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Declutter Your Home For Your Health and Peace of Mind

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

declutter-your-home-for-your-health-and-peace-of-mind

Clutter Chaos

I’ve heard it said that a cluttered space denotes a cluttered mind. Maybe that is so but it is the way many artists work. However, I have found that it tends to spill over into my everyday life and home. I have to fight the impulse to leave a messy dining table or countertop. It is a constant struggle to keep my bed made and my bedroom uncluttered with junk that finds its way there. Why bother, you may ask. I have many reasons. The most important is that I love my husband. He is a much more peaceful and calm man when I have made the effort to keep the living area uncluttered and clean.

My Blue Jay Grape Botanical painting in watercolor

My Blue Jay Grape Botanical painting in watercolor

“Clutter-clearing is modern-day alchemy.”

— Denise Linn

Reduce Anxiety

As psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter explains in Psychology Today, “Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” I believe that. When the house is messy, I don’t feel like I can dig into my artwork the way I’d like to. I feel overpowered somehow about everything. There is something about having a clean kitchen and all the dishes washed that frees me to dive into my writing and artwork. If I could pay someone to do it all for me I would but for now, I’m the chief cook and bottle washer as well as the resident artist and children’s book illustrator.

According to this same article, decluttering will also boost your productivity and creativity. This is something I want so the extra effort is worth it. Somedays I look around myself and I cannot get inspired to create because there is so much around me. Half-finished projects abound in my world.

Make room for what you love.

Make room for what you love.

Make Room For Your Loves

When you get rid of things that just clutter you make room for more of the things you really love. This seems so obvious but so difficult to do. I was raised by a frugal mother (we used to call her cheap). She saved anything and everything that may be of use, such as old plastic back, glass jars, newspapers and magazines, even circulars and junk mail. She would have us draw and doodle on the backs of old mail and even old wrapping paper instead of buying us drawing paper. She was a wonder. And unfortunately, I get that hoarding gene from her. The point is that I don’t have to be like that. We have plenty. More than plenty. There is no need to be hoarding old plastic bags. I have begun slowly the painful process of denying my heritage and cutting out the hoarding gene.


“Clutter in its highest and most organized form is called collecting”

— Ada Louise Huxtable

Begin Slowly

Wherever you start is a good place. You have to ask yourself as I asked myself, “Do I really need this?” Then tell yourself someone else may need it more and maybe blessed by your opening your hands to give instead of clenching them in fear of loss. Once things started leaving my home I felt a weight lift. I was liberating in the extreme. I felt I could breathe easier and though I have no proof, I bet my blood pressure went down. There are a number of books and articles out there giving you pointers on how to do this but the key is just to begin.


“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

— Wendell Berry

Sorting and Planning

Make a schedule so that you don’t kill yourself trying to do everything in one day. On Saturday work on closets, clearing out what just isn’t needed or used anymore. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used it/worn it in a year, you probably aren’t going to use it/wear it again.

The next Saturday, tackle the kitchen. Pots, cookware that is usable but not needed by you should go. Appliances you got as gifts but never cared for, salad bowls you never pulled out of the cupboard (I mean, how many salad bowls does one family need?), canning jars you don’t need or use, extra baking pans, trays, cake forms, etc., all must go.

Next work on the bedrooms. I can’t begin to describe the clutter I have stored in the nooks and corners of my bedroom. You get the idea.

Don’t forget decor. How much decor do you actually use? I rotate a few main items depending on the time of year as well as a couple of main vases for flowers. The rest is just clutter.

Knitting Fair Isle Pattern

Knitting Fair Isle Pattern

Yarn Projects

I had bags and boxes of yarn. People knew I was a knitter so they began giving me yarn bits and pieces and I just couldn’t turn them down. I ended up with 6 boxes of yarn and 3 large trash bags full as well. If I lived to be 200 I couldn’t have used all that yarn. Naturally, most of it didn’t match. I began sorting it into two main categories: acrylic and wool. Once that was sorted I sorted them into what I might like to use later and what I will never use. This was a hard sort because, in my mind, I can always use yarn. But the honest truth is that there were some I would be more likely to use first and those that I would possibly use last had to go. Beyond this, I had tons of PIGS, some TOADS, and PITS as well as a house full of PHDs. I’ve been working on several PHDs.

PIGS: Projects in Grocery Sacks. I have two now. They really have to go.

TOAD: Trashed Object Abandoned in Disgust. Only one left. Maybe I can fix it.

PITS: Project In Tote Sacks. I have three of these PHDs, or is it four?

PHD: Project Half Done. If you are not careful you may be working on several PHDs too.

The good thing is that those bags of yarn that didn’t sell in the yard sale, I gave to an elderly friend who made knitted hats for her elderly friends and little caps for newborns. She was given yarn free and she gave away the things she made for free. Each time she told me how many people she blessed, I was also blessed for having relinquished my grip on things I wasn’t going to use.

The second good thing is that I was encouraged to begin knitting again too. I made a dozen little doggy sweaters and several “crazy quilt” type sweaters for grandchildren. I used a Fair Isle pattern I made up and lots of different colors. They turned out very cute.


Happy me between my sisters.

Happy me between my sisters.

Final Thoughts

It has been a couple of years now since I started really decluttering. I constantly battle the desire to keep something that has entered the house but the habit of asking “Do I really NEED this” is formed and will always be in the back of my mind. I feel better. I get more done creatively and my husband is happier with me and my constant PHDs.

Have you trouble with letting go of clutter? Do you hoard things? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions in the comments below.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 24, 2021:

Heidi Thorne,

Oh, it is hard to release books, isn't it? Books feel like knowledge you are getting rid of. But I had to let them go or drown in the chaos. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 24, 2021:

Devika Primić,

It is like a sickness, a fear of loss. Some people cannot release things and let them go. I don't want that to happen to me so I regularly go through my clothes and closets to give stuff new life with some new owner. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 24, 2021:

Chitrangada Sharan,

I feel like things I share, gift, or donate, are things that are getting a new life with some new owner. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 24, 2021:

Mary Norton,

It is hard, isn't it? So many things begin to have sentimental value and then you don't want to part with it, even though you are not using (or wearing) it anymore. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 23, 2021:

I just did a declutter for some books. I can barely function or breathe in a cluttered environment. So I can relate!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 17, 2021:

Denise this is a well-advised hub and decluttering is what I often do to avoid piling up on what I do not need. I know of people who do not know when to stop hoarding or collecting books that they ill never read. It can go on like that and for what I do not understand at times. Your hub explains in detail and gives me a proper understanding of such behaviors.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 17, 2021:

Great article about the importance of decluttering, for good health and peace of mind. I firmly believe in this and regularly follow as well. Having said that, like many others, I am also in the habit of keeping and not throwing away certain things, thinking I might need them. But, ultimately I do declutter them later on.

Thank you for sharing this well written article. I enjoyed reading it.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 17, 2021:

I can relate so well with this. I have so much to share as I have not been using many things. I will have to tackle this.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 17, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

Well, it tells a lot about me. I could be an obsessive-compulsive hoarder if I don't watch myself and declutter often. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Rosina S Khan on May 15, 2021:

Denise, this is really a very good article about decluttering home. We have moved to our new home for almost three years now but haven't cluttered it much. Our older home, however, needed severe decluttering and we sold out most of the bigger objects until we could rent it out.

The article was an interesting read and I enjoyed it a lot.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

Oh yes. Moving is perfect motivation. The last thing you want is to have to pack it, haul it, and then unpack it if it isn't useful. I understand completely. Thanks for commenting and good luck.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Lorna Lamon,

I can see how this could be a serious problem without much effort. I have to consciously watch myself or I could get into that habit as well. It's that fear that I may "need" it if I throw it away. I have to fight that fear and remember the world is full of stuff. If I need it that bad I will always find it again. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Eric Dierker,

Ha! My husband accused me of doing that as well. The temptation is there but I resist it. It's enough to plow through my own junk without starting in on his. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2021:

We started getting rid of things years ago. There are so many good charities that can put things to good use. Giving away things to friends, family, and neighbors also work. However one does it, it is amazing how many things we accumulate over the years. At some point, we are thinking of downsizing our home, so that motivates us.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Pamela Oglesby,

It's true. The thought of doing it all in one day is too much. It will keep you from ever starting. So I like to do it in small mouthfuls so that I can eventually devour the job. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Dora Weithers,

Thanks for your understanding. I appreciate you so much. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Louise Powles,

I think we all do periodically. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

BRENDA ARLEDGE,

So true. Since we have no rooms like that we end us cramming everything we can into closets. It gets to be too much, and the decluttering begins. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Liz Westwood,

Well, I certainly understand the hoarder. I think it comes from a place of fear that if you get rid of something you may "need" it later. Also those of us who have parents who lived through the great depression were taught to keep what can be reused. I know I was. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 15, 2021:

Bill Holland,

It's so true. It's one of the reasons I hate to move so much. That's when you find how much stuff you have and how long you've had it stuffed there. Embarrassing. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon on May 15, 2021:

An excellent article Denise full of great advice and tips. I have treated clients who suffer with hoarding and even though this is an extreme psychological condition, many began by adding to their clutter, which over time became a hoard where they hid from the world.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 14, 2021:

This is real good. Funny but my wife likes to declutter my stuff but not hers. (-;

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 14, 2021:

This is a great article. I also like things to be neat. My mother lived with us for 14 years and she passed away two years ago. I have been decluttering our home ever since. I have tried to get my children to take more things but they don't want the bulk of it. LOL

I like the organized way you describe this process, Denise. Thanks for this article.

Dora Weithers on May 14, 2021:

I'm the opposite of hoarder. I don't even like shoes that last too long. I always want to give away or throw out. Still, recently I watched an AARP seminar on declutterimg. I like having that kind of information. Stay focused and you'll get there.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 14, 2021:

That's great advice. I really need to de-clutter my home.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 14, 2021:

A great article.

I have a little bedroom that needs cleaning out just so I can function in there.

My computer is in there...but not hooked up because the room is so small and Ive got everything else I can't find a place for in that room.

The rest of my place looks great, but I have no garage to hide things.

I will tackle it soon though.

No sense in not being able to use the room.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 14, 2021:

I am on a constant declutter process. You give great encouragement in this article and also write with empathy and understanding.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 14, 2021:

Weird timing! We've been doing this since we got back from vacation. The clerk at the city dump knows me by sight now. lol And we still have a long way to go. How is it that two people can accumulate so much clutter? Talent, I guess!

Blessings always

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