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Your Clutter May Be Concealing Some Critical Truths 

It’s hard to imagine that the clutter stacked on our countertops, and stuffed inside a few cabinets, closets and maybe the garage could signify an important revelation. It’s hard to imagine that it’d spark insights about who we are and what we need.

But it can.

For Brooke McAlary, who pens the blog Slow Your Home, decluttering revealed all sorts of uncomfortable truths: “I had no idea what I stood for, what was important in my life, what deserved my time and attention and what didn’t.”

McAlary wanted to portray a specific image to others, which was actually driving her desire to buy more and have certain things: “I wanted people to think I ‘had it all together,’ that I was successful and living a good, enviable life. I wanted to own the clothes, wear the makeup, have the new house, not because they were important to me but because I wanted to appear successful.”

Maybe you can relate.

Maybe you grew up in a family where appearances were everything, where your possessions somehow spoke to the person you were. Maybe you’re living in a neighborhood where that’s the case, where big homes, designer bags and pricey cars mean you’re successful—and ultimately that you’re worthy. Maybe you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses online instead of next door.

So you’ve accumulated everything from a closet crammed with clothes (with tags) to boxes of seasonal decorations to several collections of fine china and random trinkets. And you’ve unwittingly adopted values that when you really think about it, actually have nothing to do with what you sincerely believe.

Maybe you grew up in a family where gifts meant love, or there wasn’t enough money for presents. And so, you’ve given what feels like thousands and thousands of toys to your kids (and have thousands of dollars of debt).

Maybe your clutter reveals the person you yearn to be, but have yet to become: the athlete, the well-read book collector, the natural-born chef, the super creative mom who loves to craft and give homemade gifts. Which is why you cling to: the unused exercise equipment in the basement; the bikes and triathlon gear in the shed; the shelves of unread books; the cabinets of unused appliances; or the plastic bins filled with glue, scrapbook paper, old magazines and glitter.

Maybe your clutter represents someone you’re not anymore.

McAlary had a hard time getting rid of her jewelry supplies, even though she’d closed her jewelry business. “My identity for the past few years had been tied directly to that jewelry, and to give it away was admitting I wasn’t the person I thought I was,” she writes in her insightful new book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World. “I wasn’t the go-get-‘em budding entrepreneur or the hard worker or the mom who managed to balance work and stay-at-home parenting, and what did that say about me?”

Our clutter often represents our someday, a day that actually never comes. What does is the shame, which keeps lingering. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You wonder why you can’t get it together. You realize it must be because you’re inherently flawed.

You’re not. You’re simply changing. Or you were never interested in those things to begin with. That’s OK, too.

McAlary views decluttering as “a wonderful place to begin the work of excavating our true selves, our values, our priorities, and creating the time and space with which we can begin to live a more truthful version of life.”

clutter

In other words, getting rid of the excess can create the opportunity to shed old and no longer true parts of ourselves. It can create the opportunity to relinquish old needs, wants and wishes. It can create the opportunity to start living according to our most significant values.

McAlary eventually gave away all her jewelry, because it was dragging her down and keeping her stuck. As she writes in her book, “I continued to tie my identity to this stuff, but instead of being a positive thing, it had morphed into self-loathing and failure. Why would I want to keep that around?”

Letting go of the jewelry actually felt liberating—and it was both less scary and more exhilarating than she thought it would be.

She also let go of wanting to appear successful to others and started asking herself more meaningful (and tougher) questions: “What matters to me? What do I want my life to stand for? What do I want my legacy to be?”

What if you asked yourself these questions, too?

McAlary wrote her own eulogy when she was 31. “[I] have used it ever since as a foundation on which I’ve slowly built a life full of the things that are important to me. And while my eulogy had nothing at all to do with decluttering, I would never have had the clarity to sit and write it had I not spent time shedding layers of stuff for years before.”

She includes her eulogy in the book, which she imagines her children saying:

Quick to laugh, creative, compassionate, with a wicked sense of humor, Mom was never without a new plan or adventure on the horizon. She…was spontaneous, loyal, introspective, and believed wholeheartedly that we all have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it. Mom, we’ll miss you always. Thank you for our roots, but thank you even more for our wings.

When we declutter, we stop carrying the weight of all our things, of all our past needs and wishes and identities, of values we no longer hold, of shame that only shatters us.

“We can let go of the guilt and the obligations and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are,” McAlary said. “[A]nd we can put that time and energy in to things that truly matter to us.”

Which might mean savoring short trips and adventures with your family, practicing restorative yoga, taking dance classes, hosting dinner parties (where the main course is pizza from the delicious place down the block), and having items in your home that you absolutely love, that genuinely reflect who you are. Right now.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.         9 Sep 2018
 
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central.
Her Master’s degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University.
In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.


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The Practice of Letting Go

There are a number of times when our mind clings to something tightly, and it is rarely helpful:

  • I am right, the other person is wrong
  • That person is living their life in the wrong way, they should change
  • My preference is the best way, others are wrong
  • This is the thing I want, I don’t want anything else
  • I really don’t like that, it sucks
  • I should have that person in my life, loving me
  • I shouldn’t be alone, shouldn’t be overweight, shouldn’t be however I am, shouldn’t have this life

In all of these cases, and more, our minds are fixed in a certain viewpoint, and we often judge others. We complain. We are attached to what we want and what we don’t want.

It leads to stress. Unhappiness. Anger. Righteousness. Being judgmental. Distancing ourselves from others. Closed-offedness.

And it leads to being closed off to the beauty of this moment, as it is, full of openness and possibilities.

If you’d like to work on letting go, I would like to offer a simple practice.

mind

 

The Practice of Letting Go

You can actually practice this all day long, because even if we don’t realize it, we’re clinging and hardening and fixing upon viewpoints all day long.

Here’s how to practice:

  1. Start by realizing that you’re hardened. Notice that you are stressed, upset at someone, feeling like you’re right, complaining about someone or a situation, not open to other viewpoints, putting something off, avoiding, tensed. These are good signs that you are holding on, hardened in your viewpoint, fixed, attached, clinging. Get good at noticing this.
  2. Notice the tension in your body. It’s a tightening that happens from your stomach muscles, through your chest, into your throat, up to your forehead. Think of this as your central column, and it tightens up when you think you’re right, or someone else is wrong, or you really want something or don’t want something.
  3. Start to relax those tightened muscles. This is the heart of changing from holding on to letting go. Whatever is tight in your central column, relax. Try it right now. What is tight? Relax that. Soften.
  4. Open your awareness beyond yourself. Once you’ve done this (and you might have to repeat the relaxing, multiple times), you can open your awareness from just your own body and your self-concern, to the world around you. Become aware of the space around you, the people and objects, the light and sound. Open your awareness to the neighborhood around you.
  5. Become aware of openness & possibilities. With your mind opening, you can start to feel more open. Your mind is no longer closed, but has made space for possibilities. You are not fixated on one right way, but are open to everything. This is the beauty of not-knowing.
  6. Open to the beauty that is before you. Now that you are not fixated on rightness or your way or the way things should or shouldn’t be … you can take in the actual moment before you. You’ve emptied your cup, and made room for seeing things as they actually are, and appreciating the beauty of this moment, the beauty of other people, and of yourself.
  7. Step forward with a not-knowing openness. From this place of relaxing your fixed mind, of opening up … take the next step with a stance of not-knowing. You don’t know how things should be, let’s find out! You don’t know if you’re right or wrong, let’s explore! You don’t know the answers, you just hold the questions in your heart, and move into open possibilities.

It’s that simple. And of course, it takes a lot of practice. You can do this at any moment, but it’s helpful to have a short time of day when you set a reminder and then take a few moments to sit still and practice with whatever you’ve been clinging to today.

When we practice like this, we are shifting from our habitual patterns of self-concern and shutting out all possibilities, to openness and not-knowing, to unlimited possibilities and seeing the breath-taking beauty of the world in front of us.

BY LEO BABAUTA     FEBRUARY 4, 2019

zenhabits.net

Obstacles That Stop Us from Decluttering
—And How to Overcome Them

Years ago, Cas Aarssen would spend hours looking for lost items, cleaning and tidying, and dusting items she didn’t even like.
Sound familiar?
Sometimes, we get so entrenched in our routines that we don’t see the belongings that no longer belong in our homes. Or we feel too busy, too overwhelmed, too exhausted to tackle a big project such as decluttering. We think it’ll require energy and effort we just don’t have.
Another obstacle to decluttering is actually letting items go. “We are especially reluctant to declutter things that were expensive, have sentimental value, or things that we perceive as being useful ‘someday,’” said Aarssen, an author and professional organizer. “Unfortunately, almost everything can land in one of these categories and by holding onto too many ‘useful’ items, we are making the spaces in our homes ‘useless.’”
We also don’t get rid of items because our stuff starts to represent different possibilities. And that stuff ends up replacing our actual habits. For instance, professional organizer and ADHD coach Debra Michaud, M.A., worked with a client who had a growing yoga DVD collection, which she didn’t use. “What she really wanted was the habit, but she found herself instead buying more and more DVDs.”
Basically, our clutter can personify the people we want to be. The person who lifts weights and runs on the treadmill. The person who always looks put together in fancy (and uncomfortable) shoes. The person who uses cookbooks to make elaborate dinners for their family. The person who does arts and crafts and makes beautiful things.
“Unfinished projects are a very common cause of clutter,” Michaud said. You might be surrounded by broken things you’re planning on fixing one day and piles of magazines you’ll read next week or the week after that or the week after that or….
“People often hang on to [these items] as some sort of albatross, almost a punishment for not getting everything done.”
All of these are super-common obstacles—which you can absolutely overcome. These tips will help.
clutter
Have a clear vision
“The best motivator to declutter is to have a clear vision of what is beyond it,” Michaud said. She suggested asking yourself: What do you really want? What would you really miss?
Remind yourself regularly why you’re decluttering. For instance, clutter robs us of our time and causes a lot of needless stress, said Aarssen, bestselling author of Real Life Organizing and Cluttered Mess to Organized Success. It also zaps our energy, makes us inefficient, and prevents us from living in the present, Michaud said.
Start small
So overwhelm doesn’t stop you from starting, Michaud always suggests tackling clutter in small chunks. Really small. For instance, you might identify one item per day you’re going to donate.
Michaud also recommended using a timer, and starting with five-minute sessions. “Five minutes of focused decision-making is more productive than two hours of wheel-spinning and moving things around.” In fact, she defines clutter as “the interest we pay for deferred decisions (or projects).”
And because of the decision-making required, pick a time when you can focus, Michaud said. “At the end of a tiring workday, for example, will probably yield a frustrating and inefficient organizing session.”
Start with garbage
Aarssen suggested grabbing a garbage bag and filling it as quickly as possible with things you can throw away without any hesitation. For instance, this might include old receipts, expired medications, stale food, empty boxes, and old magazines.
Address your guilt
Michaud always tells her clients “wouldn’t you rather [an item] go to someone who needs it and uses it, than have it sitting in the back of your closet?” She also asks them if the giver would really want them to feel burdened by their gift. And, of course, they wouldn’t.
When it comes to unfinished projects, remind yourself that no one gets to everything. “In a way, letting go of clutter is…coming to terms with the finiteness of life,” Michaud said. However, “ironically, it’s when we let go that we start to feel in control.”
Self-reflect
If your stuff represents different possibilities, wishes and people, consider if those are still true for you. Consider if you even want to do these things, if you’d even enjoy them. Do you want to lift weights and run on the treadmill? Maybe you don’t—and that’s OK. Maybe you love to take walks. Maybe you actually prefer to cook quick meals, and don’t like cooking from recipes.
Either way, you’ll feel so much lighter once you let go of the stuff that represents your unrealized and unwanted dreams—along with those no longer-relevant dreams.
Donate 21 items
“I love this decluttering technique because it is a big enough number that you need to push yourself, but small enough that it isn’t overwhelming and won’t take you more than a few minutes to accomplish,” Aarssen said. Again, the key is to go quickly, and make it into a game.
Create a time capsule
According to Aarssen, when you’re really struggling to relinquish certain items, pack them in a box and write an expiration date on it: “If Not Used By September 2018, DONATE This Box.” Keep your box somewhere in your home. When that date arrives, if you haven’t missed or needed anything in the box, donate its contents, she said.
Get help
“Sometimes the biggest impediment to decluttering is just knowing when to reach out for help,” Michaud said. She suggested hiring a professional organizer or finding a neutral “clutter buddy.” This might be a close friend or a member of Clutterers Anonymous.
Whoever you pick, it’s important that they’re not judgmental and can ask you thoughtful questions, such as: “Do you love it? Do you use it? Realistically will you use it in the next 2 years? Would you buy it again today? Would you miss it?”
Decluttering does take time and energy and effort—but it’s time and energy and effort that aren’t a waste. It’s worthwhile, and it’s absolutely freeing. As Michaud said, “We often don’t even realize how much clutter is weighing on us until it’s gone.”
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. 
Associate Editor        8 Jul 2018


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10 Simple Ways To Bring Positive Energy Back Into Your Life

“The worst times can be the best if you think with positive energy.” 
– Domenico Dolce

Have you wondered what exactly is positive energy? According to Annie’s Hallmark, “Positive energy is the natural energy that supports life.  Ancients commonly referred to this energy as “chi” or “prana,” but today science refers to this as “vital force.”

Feeling low or negative is a normal thing that happens with all of the ups and downs that life has to offer. It can be easy to just wallow in those feelings, but we all hold the responsibility of bringing ourselves back from those negative feelings. Oftentimes, we tend to wait for positivity to happen to us, rather than learning how to bring positivity into our lives ourselves.

Dr. Judith Orloff, author of Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love says, “We can’t stop the negative circumstances of our time–our cell phones will keep ringing, e-mails will keep coming, people will be rude, our children will be demanding, and bad things will happen in the world. But we can learn ways to protect our energy so that we can stay centered in dealing with the stresses that arise.”

Therefore, it’s important to know how to bring positive energy into your life so you can move forward as a better and brighter person.

HERE ARE 10 SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING BACK POSITIVE ENERGY INTO YOUR LIFE

1. KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED

This can be difficult, but it’s important to know what you need to bring yourself out of those negative feelings. It can be as simple as needing a support system, and then reaching out to friends and family. Or, maybe you need time away from a stressful situation. While it can be hard to know what it is we need out of life, learning to assess and figure it out is one of the first steps to bringing positive energy back into your life. As Buddha rightly pointed out, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

2. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND DON’T THINK ABOUT NEGATIVITY

We all know how difficult it is to not focus on negative energy. Switching your focus from the negativity in your life can be just what you need to start to overcome it. As Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University pointed out, “Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

Therefore, when something negative happens, you’ll want to focus all your energy on the badness of the situation. Instead, it’s time to start taking those negative things and learning to see the silver lining. Focus on all of the positive things about a bad situation that you can, and figure out how to fix the negative.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

Learning how to be honest with yourself is one of the things that many people struggle with, and it can take time to learn. But once you learn to be honest with yourself, you’re going to be a much happier and positive person, because you’ll be able to acknowledge the hard truths about both yourself and your negative situations. Once you learn to be honest with yourself, you can start making the changes that you want to make in yourself.

4. REMEMBER TO BREATHE!

It’s important to take a moment to breathe when you’re in the middle of a negative situation. We’re oftentimes so caught up with running around trying to fix everything that we get caught up and forget to take a moment to ourselves to relax. So, remember to pause and take a deep breath. Both mentally, and physically. Breathing exercises will help keep your mind and body aligned and focused on positive energy.

5. REMEMBER TO LAUGH!

Even if something seems hopeless, it’s important to remember it’s okay to laugh at yourself, or the irony of a negative situation. The very act of laughter will release some good, positive chemicals and help you stay emotionally balanced. If you can learn to laugh at life, you’ll be good to go with replacing negative energy with positive.

6. PAY IT FORWARD BECAUSE LITTLE THINGS MATTER

When you get positive energy, remember to give positive energy. This will have the side-effect of giving you even MORE positive energy! This means reaching out to people, from friends to family to even strangers.

Here’s what author and founder of Success Consciousness, Remez Sasson said about being nice to people, “Acting kindly and being considerate will make people treat you in the same way, and this will lead to feeling good, happy, and therefore, becoming more positive.” This means that thinking positively about those around you, will extend your positive energy to your community. You’ll feel good about paying forward that positivity while also receiving positivity from others.

7. LEARN TO LET GO NO MATTER HOW HARD IT CAN SEEM

This is one of the most difficult steps that we all have to learn one way or another. Letting go of our negativity and sadness and anger can be so hard, but it’s always worth it in the end. You can only control yourself and the energy that you give out. If you find yourself hung up on a grudge or an old argument, you may be feeding negativity energy right into your life without knowing it.

Here’s what Catherine Pulsifer mentioned about trying to bring back positive energy into your life. She states, “It takes effort and belief to persevere and stay dedicated to accomplish your goal. When you find yourself doubting whether the effort is worth it, visualize how you will feel and what you will have once your goal is completed.” Learning to let go means you can begin the healing process and start feeling more positive energy.

8. CONNECT WITH NATURE

Nothing gives more positive vibes and relaxing energy than just reconnecting with Mother Earth. Going to the gym or the spa are good ways to relax your body and mind, but it’s also a good practice to just go for a walk through the woods or sit by the river and experience all of the majesty and wonder that the Earth has to offer. It can help remind you that you’re just one small part in the grand scheme of things.

9. LEARN TO FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS

Sometimes, we bottle our emotions up deep inside, especially if they’re negative or inconvenient to us. However, you have to learn to feel your emotions authentically and as they happen. When you feel sad, you have to let yourself feel that sadness. Because once you feel it and experience it, you can move on from it and return to your positive feelings. Bottling up your emotions only means that you’re going to be constantly feeding on negativity.

10. CLEAN YOUR SPACE AND BECOME CLUTTER-FREE

If you’re living in a cluttered environment, it can be harder to truly let yourself feel the positivity that flows around you. According to author and certified eco-designer Debra Duneier “This changes the energy and prepares the space to celebrate the wonderful things that are about to come into your life.” When you start to clean up your living space, you’ll feel so much lighter and calmer. It’s also a good way to relax and to rearrange your life so you feel less stress.

You never know when there will be something that causes a low point in your life, and being able to focus on yourself and bring positive energy into your life again will help you cope with whatever negative feelings are happening to you. Hopefully, these things will give you a better handle on how to bring positive energy back into your life.

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.YOURTANGO.COM/EXPERTS/GALTIME-COM/8-STEPS-ATTRACT-POSITIVE-ENERGY-YOUR-LIFE
HTTP://WWW.DRJUDITHORLOFF.COM/POSITIVE-ENERGY/DESCRIPTION.HTM
HTTP://WWW.NYTIMES.COM/2012/03/24/YOUR-MONEY/WHY-PEOPLE-REMEMBER-NEGATIVE-EVENTS-MORE-THAN-POSITIVE-ONES.HTML?MCUBZ=1
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/BLOG/POSITIVE-ATTITUDE/FOCUS-ON-THE-POSITIVE-AVOID-THE-NEGATIVE/
HTTPS://WWW.SUCCESSCONSCIOUSNESS.COM/STOP-NEGATIVE-THINKING.HTML


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Why Clutter is BAD for your Health

So you come home after a busy day at work and sit down on the couch in front of the TV and plop your feet on your “antiquish” coffee table. As you open your eyes after waking up from your 2-second nap, you realize the piles of stuff around you. Your mind has now become distressed and goes into overdrive to process your space.

The Effects of Clutter and Stress

STRESS, the 5-letter word that is seen as both positive and negative. We try to keep it out of our lives and at the same time we can’t live without it. Stress is how we deal with challenges or threats in our lives. When we feel threatened, our body responds by releasing stress hormones called cortisol. High levels of Cortisol can:

  • Lower immune function and bone density
  • Increase weight gain
  • Increase blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease
  • Increase risk of depression and mental illness
  • Lower life expectancy

As mentioned before, in many cases stress is positive as it helps us concentrate, focus and stay alert, but an overload can be detrimental to our health.

Here are a few guidelines on how to stop clutter in its track and focus on living a more happy, stress-free and clutter-free life.

  • Would I pay to move it? If this answer is No then it probably isn’t important enough to keep
  • Does it make me happy? After touching an item and there’s no sense of joy or good memory then it may be time to part ways.
  • What is it about? What is the real reason you can’t let go of an item? Sometimes the items we hold on to bring back a memory whether it is good or bad.

At first it may seem overwhelming to know that you will need to get rid of your stuff to remove unnecessary stress in your life but with practice and persistence, it will come natural. By the time you know it, you’ll be able to slide down the hall without worrying about anything stopping you.

 December 29, 2015                Judi Igwe

Resource and References
Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No.1 – Christopher Bergland 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. (Psychologytoday.com)

 


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The Science Behind Why It’s So Hard to Get Rid of Clutter

There’s a clear link between what you keep and how you feel about yourself.

BY AMY MORIN    PUBLISHED ON: FEB 12, 2016
Author, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”    @AmyMorinLCSW

There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has sold millions of copies and dominated the bestseller lists since it’s release in 2014–people yearn for simple, clutter-free spaces. Despite the desire for simplicity, embracing Kondo’s minimalist lifestyle may be more difficult than it seems.

Kondo recommends only keeping the items that “spark joy” and eliminating everything else. Readers who successfully adopt Kondo’s methods report emptying drawers, cleaning closets, and clearing off table tops in an effort to unload heaps of clutter.

While a tidier home can spark joy for many people, others aren’t willing–or emotionally able–to part with their possessions. Getting rid of stuff stirs up a lot of emotional turmoil and for some, it’s just not worth it.

Whether you’re hesitant to donate clothes that went out of style a decade ago, or you’re reluctant to toss your childhood bowling trophy, you’re not alone. Research explains why it can be so difficult to part with your possessions.

The Link Between What You Have and Who You Are

The objects you struggle to get rid of are likely tied to your self-worth, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Rather than viewing those objects as “mine,” you may think of them as “me.”

The study found that people struggle the most to part with possessions that lack monetary or functional value. That’s why people who lose their possessions to burglaries or fires report the psychological damage is far worse than the financial loss.

clutter

According to researchers, the items you hang onto are likely to be linked directly to your self-worth. And people measure their self-worth in different areas.

While one person may link their worth to their physical appearance, someone else may think their value stems from other people’s approval. Whatever objects you cling to the most, are likely the ones that fuel your self-worth.

If you place a lot of value in success, for example, you may have trouble getting rid of anything that serves as a tangible reminder of your accomplishments. A plaque from your last job, an expensive watch that no longer works, or a stack of old college transcripts may represent your achievement.

Throwing away these objects might cause you to feel slightly less successful. It’s as if these physical manifestations of your triumphs will somehow take away from your achievements.

If however, you value your relationships above everything else, you may have difficulty getting rid of gifts from other people. Donating that shirt that never fit, may lead you to feel like you’re being disloyal to Grandma. Or, getting rid of that book your friend gave you, may cause you to feel like you’re giving away a little bit of your friendship.

Those palpable objects likely fuel your identity as someone who is loved and appreciated. Despite their lack of function, you may feel like they serve as proof that you mean something to other people.

To Keep or Not to Keep

The study shows that getting rid of these objects leads to real grief. Parting with possessions that make you feel worthy can cause you to experience sadness–and even depression.

So the next time you get frustrated by your cluttered desk or your spare room that serves as a catch-all, consider whether those objects you’re holding onto have anything to do with your self-worth. Not only could it give you some insight into the way you measure your self-worth, but it might also help you decide what’s worse: the grief you’ll experience if you toss it or the frustration you experience from looking at the clutter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

source: www.inc.com


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8 Chores With Unexpected Scientific Health Benefits

Why washing dishes, making your bed, dusting, and other common chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease. You’ll never look at your To-Do list the same way again.

Wash dishes: Reduce anxiety

People who cleaned their plates mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature, and touching the dishes) lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent, found a recent study of 51 people out of Florida State University’s psychology department. People who didn’t take as thoughtful approach to their dish washing did not experience a similar calming benefit.

Dust with a lemon cleaner: Be happier

A citrusy scent is a potent mood booster, according to a 2014 Japanese study. When participants spent as little as ten minutes inhaling yuzu (a super-tart and citrusy Japanese fruit), they saw a significant decrease in their overall mood disturbance, a measure of tension, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and anger, PureWow recently reported.

clean-windows-lemon-cleaner
iStock/petek arici

Make your bed every morning: Boost productivity

Your nagging mom was right: Starting your day with a freshly made bed is what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit”; one that has a ripple effect to create other good behavior. In his book, Duhigg notes that making your bed every morning is linked to better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking to a budget. Bedmakers also report getting a better night’s sleep than those who leave their covers messy in the morning, per a National Sleep Foundation poll reported by WebMD.

Clean up your yard: Prevent a heart attack

Need motivation to break out the vacuum cleaner? People who did the most yard work, housecleaning, and DIY projects had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of a first-time cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke compared with those who were the most sedentary, according to a new Swedish study of 3,800 older adults.

Banish kitchen clutter: Lose weight

A recent study showed that people with super-cluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. The likely reason: It’s harder to make healthy food choices in a chaotic kitchen. Organizing guru Peter Walsh, author of Cut the Clutter, Drop the Pounds, has been inside of hundreds of people’s homes. He says once people get finally get organized, they tend to experience a number of other unexpected perks, including weight loss, without strict dieting!

Mow the lawn: Feel more joyful

There’s something to that grassy scent. Australian researchers discovered that a chemical released by freshly cut grass makes people feel more relaxed and more joyful.

Grow flowers and vegetables: Lower depression risk

In a study out of Norway, people diagnosed with different forms of depression spent six hours a week gardening; after a few months, they experienced a notable improvement in their depression symptoms, and their good moods continued for months after the study ended. Doing a new activity and being outside in nature can certainly help, but some experts believe that dirt itself might be a depression fighter, according to Health.com. Christopher Lowry, PhD, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been injected mice with a common, harmless bacteria found in the soil. He’s found that they experience an increase in the “release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood, much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do,” the site reported.

Share chores with your spouse: Have a better sex life

When men perceived their contribution to household chores as fair, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex, according to a 2015 study from the University of Alberta. “If a partner isn’t pulling their weight in housework, either one will have to pick up the slack, or the chores will remain undone. This will develop tension and bitterness in the relationship, which will transfer into the bedroom,” according to MedicalDaily.

By Lauren Gelman

source: www.rd.com


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10 Things You Should Know About Compulsive Hoarding

By Therese Borchard

Many people might claim that, at least at one point in their lives, they could be classified as a “pack rat” or a “closet clutterer.” However, compulsive hoarding is an anxiety disorder that involves much more than keeping extra papers and magazines around, or collecting CDs under your desk. Severe compulsive hoarding can interfere with a person’s activities–such as cooking, cleaning, showering, and sleeping–because piles of newspapers or clothes are found in the sink, in the shower, on the bed, and in every corner of a home.

There is more awareness of the issue today, due in part to the two reality TV series: “Hoarders” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” However, there is still so much more educating that needs to be done regarding this issue.

Here, then, are ten things you should know about hoarding. Much of the information was taken from the research of Gerald Nestadt, M.D., M.P.H and Jack Samuels, Ph.D. of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

1. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.

2. Compulsive hoarding is often considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) because between 18 and 42 percent of people with OCD experience some compulsion to hoard. However, compulsive hoarding can affect people who don’t have OCD.

3. The OCD Collaborative Genetics Study reported that genetic linkage findings are different in OCD families with and without hoarding behavior, suggesting that a region on chromosome 14 is linked with compulsive hoarding behavior in these families and that hoarding is a distinct genetic subtype of OCD.

clutter

4. The compulsion to hoard often starts during childhood or the teen years, but doesn’t usually become severe until adulthood.

5. Hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.

6. Many hoarders are perfectionists. They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything.

7. Hoarding often runs in families and can frequently accompany other mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems. A majority of people with compulsive hoarding can identify another family member who has the problem.

8. Compulsive hoarders rarely recognize their problem. Generally, only after the hoarding becomes a problem with other family members is the problem discussed.

9. Compulsive hoarding can be difficult to control. It is usually treated in the same way OCD is. However, compulsive hoarding doesn’t usually respond as well as other kinds of OCD.

10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be more effective for compulsive hoarding than medications, especially when it involves a therapist going into the home of the hoarder and helps her to develop habits and a consistent behavioral program to try to de-clutter her home, car, and life.


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20 Ways Changing Your Space Can Change Your Life

BY DANA CLAUDAT      FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Without space, where would we exist? Space is THAT important to life.

Not only is space vital, but we see and feel its importance even when we don’t know exactly how to articulate it. You know the places you avoid. We all know when something is “off” or “not right” or feels “haunted,” even if we don’t know why or how to fix it.

We’re inextricably tied to space and the energy of that space.

Take a moment to imagine the place where you’ve felt most at home in your life.

It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it?

Do you feel that feeling now at home? If not, you can. You just need to make the connection.

Feng shui is the ancient art and science of creating incredible environments to support incredible lives. The more of a connection you can make to your own personal space, the more that space can help you to change your life.

Here are 20 of the most common ways I’ve seen lives change when spaces change:

1. You’ll have more energy.

When you adjust your home in ways that eliminate basic obstacles and clutter, you create more flow in your life.

2. You’ll clear away emotional blocks.

Get rid of just a few bits of emotionally loaded clutter and you’ll feel the emotional weight associated with that clutter leave your life as well.

3. You’ll amp up your personal style.

It’s called “lifestyle” for a reason. Not “life obligation.” Not “life rules.” Beautification is also self-betterment.

4. You’ll feel at home when you’re at home.

Rather than simply being a place to live, a home reflects your confidence, security and deeper sense of belonging in life.

5. You’ll become more creative.

A home filled with things that you love will inspire you to synergize new ideas, and even explore new ways to communicate.

6. You’ll live with more depth.

The feeling of superficial existence — largely digital and fast-paced — melts greatly in the soft textures of a home that is a sanctuary.

7. You’ll launch your dreams.

When you’re organized and clear of clutter, you have a solid foundation to build a life that’s so much more stable.

8. You’ll break habits.

Going on vacation is a great way to help you break bad habits, as you remove common triggers to behavior when you go away. A home makeover can be just as effective, year-round.

9. You’ll relax more.

Serene spaces — especially ones filled with nature — are intensely relaxing.

home-sweet-home

10. You’ll sleep better.

Simple adjustments to your bedroom can help you sleep much more soundly.

11. You’ll expand your social life.

Having a space to entertain instantly opens up your social life directly, but simply having a decluttered home that welcomes in fresh energy also opens up your life to more connection.

12. You’ll make more money.

Money is energy. The more you can clear clutter and live in a high-energy space of beauty, the more abundance tends to come naturally.

13. You’ll have more healthy boundaries.

Being drained by energy vampire personalities or overly committing yourself can leave you in last place; a clean, clear and organized home helps you put yourself first in an empowering way.

14. You’ll think clearly.

Sit in chaos and darkness, and try to make important decisions. Now, go to a beautiful, light, refreshing space. Big difference, right?! A clear space reflects a clear mind.

15. You’ll feel more wellness in your life.

Wellness is about connection. Connecting to your body, your emotions, your breath and your determination all fuel your well-being. Making this connection to your space will powerfully support your wellness revolution.

16. You’ll make a fresh start.

In some sort of transition? Changing your home can help guide you through a time of big change, supporting you through a fresh start!

17. You’ll become more grounded.

Imagination, ideas, vision and dreaming are all vital, but a grounded life helps you to put those ideas into action in a much more concrete way.

18. You’ll risk bigger.

It’s way easier to take a big risk if you’re feeling great and supported by your life rather than when you’re feeling stifled and confused.

19. You’ll live with more purpose.

If your home is designed specifically to support and encourage your dreams, every step you take though that home you’ll be reminded of your purpose!

20. You’ll love more!

Ultimately, it’s all about love, right? Love for your life, love for everyone in it, attracting love, living in love … all of it! From filling a room with colors that inspire you to decluttering objects from a brokenhearted era of the past, your environment can be a catalyst for so much more self-esteem and love every day.

Are you ready to make a space shift of your own? You can start small and open some windows for a few minutes, burn a candle and clean your house. That is a great feel-good step. You’ll see and feel the difference instantly.

Want to really make a space shift of greatness? I’ve created a video course, Your Guide To DIY Feng Shui: Change Your Space To Change Your Life, to help you overhaul your space and your entire experience in the world. When you have a little guidance, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel!

 


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8 Creative Ways to Clear Clutter

by Money Talks New   s 1/11/15  

These tips from Money Talks News are exactly what you need if you’re looking to declutter your home or office space!

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by the postholiday excess all around you? Have the past several years of your family’s success with Santa left your closets, garage, attic, and office filled to the rafters? If so, it may be time for some creative clutter-busting strategies.

Now, here are eight ways of kicking the clutter habit now:

1. Start with three questions

Let three questions cut through your material clutter by cutting through the mental clutter that often makes it difficult to part with things. With each item you consider, ask yourself:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I use it?
  3. Will I ever need it?

If your response to each of these questions is no, then it’s much easier to rationalize passing the item along and letting it find a new home. But be ruthlessly honest as you answer each query. Responses that begin with “No, but . . . ” usually mean that your decluttering is sputtering.

2. Target one area at a time

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that most of us live with. Deciding to declutter and live happily with less is an achievement in its own right. Instead of diving right in and burning out quickly, focus on one area of your home or office at a time.

Because a little positive reinforcement never hurts, start with the easiest areas first. Declutter a chest of drawers, a hall closet, one kitchen cupboard, or a single drawer in your desk. Then use that momentum to move on to the next spot.

If it helps, make a list of all the clutter hot spots that need attention and check each one off as you calm the chaos.

3. Get rid of one item per day

If taming the clutter in your environment seems like an impossible task, start slowly. Decide to rid yourself of just a single item per day but be determined and relentless.

As the weeks and months pass, you’ll begin to notice and enjoy the extra elbow room your efforts have created. Build on your success by accelerating the clutter-busting schedule and letting go of two or three items each day.

declutter-picture

4. Adopt a one-in-one-out rule

To achieve and maintain a clutter-free home or office, adopt a zero-accumulation habit. For every new item that comes into your space, make sure one item goes. Donate or sell usable items and toss what’s left.

For a more aggressive take on the same idea, try a one-in-two-out rule and watch those prodigious piles and cramped closets slowly disappear.

5. Think inside the box

The four-box method is a tried-and-true way to quickly get a handle on large amounts of clutter while still ensuring that each item is consciously considered. To begin, get four large boxes and assign each box one of these labels:

  • Donate.
  • Sell.
  • Trash/recycling.
  • Keep and relocate.

As you process the stuff all around you, each item must land in a box. The boxes become a macro filing system that prevents you from just moving piles around and helps you sort what’s needed and what’s not. When you finish organizing one area, empty the boxes according to their label and start over.

6. Do the dozen

Organize strictly by the numbers and watch the piles shrink fast. Choose a regular time each week or month for a 12-12-12 decluttering project. Find a dozen items in your home or office to donate, a dozen to toss or recycle, and a dozen to return to their proper place. In short order, you’ve gone through at least 36 items and rid yourself of 24.

7. Impose a space limit

As if by magic, the volume of our possessions expands to fit the available space. Before we know it, that larger house we scrimped and saved for is just as cramped as the smaller one we left behind.

To help combat the slow creep of clutter, impose an artificial space limit for problem areas. For example, decide to accumulate no more kitchen utensils than will fit into a single drawer, or only enough makeup for one travel-sized cosmetics bag. Using a finite physical space to limit the seemingly infinite potential of clutter is relatively painless and helps keep those molehills from becoming mountains.

8. Go digital

Ah . . . if only everything we owned could be digitized and stored in the cloud for easy retrieval when we needed it. It sounds like a minimalist’s dream. Thankfully, at least some of the stuff around us qualifies for easy digital or cloud-based storage.

Clear your desk by scanning documents and photos and storing them digitally through a service like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox. If you don’t have access to a scanner, try minimizing some of the paper clutter by photographing documents.

Few things are more refreshing and reenergizing than starting out the New Year with less stuff and a sharper focus. And it’s relatively simple to do. Cutting the clutter just takes a bit of smart strategy and good old-fashioned perseverance. No matter what method you choose to begin, the biggest step is the first step.


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10 Reasons To Stop What You’re Doing and Start Clearing Your Clutter

By Dana Claudat     November 13, 2013

Collecting and being consumed by clutter on a grand scale is a relatively modern concept. Our ancient ancestors didn’t have a supermarket at nearly every corner, malls and online shopping at every turn. When life was less complicated, there were not nearly as many ways to accumulate excess, the unwanted stuff we call “clutter.”

In feng shui, there’s a concept of energy flow and vitality known as “chi,” or “qi”. This life-force energy needs to move freely and in abundance in a space for it to promote heath, happiness and prosperity. Clutter creates an obstruction and stops that amazing flow.

Clutter can be found in an array of places, and can be cleared on many levels. Here are a few common causes of clutter:

  •     Clothes that don’t fit, or that you don’t like in your closet
  •     A refrigerator or pantry filled with expired foods or food that affects you negatively
  •     Books you don’t want to read on the shelf
  •     Excess paper clutter in offices
  •     Email overwhelm and social media clutter of messages
  •     Purses, wallets
  •     Storage units, attics and garages

And the list goes on.

I could just suggest that you clear up your clutter — donate what you can, recycle, up-cycle, file, store or safely dispose of the rest — and a few of you will do it. Many of you won’t. It is a chore.

Clearing clutter is also an emotional process for many people, especially when the clutter is extreme. It can create chaos and frustration at the outset to clear your clutter.

If you don’t quit clearing the clutter, even when it gets chaotic for a moment, this act of purging can be a life-changing activity! But, if you don’t know how it can help you, you might leave it undone.

Here are a handful of the benefits of clearing clutter — the profoundly cool ones I have seen again and again — that might just motivate you to start clearing out some of your own space.

1. You’ll feel less anxious.

Clutter is made up of stuff that is either junk, unfinished projects you’ve told yourself you’ll finish, or things that need to be handled that you haven’t wanted to confront. All of those messages looming in your environment, even stuffed in closets and drawers, are like trying to stuff a bad memory away instead of dealing with it in a conscious way.

2. Your days will be more productive.

When you don’t have physical obstructions like piles of paper staring you in the face, you can do so much more in much less time.

lessismore

3. You may lose some weight!

Several clients and friends have shown me that clutter can be correlated with excess weight. Since our environments are an external mirror of our internal mind and life, when you free yourself of the extra stuff, pounds tend to come off, even if you aren’t clearing your kitchen (*though I suggest the kitchen as a first step for most people aiming to lose weight).

4. You’ll be free of emotional stagnation.

The gifts from past romances that haunt you, the things you hold onto that you know are keeping you stuck in the past… releasing them will help you to feel more free and present.

5. Your mental focus will sharpen.

Clear spaces and countertops are a feng shui way to express metal energy. Metal energy in feng shui helps you to curate, to think sharply and zero in on the tasks that you select as important.

6. Your creativity can flourish.

When you shake yourself free of “stuff” you don’t need, you become more open to that “life force,” or “chi,” I mentioned earlier. Creativity on a high level is the expression of that energy running through us without obstruction. We say we are “blocked” when we can’t create freely. Clutter-clearing is a tool to get unblocked.

7. You’ll get allergy relief.

Stuff collects dust, chemicals, mites, bugs… even mold and other organisms in the worst-case scenarios.

8. You’ll be open to opportunity.

One much-reported effect of clutter clearing is finding money or greater opportunity, especially when you dig deep into de-cluttering your business emails, work space, office files and even your personal contacts.

9. You’ll get a self-esteem boost.

Clutter assaults our self-esteem daily with reminders of things we don’t need or want to see: the broken, worn-out, bad-memory stuff that can drag you down in subtle but actual ways.

10. You’ll have more energy and be happier!

When there’s nothing hovering in your environment — stuffed, piled or splayed out — to impede motion, you might feel lightness, exuberance and greater energy. I always do!

If you’re overdue for a clutter clearing, give it a go. Slowly and consistently, you can create a massive change in your space and your life. If you have some stuff piling up regularly (emails, mail, receipts, etc), you may want to consider a daily or weekly practice of clutter clearing. Even a few minutes of clearing space can do wonders for your life!

source: www.mindbodygreen.com