The Health Benefits of Decluttering Your Life
Posted on 23 March 2019 by Leonie Satori
There are so many lifestyle factors that can influence your overall health. Good health is not gained from simply eating good food, taking the latest supplement or following a strict regime. In this article I discuss some of the health benefits of decluttering your life, sorting your stuff out and getting your place in order.
For the most part, I have always considered myself to be a minimalist, however, it wasn't until a little over a year ago, when I started to 'clean up my life' that I realised how much clutter I had accumulated. Granted, daily accumulation of 'stuff' occurs for most of us, but sometimes we don't realise how much stuff we are collecting and how much it has been weighing us down - physically, mentally and emotionally.
The more I read about decluttering and simplifying your life, the more I came across information on the 'journey' of decluttering. After a year, yes, a year of decluttering my home, I am still going through the journey of simplifying my life, it has been like peeling back layers of emotions, and some have been a whole lot more juicy than others.
It Feels Good To Let Go
We all do it, we hang on to things because we think it is the right thing to do or we want to avoid the feelings of guilt or fear that may appear when you 'get rid of something'. Really, are we just hanging onto stuff for the sake of hanging onto stuff? Oh, but I might need that some day! I had a lot of things that I thought I might use one day, but I found that often, those things served no purpose other than to create clutter and dust.
When you get to a point where you can identify what is serving you - physically or emotionally, you are able to let go of what you no longer need. Breaking this attachment with objects, behaviours, people or whatever, is not only fulfilling, but good for your health. Yep, it feels good.
'Offloading' things that are weighing you down can mean getting rid of some awful gifts that we given to you by some well-meaning friend or family member. It can also mean getting rid of some stuff that you used to use when you were younger, but you know, in your heart, that you will never use them again. I'm not talking about woohoo here, you know what I mean, darn, it feels good to no longer be held hostage in your own home by stuff that is no longer serving you.
Decluttering Your Life Reduces Stress
We've all been there: you know exactly what you are looking for, you had it in your hand just ten minutes ago, but because you have so much clutter, you can't remember where you put it, or where it could be. This endless kind of situation creates an undercurrent of unnecessary stress that can envelop your life. I know, that sounds pretty dramatic, but really, do you know anyone who needs more stress in their life?
Stress is probably one of the biggest drivers for chronic health conditions in Australia. Stress gets blamed for everything from high cholesterol and obesity to heart conditions, depression, high blood pressure and anxiety, and I haven't even scratched the surface here. Stress is a natural physiological response to your environment, it is a primal mechanism to help our survival. But, as we all know, long term stress, associated with living in this modern world contributes to numerous health conditions.
One of the many side effects of clutter-induced stress is sleeplessness, especially when you feel overwhelmed by the weight of your clutter. One major thing that I noticed when I reached a certain point in my decluttering is that my sleep improved, I found it easier to get to sleep and I actually began remembering my dreams again and felt more refreshed on waking. While this may not be universal for everyone decluttering, it is good to mention that sleep disorders are said to affect around 35-40% of Australians and sleeplessness or inadequate sleep can perpetuate and increase stress, I know you can see where I am going with this. Check out this 2016 Sleep Health Survey from The University of Adelaide for a whole bunch of findings on sleep.
So, imagine if you could reduce your stress levels and reduce your reliance on pharmaceutical medications or risk factors for chronic health conditions by simply decluttering your life.
Room For Good Stuff
When you start to reduce and declutter your physical space, you begin to allow room in your life for good things. When you have less to maintain, less to look after and spend less time looking for things, you end up with more space and time for the things that you really love. Not only does this space allow you to surround yourself with things that you really want, but you will find that you will begin to find more time for things and people that you enjoy.
The knock-on effect of simplifying and decluttering your life gives you space to create boundaries in your relationships. What I mean here is: the journey of decluttering your space is a process of assessing what you need, what serves you and what you love. You will find, that this will overflow onto your relationships, you will begin to identify the relationships that are no longer serving you, that you have been holding onto and you will also begin to identify the relationships that are of value to you. I know, it's a bit of a leap here, but I think you get what I mean. Having the space and reduced stress levels can enable you to better assess your relationships and being able to say 'no', really helps you to have more time for things that you enjoy and be with people that you love.
Decluttering Saves Money
When I started decluttering, I began to notice how many multiples of things I owned, I literally had thousands of staples, for my four staplers. Obviously I did not have a proper inventory of items in my home, or I just didn't know where they were and I kept on buying a new one when I had to. What I learned, is that I had been so caught up in what was happening in my life, that I was unable to have a proper grasp of what I already owned.
Decluttering allows you to understand what you have and what you need and this may not have a direct affect on your overall health. However, what it can do is reduce money stress and allow you more funds to invest in your health financially, or take a nice big relaxing holiday.
Things Bring You Joy
Ok, so I'm riding the wave of the whole Marie Kondo trend here, but hear me out. When you start to reduce your stuff and declutter your life, there is a tipping point where you begin to really enjoy what you have. Yes, there is always initial anxiety when you let go of something, discard it or pay it forward, but the benefit of this comes when you truly enjoy what you do have.
So, I'm not suggesting that you throw away all of your stuff in the hope that your stress levels will automatically go down and you will live a healthier life. No. What I have learned, from my own experience is that we all accumulate things, stuff that weighs us down, things that no longer serve us, and things that do not contribute to our overall wellbeing.
As I mentioned earlier, I have found that it is the journey of decluttering that encourages better health. One step at a time, moving in the direction of simplifying your life can help to generate a momentum of learning, growth and greater purpose. Find ways to recycle, gift, trade, donate, sell, re-purpose or move your clutter in a way that you are not unnecessarily contributing to the overflow of landfill and waste on this planet. I have personally gained much satisfaction from paying forward many of my things, to people who value those things that are no longer serving me. I am at the stage where I have learned a great deal about myself on my decluttering journey. I still have much to learn, but I am happy to share with you my own experiences of simplifying my life.
I wish you well on your journey of simplifying your life, decluttering your home and creating more joy and love in your life.
About the Author
Leonie is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her Naturopathic clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.
Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.