James Simonetta

I’ve been working on a large de-cluttering project for weeks now. Having combined two households a couple of years ago and coming up to ten years living in my current house means the clutter has really crept up on me slowly. The insides of cupboards, wardrobes and drawers being the biggest issues. De-cluttering has had some really positive side-effects. If you are feeling down and like negative situations in your life are controlling you, a simple way to give yourself a sense of empowerment over your life is to control something small that reminds you that you have the power to effect change in your life.

Looking at your home environment is the best place to start as it is the area in your life that is usually the biggest reflection of your inner emotions. Picking an area of your home to clean out and de-clutter is a fantastic way to start to feel better. Pick a project that matches where you’re at emotionally at the time. For example, if you’re feeling depressed and all your energy is sapped by the depression, pick a very small and achievable project. When your energy is low de-cluttering a whole room can feel overwhelming and this defeats the purpose of the action, so go small. This could be something like organising your shoe collection – donating shoes you don’t need and arranging and storing what’s left in a better way. If you find the job too overwhelming stop it and move onto something even smaller like clearing out a single drawer. Once you’ve accomplished that, move on to something a little bigger.

Feng Shui principles suggest that clutter can have an effect on a person’s energy levels. The Feng Shui belief is that every personal possession in your living space requires energy from you. Each little bit of rubbish, extra clothing, projects half completed, unused furniture etc. can all drain energy from their owner resulting in increased inability to rise above depressive states. The link between clutter and depression was also recognised by a recent study from American university UCLA. The study identified a correlation between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects.

For my own de-cluttering project, we’ve started slowly and make small, consistent efforts. We know it’s not going to result in an overnight transformation but are looking forward to a clutter-free new year, and enjoying the benefits of de-cluttering in the meantime.

The best part about de-cluttering is that it’s a feel-good activity that costs you nothing and can benefit others if you donate good quality items to your local organisations. De-cluttering several wardrobes left me with 18 (yep, 18!) garbage bags of wearable clothes that I no longer wanted. I was dreading dragging them in small lots down to the local donation bin but found that Diabetes Victoria would come and pick them up from my doorstep for free, bonus!

For higher value items you can choose to donate them or sell them, but give the items a deadline. If they haven’t sold by the deadline, donate. If you sell any items, use the money for non-material purchases – pay for a massage, night at the movies or if you’re under financial stress, use it to relieve some of your bill pressure.

So even (and especially) if you’ve got a large amount of clutter, pick a small project that will give you a feeling of accomplishment and control over your life and circumstances and see what positive changes it might bring to your day. If you find that getting rid of items produces uncomfortable or negative emotions for you take it slowly, think about what you’re gaining, the new joy or use the items will give their next owner. Seek help from your support network or a counsellor to help you, take breaks if you need to but don’t give up.

Read more about the core principles of The Leading Mind.