Spring Is In the Air
The weather has cheered up considerably, the grass is growing and there might even be a blackbird outside your bedroom window kicking off at 4am these days. Spring has arrived at last.
But what does Spring mean for most of us? It can bring a change in mood and increased positivity, stemming from the longer daylight hours. It can also bring a sudden burst of enthusiasm for cleaning and decluttering your home – embrace this enthusiasm and get cracking, not just for the good of your home, but decluttering your environment can even be good for your mental health.
Declutter Your Life
The bit of extra sunshine streaming in through your open windows might boost your mood, but it is also falling on the clutter and dust that is somewhat hidden by the drawn curtains and soft lighting of dark winter evenings. This is the time to straighten things out.
A whisk around the house with three plastic bags – recycling, landfill and charity shop – can yield dramatic results. All those Boden catalogues with expired codes, a magazine that you kept for a picture of something you can’t even remember right now, that really nice Myla bra that you bought 10 years ago but haven’t worn since before you had children because the elastic has gone and you’re not the same bra size any more anyway, those nice tops that you bought for your last job but aren’t really your style any more – none of these things need to be in your home.
When you’ve filled the three bags, take another critical look at your wardrobe. It’s easy enough to bin the leggings that you got bleach on, but that beautiful dress from Karen Millen sale that you have never actually worn? Items like this are harder to let go of, but perhaps you can mitigate the loss by giving it to a friend who will love it. Cleansing your wardrobe can be hard, but it’s a lovely feeling to look at your pared back wardrobe, knowing that everything in it is both stylish AND useful.
If, like Melanie, you are heading to the gym or tennis court nearly every day, you don’t want to be wearing the same outfit all the time, but comfy activewear has a habit of finding its way into the “slobbing around” wardrobe eventually, when really it should be retired, and it’s easy to accumulate a collection of vests and leggings that don’t really need to be in your drawer any more (even if they were originally expensive).
Go through everything brutally and ditch anything bobbly or saggy, and if you haven’t worn it in six months, get rid of it. If you need to replace anything it doesn’t have to cost the earth. We’re very tempted by this (surely space-saving?) yoga all-in-one from H&M for just £19.99 – they have a lot of very stylish and affordable activewear going on this season, with lots of appealing navy, slate grey and peachy pink combinations.
Clutter and Mental Health
UCLA’s Centre for Everyday Lives and Families published some interesting research about clutter in 2012, called “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors”. Focussing on the US and the impact of consumption and our home lives, the researchers at UCLA found that for women, there is a link between high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone we’ve been talking about on here lately) and clutter.
“It’s difficult to find time to sort, organize and manage these possessions,” says Dr Anthony Graesch, the co-author of the study. “Thus, our excess becomes a visible sign of unaccomplished work that constantly challenges our deeply engrained notions of tidy homes and elicits substantial stress.”
By contrast, men don’t experience this rush of cortisol when presented with mess, which demonstrates just now much women (and not men) are conditioned from an early age to set a high value on a clean and tidy home and how we physically suffer for this now in adulthood.
However we respond to that, the fact remains that using one or two of these longer days we’re now enjoying to declutter your home will have a measurably positive effect on your stress levels. The only challenge now is keeping it that way…
Even if Marie Kondo hasn’t entered your life yet, you have definitely heard her name. Marie believes that there is nothing to be gained by decluttering slowly, disposing of one offending item a day. She feels that the best way to do it is to blitz your space all in one go, starting with a clean and decluttered slate.
If reading her book hasn’t quite given you the push yet, she has just launched the KonMari app, to help you assess your living space and its contents clearly and objectively, and then DECLUTTER.