Decluttering During Corona
In the Shinto religion, organizing and tidying up is considered a method of spiritual cleansing. However, regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s hard to deny the positive psychological benefits of an uncluttered environment. A clean room tends to decrease stress and increase creativity. This is because a clean room creates less of a “sensory overload” than a messy one. With quarantine forcing many to spend their time at home, there is no better time to declutter. However, it’s important to first understand what clutter is and how it comes about.
When most people think of clutter, they imagine their overflowing closet or messy junk drawer. However, clutter can also be digital, emotional, or even spiritual. Part of decluttering is tackling those unopened emails, fears, and toxic relationships. Having clutter does not make you a lazy person, but instead is caused by indecisiveness. Dealing with clutter means making hard decisions, whether that’s to forgive a friend or getting rid of an old shirt. Sure, seeing your bedroom looking a lot cleaner feels good for a moment. However, the long-lasting benefits of tidying up come from handling unsolved problems. Marie Kondo, an organizing consultant and author, states in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “If you let the temporary relief achieved by tidying up your physical space deceive you, you will never recognize the need to clean up your psychological space.”
Besides being indecisive, there are also biological and societal reasons people create clutter. Back in the caveman days, possessing lots of stuff meant you and your family were more likely to survive the winter. Although we no longer hunt wooly mammoths with spears, we still feel a sense of safety by having our belongings around us.
In our modern world, capitalism has replaced our need to hunt and gather, but it has also introduced a new challenge. Everyday, whether you are watching television or listening to the radio, advertisements persuading you to “buy buy buy” are everywhere. The business world wants you to keep spending and our western society is set up in a way that compels you to do so. Being quarantined means many are resorting to online shopping and therefore introducing more clutter into their homes. With so many already struggling with the increased anxiety and depression quarantine causes, people don’t need the additional stress a messy room creates. However, making a messy room a clean one is no easy feat.
Anyone who has ever tried to clean their room knows the struggle. You are halfway through cleaning your closet when you find yourself surrounded by old items you never knew you had. Eventually, after trying on some old clothes and looking through your middle school yearbook, you give up and push everything back in. That’s why it’s important to get into the right mindset for tidying up. Decluttering your house shouldn’t be something you do often, but rather something you plan on doing on a specific day. Marie Kondo advises that cleaning “in one go” is far more beneficial because the drastic changes to your home will empower you to keep your space orderly. Marking the day you want to tidy up in your calendar could help keep you accountable, and having a friend or family member advise you on what you should and shouldn’t keep will assist in surpassing sentimental feelings. Organizing experts also recommend bringing all your items out into the open and sorting them into catagories. By following this method, it’s easier to see how many items you have and decide on which to keep. Another issue people face while tidying up is feeling guilty for getting rid of gifts or expensive items. A good way to deal with these negative feelings is donating or giving away things that you don’t want. Knowing someone else will love and enjoy an item you would rather not have is a good motivator to keep cleaning and to part with certain items.
Just because we are restrained to our homes doesn’t mean we have to despise it. Taking the time to declutter will provide much-needed stress relief in an already stressful situation. Recently, I took the time to clean my entire room, getting rid of old papers and old clothes. In the end, I felt more refreshed. Sitting in a much emptier room left less distractions for my mind and helped me focus on what’s most important. Whether you call it “spiritual cleansing” or “de-stressing”, simply cleaning your room could be the answer to solving your quarantine qualms.
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