Here’s How Decluttering Your Home Can Actually Improve Your Mental Health

I started meditating around 10 years ago while attending college. There was an email sent stating finals were approaching and if you wanted to relieve some stress you were welcome to attend the library and learn to meditate. I thought, “What do I have to lose?” I soon realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I loved meeting weekly in that tiny room, with people of every nationality crammed inside meditating with a lady whose voice was so serene you couldn’t believe she was from this planet. I soon asked her if she believed the library had any books I could read more about meditation. That is when I discovered the book Peace Is Every Step by Thich Naht Hanh and was introduced to the practice of mindfulness, and the rest is history.

Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. You begin to ask yourself necessary questions like “Am I really washing the dishes if I’m still replaying that dreadfully embarrassing moment I had yesterday?” or “Am I really hugging my daughter back if I’m thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner tonight?” You begin to realize, much to your disappointment, that much of your life is lived this way—ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. In an article in the Harvard Gazette, Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert concluded people spend about 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing.

Mindfulness teaches us that we are only fully alive if we are present. When you start living mindfully, you become more aware—aware of your feelings, the present moment, your surroundings. And with that comes the inevitable (and dreadful) moment you look around your home and think, “Jeez, I have a lot of crap in here!” And yes, that can be overwhelming. You realize the clutter on the counter. On the dresser. In that little corner nobody ever notices. Oh, and even worse, if you start being mindful, you also realize how all this clutter can potentially have a negative effect on your mental health.

But no worries, with awareness comes change. With awareness comes growth. If you never notice the mess in your apartment, you’ll never fix it. If you never notice the mess in your life, you’ll never fix it. But that initial overwhelming feeling will only last as long as you avoid it, so the power lies in your hands. Like I always say, start anywhere, start somewhere.

It doesn’t matter if every single room is a mess. Just start with that little drawer in your bathroom. Once you finish one project, no matter how small, your confidence will build. You will feel more in control of not only your home but your life. Decluttering something is so simple yet so effective. It has a ripple effect on other areas of your life. I truly believe a messy apartment equals a messy mind. What do you think an organized apartment equals? Yep, you got it, an organized mind. Taking control of your environment is in essence taking back control of your life.And what’s the best part of all of this? That when you have less stuff, you can focus your attention on the things that actually add value and joy to your life. You start questioning who and what you allow into your space and energy. When you start saying no to the things that don’t add value to your life, you start inevitably saying yes to the things that do. Say yes today.