Top Sante (UK)
Revive your space
Find out how decluttering boosts your mood – and gives you fresh motivation.
Parting with belongings may initially feel like a loss, but as Top Santé’s Larissa Chapman found out, decluttering can not only boost your mood but provide physical health benefifits, too.
DELVING WILFULLY through mountains of clothes, shoes and handbags I’d forgotten I had, I’m desperately trying to find the one and only clutch bag that I know will perfectly complement my chosen outfit – but time is ticking. With only five minutes until the taxi arrives, I can feel my face flushing puce with frustration and mild panic. Where is it? My room is a mess and I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s time to admit defeat and use any bag I can find – to hell with colour coordination! Standing in my fraught state, I realise it needn’t be like this. I begin to imagine how idyllic life would be if I could just reach into an ordered wardrobe and grab what I need first time. Decluttering my living space is something I always mean to do but manage to put off as, well, it’s timeconsuming. What’s more, organising and throwing away beloved possessions, many of which hold great emotional significance, can be a real challenge. From clothes to ornaments and books to photographs, whittling things down isn’t easy, but a tidy, clutter-free home and life filled only with ordered, working possessions can be the key to mental and physical wellbeing – and don’t I know it! This is a theory championed by popular Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo, whose obsession with tidiness has recently put decluttering back on the agenda. She believes, as do her millions of followers, that getting your house in order will not only transform your space but also allow you to feel more confident and give you the energy and motivation to create a life you want, and even become more mindful to boot. In her recently published book Spark Joy (Vermilion) Marie espouses a somewhat spiritual approach to decluttering, suggesting we consider the ‘feelings’ of our belongings and thanking them for their service before parting with them. It may sound odd, but the concept is catching on.
The time is now
Although a spring clean might seem like a cliché, according to experts, this season really is an ideal time for decluttering as it’s the time of renewal: the grass is lush, the leaves are budding on the trees and you can finally dig out your favourite pair of sandals from the
bottom of the wardrobe – that’s if you can find them, which, if your wardrobe is anything like mine – a mess of chunky knits crammed on top of one another, cumbersome winter boots squashing slinky summer sandals, and too many jeans – will be impossible. By getting organised now, you can set the tone for the rest of the year and make your life a whole lot more streamlined.
Craving more space
Over the past five years there’s been a rise in popularity and understanding of decluttering, so much so that the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) now has more than 150 members nationwide and is running courses to train more people as professional declutterers. Experts say this increase is a natural outcome of living in a consumer society where shopping has become a leisure activity and products are more affordable than they once were. While it’s lovely to treat yourself to beautiful things that bring pleasure or add value to your life, you can easily end up with too many of them and not enough space to store them all. Another possible reason for the decluttering resurgence could be our need for order, stemming from greater awareness of how living mindfully and simply can benefit our mental state. It indicates a desire to slow down and focus on what matters.
Creating order and clarity
Thanks to TV programmes such as The Hoarder Next Door, it’s easy to think decluttering is only for those with junk spilling out from their homes. But it can benefit tidy people too. ‘I define clutter as whatever’s getting in your way – in your home or in your head,’ says declutter coach Juliet Landau-Pope. ‘But it’s subjective. If the amount of stuff in your home isn’t bothering you and doesn’t pose a risk to your health, you may not feel the need to declutter. However, I recommend that everyone reviews their belongings and takes stock from time to time.You might be surprised at just how much unwanted stuff is hiding in your cupboards!’ Some people mistake decluttering as simply tidying up, but there’s much more to it than that, according to Juliet. ‘It involves reviewing your personal belongings and making active choices about what to keep. The aim is to reduce surplus possessions.’ Not only can decluttering create order and clarity, but it will save you time and money, too. ‘You’ll discover things you forgot you had, meaning you don’t need to go out and buy new ones, and being able to find things more easily will save countless hours of searching,’ says Juliet. ‘What’s more, decluttering helps to energise and motivate you, giving you an endorphin boost from the sense of accomplishment. The clutter-free space also promotes feelings of calm, as you won’t keep seeing piles of things to sort out, which drain your energy just looking at them. ’Having a clear mind may give you the impetus to finally take up hobbies or start projects you’ve been putting off, too.’ It might seem surprising, but decluttering your home, particularly your bedroom, can even help you sleep better and remain more focused during the day. A recent study at St Lawrence University in New York found that hoarders were more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances and daytime distractions than those who didn’t. However, you don’t have to be a full-on hoarder for an untidy bedroom to affect your snoozing habits. Stress can affect the quality of your sleep, and having messy clothes, drawers that don’t shut or curtains that won’t close can, quite simply, remind you of things that you haven’t done, resulting in stress. As for me, I knew it was time to organise my life, starting with my wardrobe. So the very next day I set aside three hours to empty the wardrobe, sort and sift all the clothes, most of which ended up in a charity bag – after I’d thanked them, of course – and put back only those I truly loved and will wear this year. I feel serene, calm, and yes, I found that clutch bag.
Clearing your clutter helps usher in fresh, new energy and the space will help you feel calmer.