Declutter Your Space, Clear Your Mind

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Some people are super organized, and I idolize those people because I am like most people who tend to build up unnecessary clutter as time goes on. Although some things go unnoticed, like boxes in the garage, other things I see all the time and I just have a hard time throwing it out. When I first bought my house I received a ton of hand-me-down items for my home. Then I got married we upgraded a bunch of our household items and, as we started to make more money, we picked out some of our own furniture.

The problem was that I felt like all of that other stuff still had value, and I had a hard time getting rid of it, so a lot of it was just stashed in our kitchen, closets or garage. Once we had kids, the amount of stuff we had was magnified and I finally started to get rid of things we didn’t need. I held on to some duplicate items for camping, but donated many bags full of stuff. As painful as some of it was to part with, it felt so good to have less items to manage in our home, and it was a lot easier to keep our house clean. I felt less anxiety about my home, and stopped trying to fill it with things to make it feel complete.

What does decluttering have to do with personal development you ask? Denise Linn, who is an international healer, writer and lecturer, mentioned at an event that the one thing you should do for yourself in a personal development journey is to go home and declutter your home. This can be overwhelming once you start, but she advised to start with even one drawer in your house. Clean it out and get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.

Your home should be your sanctuary; a place where you can clear your mind, relax and destress. It shouldn’t create feelings of anxiety because your home is a mess and you would die if anyone decided to show up unannounced. Decluttering is different than organizing in that you aren’t finding places for everything, but getting rid of everything you don’t need and use. This can apply to your car too!

The benefits to decluttering are clear:

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Improve Your Mood and Clear Your Mind: Living without clutter can improve your mood and mental health. Studies have linked a cluttered home to higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, and depression in women. I know I feel great when I come home to a clean house, and don’t get me wrong, there are many days where I just totally fail at that because the day just disappeared and between the kids and school and everything else, I just can’t. But there is definitely a noticeable change in my mood if there is that one less thing to do and things aren’t piling up around me. I can think clearly and make better decisions. The moment where I trip on one of the kids toys or, the worst: step on a lego in the dark…that is not a happy place to be.

More free time: Without having to spend so much time stashing things away and picking up the millions of small items around the house every day, I have so much more time to actually play with my kids, do homework, and just be present without the thought in the back of my mind that I need to clean up my house. Owning less makes cleanup fast and easy, and it makes me appreciate the things I do have.

Save money: Decluttering allows you to be aware of what you actually have and need. You will likely refrain from impulsively buying things that you already have other versions of, especially when it comes to toys for kids and adding to your closet.

“When you take time to thoughtfully consider everything you bring into your space or allow to remain there, you’ll start to gravitate towards more useful items, and ones you truly like having around. This makes it much easier to resist impulse purchases.” (thespruce.com)

Start with one drawer. Clean it out, organize and declutter, then move to another drawer or closet when you are ready to tackle another area. See how you feel as you go. I am still in the process of decluttering and although I have donated a lot, I have a long ways to go and a lot of things to learn to part with. There are many places to donate your used items and clothing, and now some children’s stores will buy used kid’s toys, clothing and baby items. Without so many things, you can focus on the people you care about and the experiences you want to have, without the anxiety of managing possessions.

Meditation for Skeptics

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As a mom of two toddlers I have been trying to catch up on my sleep for about 4 years now. I always figured that I have just become more resilient and can function a full day on less than 4 hours of sleep per night, no problem. I go to sleep far after the boys have gone down for bed, and I wake up earlier than they do to prepare for the day, but as I have gradually gained my sleep hours back, I find that I am still missing something.  I realized that I was not reserving any time for myself to reflect. When the kids are napping or sleeping for the night, I am vigorously trying to get things done. I make all of my phone calls, clean up the house, mow the lawn, do my homework, or plan out the next phase of my day.

 

I love the idea of mindfulness, but I have a hard time committing to it because I love to just get things done. Mindfulness is so much thought with less action, which I have been working on because although it is less gratifying, it really is so beneficial in the long run. Recently I went to a Women’s Summit where at one of the events we took time to meditate. I have never been great at meditating because I have a wandering mind, but we did a guided meditation as a group, and although I did feel my mind wandering a little, at the end of it, which lasted about 10 minutes, I felt like I was waking up from a dream. It was a strange feeling but the rest of the day I felt relaxed and very focused at the same time.

There are tons of mental and spiritual benefits to meditation. It is a great way to declutter your mind and regain focus on what matters most to you. You should try to concentrate on only one thing at a time.

“After you’ve practiced concentration and learned to focus on one thing at a time, you can proceed to the next stage: no thought at all. Achieving a silent mind is difficult, but when to attain it the experience is powerful.”  (Mindful.org)

Our minds are used to complication, so it takes practice to learn to focus on one thing or even nothing at one time.

I realize now that although I was taking time for myself in terms of managing my time to get things done, I wasn’t taking time to relax, put my guard down, and allowing myself to just breathe.  Meditation can help with depression, stress, headaches, attitude, immunity, sleep, creativity, relationships, burnout, GPA, reliance on painkillers; OK… the list goes on and on really. What better reasons to give it a go? I feel more focused and can start my day with a clear head, leaving any stress behind, and center on how I am going to accomplish my goals.

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Most people live with a false sense of emergency, and feel that the last thing they have time to do is meditate, but you can really spend just one minute a day meditating and there are tons of apps to help you get started. My favorite app is Headspace. It is free and can help get you started on an easy pace. If you want to try a guided meditation which is a little less open ended and may help you really get in the zone, listen to Denise Linn’s “33 Spirit Journeys”.

Take the time for yourself today. I was such a skeptic and used to think meditation was weird, but now I swear by it. It gives me a few minutes a day to really tune into what I am feeling and what I want.  If you try it out a few times, I would love to know how you felt about it and if you noticed a difference, especially in your concentration levels.