19ºF

How decluttering your space can bring you a happier life

Experts say decluttering can make people feel better emotionally

DETROIT – Are you ready to unclutter your life? Studies find getting rid of clutter not only gives you a tidier home, but also a happier life.

The practice of decluttering is very trendy right now, spurred in large part by Marie Kondo's hit show, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo."

Many people who start cleaning their homes are finding that doing so not only affects their family's physical space, but also their mental outlook.

"This is how I started, and then it moved into all my shoes being in containers, and then I got the shoe organizer," realtor Jordan McMakin said. "All these hangers had clothes on them that are given away to someone who would actually wear them."

McMakin said that, after constantly telling her clients to declutter, the realization finally set in that she had too much stuff.

"I had six tie-dye T-shirts," McMakin said. "I was, like, 'I might need this for something.'"

She said decluttering her home helped her declutter everything in her life.

"It's, like, as soon as I started organizing my closet and my drawers and the kitchen and compartmentalizing everything, there was just clarity with other parts of my life," McMakin said. "I know that sounds strange, but I started getting organized with goals that I need to do for the day, planning for the week. It just stemmed in all facets of my life."

That doesn't sound strange to psychologist Rebecca Corona.

"Having a cluttered environment sometimes makes it difficult to see the possibilities, and once it's clear, you're able to concentrate and see things a little bit better, and anything is possible, which can bring joy to someone," Corona said.

She said the physical act of decluttering can release the same endorphins as exercise, which makes people feel emotionally better. If you've wanted to declutter but haven't found the motivation, experts say spring can be the perfect time for a fresh start.

"It's part of the renewal of spring," Corona said. "I think it's correlated with the lifting of our moods. We get more active behaviorally, and this is one of the activities."

Once you reach your goals, your space can become an instant de-stressor.

"Once we are able to see that we can cope and that we can manage without those belongings, we might feel better, and sometimes just seeing that stuff just makes us anxious," Corona said.

It's important to note that clutter isn't all bad. One study found that having a clean, orderly desk tends to promote conventional thinking while having a messy, disorganized desk leads to more creativity and fresh ideas.

Psychologists say it's important for people to understand that the decluttering process takes time and won't happen overnight. They suggest starting with the space that bothers you the most and working on it consistently.

The best way to ensure that you'll actually keep decluttering is to schedule it on a calendar, experts say.


About the Authors: