Considering a spring clean as we shake off the last bit of winter? Studies show that tidying up can be beneficial to mental health.
May 4th welcomes a new moon, presenting with it an opportunity for both refreshed intentions and living spaces. We’re all familiar with the idea of spring cleaning — opening up the windows, allowing the fresh breeze to sweep away the remaining chill lingering in the corners, shaking out the cobwebs and dust of a closed-up winter. But as mother nature does her work, what can we do to take advantage of a spring refresh?
The ‘Magic of Tidying Up’
If you’ve ever wondered what an organizational guru in the form of a fairy godmother would look like, Marie Kondo is your girl. In 2014, she released her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up motivating millions of people to declutter and organize their lives. While she isn’t the creator of the minimalist lifestyle she definitely helped *spark* a movement in recent years. Marie doesn’t refer to her method as “minimalism” (she’s an organizer who enjoys simplicity) and in short, she says if something doesn’t ‘spark joy’ for you, it doesn’t need to take up space in your home or in your mind.
Since then many have touted the benefits of decluttering or living minimally with their own personal narratives while similarly studies have shown to generally support these claims.
Decluttering physically & mentally
Cleaning up your physical spaces can contribute to boosting mental and emotional health. Minimalism isn’t about having only the bare necessities, it’s about discovering what’s important to us as individuals -- an exercise in mindfulness. If your intention is for a streamlined, less stressful, and more organized lifestyle, spring cleaning with a minimalist mindset is a worthwhile task with a wide range of mental benefits.
The exercise of spring cleaning in a minimalist way will provide clarity. Taking an inventory of the things you own and sorting them into categories is one way to approach this project. Marie Kondo uses five categories to sort belongings. However, you don’t have to use her specific approach to incorporate this minimalist mindset into your life . A simple Google search will find checklists created by organization professionals that best suit your personal preferences.
The next step in decluttering is where you’ll find clarity. Separating out the necessities and nonessentials in each of the categories allows you to see how much stuff you have versus those things that you actually need for daily living. But because we’re simplifying -- not just clearing out all our possessions -- the last filter is your joy.
Ask yourself: Do I need this item? Is this just a physical representation of a happy memory; is the memory enough to spark joy or do I need this thing?
A mindful approach to organizing our things opens our eyes to the things we need to be happy and healthy.
When you’re seeing clearly, you can focus on the important stuff in life. Decluttering and simplifying our environment reduces noise -- the things we see, the things our minds have to process, the things that require our attention. It allows us to zero-in on the things that really need our attention without distraction. We become more efficient in accomplishing tasks, less distracted in our interactions with people that matter, and mentally organized.
The final (and possibly the greatest) broad-stroke benefit of spring cleaning with a minimalist view is freedom. Living in a simple and organized space frees you from stress, comparison, materialism, and decision fatigue.
The noise of cluttered and messy spaces feeds into our brain forcing us to process unnecessary information, causing stress.
With less stuff, there’s less to think about, less to worry about. Less stress. Having exactly what we need and love, the stress of comparing ourselves to others is removed. We begin to understand that stuff is not happiness — freedom from material things however is. When we’re not buying lots of little things we don’t really need, we have more money for higher-quality items that add value to our lives. With less need, there’s less objects that require our attention and decision making abilities.
And we could all use a little less of all of that. Open your windows, take a deep breath, get organized! Happy spring cleaning everyone!