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How Clutter Kills Your Emotions, Energy & More, and What to Do About it Now

Most of us clean our homes regularly, but when was the last time you cleaned out your home's clutter? Clutter can be anything from stacks of mail taking over your kitchen table to too many toiletries under your bathroom sink.

Clutter takes the form of leftover Christmas wrapping paper and bows that you're saving for next year to those coffee mugs your friends brought you from their trip to Disney World, which you just can't get rid of.

clutter free home

A clutter-free home will feel like your sanctuary, but a cluttered home will slowly drag you down, mentally and physically.

While most of us revel in the clutter-free spaces that exist in nice hotel rooms, model homes and pictures in magazines, our own homes are typically far from serene -- and our peace of mind is paying for it!

Clutter Equals Stagnant Energy

One of the basic tenants of feng shui, which is an ancient art of creating a harmonious environment in your home using space, placement of objects, color and more to keep vital energy aligned, is that clutter represents stagnant energy.

In order for energy, or chi, to flow -- and therefore for your home to feel peaceful, support your mental and emotional well-being and provide a sanctuary for you to reside in -- the clutter must be cleared.

We feel this inherently upon walking into a cluttered room or looking at a cluttered counter. It is visually distracting to start, then mentally distracting as you feel overwhelmed and think of all the things you need to get done, and all the while brings up feelings of anxiety and tension.

Just as clutter keeps energy stagnant, it can also keep other areas of your life from growing. Do you avoid having friends over because your home is not in order? Have you put off planning a vacation or starting a new business because your life feels too out of control? Does a lack of organization make daily tasks, like paying bills or putting away groceries, seem like insurmountable feats?

Or does the clutter in your home leave you feeling tired? Overwhelmed? Irritable?

If so, clutter may be controlling your life.

Clutter Leads to More Clutter

The thing about clutter is it can easily spiral out of control. It starts with just one thing out of place, say a bill you've been meaning to pay left out on the counter. Soon, that one bill turns into a mountain of clutter: your kids' school books, a hairbrush, a two-day-old newspaper, etc.

You may then very well take that pile of clutter and move it into an even larger cluttered area, like a closet, a basement or an extra room devoted just to things you don't know where to put.

Material clutter will inevitably also lead to mental clutter. You may find you have thoughts running through your head constantly, too many tasks to fit into a day, too many e-mails to answer, and soon become way over-stressed.

With too much stress, and no peaceful retreat of a clutter-free home, you can easily be on your way to a myriad of stress-related illnesses and chronic disease. So clearing clutter is not just a matter of personal preference, it's a matter of health and sanity!

clean home

A key step to de-cluttering is resisting the urge to put things on any flat surface. Clear counters and tabletops can be a remarkably soothing sight.

How to De-Clutter Your Home

Most of us dream of, and aspire to have, a clean, clutter-free home. This dream no longer has to be out of your reach, as clearing clutter and freeing the energy in your home is something that anyone can do using these 10 tips.

  • Start small -- a kitchen drawer, a countertop, a front entrance or a bathroom vanity -- to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

  • Make a decision about every item you pick up. Either it stays where it is, gets put away someplace else, is given to charity or gets tossed.

  • Use organizational tools, like file drawers, to give you appropriate places to put things. But, don't buy them until you've cleared the clutter. Buy containers, folders, furniture, etc. based only on what is left (example: if you have three piles of tax papers you need to keep, invest in a file drawer where they can be stored safely, in order and out of sight).

  • Adopt this rule: Before you bring something new into the house, you must get rid of something old. Buy a new coat? Give the purple one in the back of your closet that you haven't worn in 10 years to charity. New dishware? Time to purge the cabinets of the set you no longer use.

  • Get help. Enlist your kids, your friends, your spouse and anyone else who's willing to tackle a cluttered room. Explain the goal to your family so they will help ensure the home remains clutter-free.

  • Buy less stuff. Part of what brings on clutter is simply trying to fit too many things into your home. If you don't really need it, or really, really love it, leave it at the store.

  • Learn to let go. Clearing clutter means saying goodbye to items that aren't necessary. Do you have three sets of barbecue tools and only grill out twice a summer? Give two away. Holding on to your child's stuffed animal collection, even though he just turned 22? You know what to do.

  • Use secret-weapon resources like "The Clutter-Busting Handbook: Clean It Up, Clear It Out, And Keep Your Life Clutter-free," by Rita Emmett, a former pack-rat herself. It lists 50 practical ways to get rid of and limit unwanted items, including how to keep clutter from ever returning.

  • Look for, and clear out, clutter where you wouldn't expect it, such as old books, items from past relationships, makeup you've had too long, worn-out clothing, and magazines you don't really need.

  • If all else fails (or if you don't want to do it yourself) hire a professional. Pro organizers are out there and will come into your home to clear out clutter. They charge anywhere from $40-$80 per hour.

Recommended Reading

A 20 Minute Vacation: The Amazing Health Benefits of Meditation

The Surprising Health & Psychological Benefits of a Clean, Uncluttered Desk


Feng Shui Tips for Clutter Control

ABC 7 Online: Turn Your Home Into a Sanctuary

40 Places to Look for Clutter Now

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