Clear the Clutter and Detox Your Home for a Healthier You
July 2nd, 2020
Spring is in the air! While some of the country is still expecting snow, for those of us in Austin, TX, it’s time to pull out the shorts and sandals. Whatever the temperature, as the new season approaches, it’s time to think about spring cleaning. And if that doesn’t excite you, consider this: Decluttering and cleaning are actually good for you!
For optimal health, you need a healthy environment that includes clean air, water, body products, and cleaning products. This requires us to detox our environment and our bodies. Detoxing your body means moving toxic foods and chemicals out through your detoxing organs including your colon, your liver, and your skin. My Acetyl Glutathione can help your body tremendously with detoxification from all the toxins we are exposed to in our environment.
Along with a detoxed body, you also need to detox your home. I discuss the importance of detoxification in Pillar 3 of The Myers Way®, where I talk about taming the toxins. However, there’s a mental component of detoxification as well. This can be the most difficult part.
Let’s talk about detoxing from the clutter that contributes to stress. In fact, clutter and stress are closely related. As much as possible, we need to detox ourselves from whatever causes us stress. That includes getting rid of the clutter in our homes and offices.
Just as a clean diet promotes health, a home that’s free of overflowing filing cabinets, crowded countertops, or a living room with jumbled cables also improves wellbeing. There are other forms of clutter — mental and digital, for example — that can cause stress too.
As I’ve said many times, we’ll never be able to eliminate stress entirely, yet learning to avoid it and relieve it are critical skills and a part of Pillar 4 of The Myers Way®. And developing the techniques that help you banish your existing clutter and prevent it from building up again is a great way to ensure you take control of the stress that’s a health concern.
How Does Clutter Impact Health?
Let’s look at the connection between clutter, stress and your mental, emotional, and physical health. Now, I know clutter is not the source of ALL of your stress. There’s work, family, social obligations, volunteer activities, and many other pressing issues. Yet a clutter-free home can create a haven from some of the other stresses in life!
Clutter can negatively impact your physical and mental health in a variety of ways including:
- Allergies and Asthma: The mold, dust, and pet dander that accumulates quickly in a cluttered space can contribute to allergies and asthma.
- Hormone Levels: Clutter increases the stress hormone cortisol and puts your body in a constant fight-or-flight mode, which takes a toll on your immune system and your mind.1
- Memory and Focus: Your brain seeks organization. Disorganization drains your brain and makes it harder for you to focus. Visual clutter distracts your brain and reduces your working memory.2
- Physical Obstacles: Clutter — even piles of “organized clutter” — is physically limiting and even dangerous. Unexpected objects on the floor are tripping hazards.3
- Poor Sleep: Recent studies have linked cluttered bedrooms to poor sleep. To get restful, restorative sleep, you need a cool, peaceful bedroom, free of stress-inducing clutter.4
- Productivity: In a cluttered home, many tasks are slowed because you just can’t find what you need when you need it, whether it’s getting ready for the day, cooking, or working. Not accomplishing what you’d planned can cause tension.
- Social Isolation: When your home is cluttered, you may hesitate to host friends and family, which can lead to social isolation and increase stress.
- Unhealthy Eating: Research shows that a cluttered kitchen or desk leads to an increase in junk food consumption — particularly sweets.5
- Well-being: Studies show that a cluttered home minimizes an individual’s sense of well-being and overall satisfaction with life. This is called the “clutter effect.”6
Let’s take a look at some strategies to help you reduce clutter.
How Can You Get Rid of Physical Clutter?
I run a growing business and have a young daughter. My husband recently started a demanding job and isn’t home as much to help out. For me, the best option is to keep the clutter from happening in the first place. Yet, that’s not always entirely possible.
I’ve heard all kinds of ways to banish clutter. One expert recommends you clear your clutter with a feng shui bagua (an energy map.) Another advocates hiring a professional organizer. However, I don’t believe you need to learn a new language or max out your credit card to clear out what’s in your way.
To keep my sanity, I’ve learned a few ways to clear the clutter quickly. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Try these three ideas:
- Put it on the calendar. Just as you would schedule an appointment, schedule a declutter session for yourself.
- Focus on one approach. Tackle one room or type of belonging at a time. For example, you could declutter your home room by room, or you can tackle your clothes, then your papers, then your books.
- Enlist the help of a friend or family member. I always emphasize how important community is. Working with someone else can help lend perspective as well as speed.
My favorite technique for decluttering is to sort EVERYTHING into one of three categories:
- Items you will put where they belong. These are either truly useful (i.e. you have used in the last year or things you really do care about. Each must have a place. I put sticky notes on the floor and make piles for each room or location in the house.
If it’s something purely sentimental, consider if it really brings you joy or has financial value. If it is valuable, would giving it to a family member be more useful? Could you just take a photo of it?
- Items you will throw away. Do this right away. Don’t store the stuff in your home!
- Items you will give away or donate. Again, this is not a tomorrow thing. I keep tote bags right by the door labeled “office,” “Nana,” and “GG” (she gets Elle’s hand-me-downs.) Pop things in as you come across them and take the bags with you when you go.
Tackling Mental and Digital Clutter
Along with clearing the physical clutter in your home, you need to clear the mental clutter from your mind and the digital clutter from your devices. Here is a short list of some tips to help with mental and digital clutter.
- Cancel TV channels you never watch, so you aren’t wasting time trying to find something you enjoy.
- Delete old contacts in your smartphone that you no longer use.
- Digitize old videos, cds, and albums so you can clear media you no longer need.
- Minimize interactions with people who are discouraging, critical, or who encourage bad habits.
- Trash old emails that you no longer need and sort the ones you need in folders in your inbox.
- Unsubscribe from email lists that are no longer relevant to reduce spam emails and digital clutter.
How Can I Keep Clutter Away?
Once you have an uncluttered home, of course you want to keep it that way. This can sometimes be a greater challenge than clearing it out in the first place. There are a few strategies for keeping clutter away:
Just like healthy eating, living clutter-free really is a lifestyle you can commit to. It’s worth it! Give yourself the gift of a less-stressed, more peaceful version of yourself. Here are some of my favorite strategies for keeping the clutter at bay:
- Complete the task. Commit to finishing what you started. Fold and put away the laundry as soon as it’s dry. Wash, dry, and put away the dishes. Don’t leave something for later.
- Cut the emotional attachment. I do know what it’s like to lose someone and to want to hold on to their belongings. However, part of recovering is learning to let go. Keep a few special items of a loved one and take photos of things you gave away.
- Delay purchases. Wait a day before you buy something to see if you really need or want it, or if it’s just an impulse.
- Ditch the shopping habit. You’re probably buying things you don’t need. Instead, go for a hike, see a movie, or volunteer.
- Fix it or toss it. Don’t live with broken or stained items. If it’s something you need, fix it or replace it with one in good condition.
- Just one gift. For my daughter, I ask for only one gift from relatives at the holidays. For birthday parties, we ask for no gifts. If parents insist, we suggest they donate to Global Wildlife Conservation, a charity that protects wildlife and their habitats. This prevents clutter and promotes philanthropy!
- Nothing for me, thanks. For myself and Xavier, we ask for no gifts at birthdays and holidays. If anyone insists, we ask for donations to charities we support.
- One in and one out. If you buy a new sweater, get rid of an old one.
- Watch the date. Make it a habit to use or donate all pantry items by their expiration dates, so you’re not storing items you can’t use.
Creating a serene space that boosts your mental and physical health doesn’t mean living in an empty room. It does mean creating a home that you can easily and regularly clean with nontoxic products so that you can keep your home as toxin-free as possible. It also means a neat and orderly environment where what you need is in an accessible place and what you truly love is on display.
As we know, both toxins and stress can lead to autoimmunity. Banishing the physical toxins and the stress of physical, mental and digital clutter is critical in ensuring your best health! Make a plan and get started creating your uncluttered home and support your body’s detox pathways with my Acetyl Glutathione, nature’s master detoxifier. Unlike many other forms, my Glutathione is acetylated for maximum bioavailability so it gets right to the cells that need it.