Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Living or working in a cluttered space has the potential to make you stressed and even physically ill. But letting go of “stuff” is easier said than done. 1st for Women Insurance provides ways in which women can live more by owning less.

Do you live in a home or work in an office surrounded by clutter? Do you wish you could declutter your life, but something holds you back or you never seem to find the time? You are not alone. Many people struggle to let go of the things we surround ourselves with – even if they make no practical contribution to our lives.

The problem is that clutter becomes a self-perpetuating cycle – it affects your mood and motivation, meaning that when your work or home space is full and untidy, it becomes even more difficult to tidy things up and throw them away.

Research has shown that women who were asked to do tasks in cluttered environments had far higher cortisol levels than when they did the same task in tidy surroundings. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, insomnia, weight gain and anxiety disorders. At the same time, many hoarders’ brains show activity in the areas associated with pain, when asked to tidy up or throw away.

“This is a vicious cycle indeed,” says Robyn Farrell, Executive Head for 1st for Women Insurance. “You get stressed out by the clutter around you, but any attempt to reduce the clutter causes even more stress. However, if you consider that the stress is affecting you either way, it’s important to take steps to declutter your life.”

She suggests the following approaches:

  • Take baby steps: Clutter overwhelms, so don’t allow decluttering to do the same thing to you. Set yourself small goals – like cleaning out the utensil drawer in the kitchen – rather than one unachievable ambition – like tidying the entire house.
  • Regular, sustainable routine: Make decluttering a regular part of your routine, so that new clutter doesn’t quickly overwhelm the recently tidied spaces. Declare an hour on Saturday mornings or ten minutes of every week night “tidy-up time” and take pride in keeping things under control.
  • Create useful spaces: One of the cries of the serial cluttered is that they don’t have anywhere to put everything. Work out in your head the kind of work areas and storage that you need, and invest in the items that will make these spaces possible.
  • Make a list of projects: One of the reasons people hang on to all that stuff is that they believe they will one day get to make a quilt with all those scraps of fabric or get all those broken electronic devices fixed. If you think like this, make a list of the projects you want to start, with deadlines for finishing.
  • Take stock of sentimentality: Being sentimental is another characteristic of a hoarding personality. While it’s good to be appreciative of gifts and to hold on to good memories, you have to stop somewhere. Tally up all the items you are hanging on to purely for sentimental reasons, and if the sheer volume is overwhelming, find a way to start letting go.
  • Deal with day to day clutter: You will find that when you have cleared your work and living spaces, you’ll find it easier to deal with the tasks you are procrastinating – like making a dental appointment or updating your insurance. On the subject of insurance – remember that your insurance is only as good as your last declutter. Anything new that you may have acquired is quite simply uninsured and you won’t be compensated if it gets lost, stolen or damaged. 1st for Women recommends that you update your home contents inventory every year.

“Ultimately, by following these tips you’ll be able to feel and function better than before.  It will also give you the confidence to declutter other areas of your life that require more order and less chaos,” concludes Farrell.

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