6 easy ways to declutter as survey finds mess can impact mental health

Decluttering can be beneficial for your mental health. (Getty Images)
Decluttering can be beneficial for your mental health. (Getty Images)

Clutter. We all have it in our homes, but did you know that it can actually have a negative effect on your mental health?

In fact, a new survey from The Container Store, conducted by OnePoll, found that nearly half (48%) of people said that whether or not their home feels organised can impact their mental health, and 80% agreed that they feel more motivated when their home isn’t cluttered.

Nearly three in four people (73%) also said they can feel overwhelmed if they are faced with mess in their home.

"Research has consistently shown that there is a direct link between clutter and our mental well-being," professional home organiser, Liz Mansell of LM Home Sort, tells Yahoo UK.

"When our home is cluttered, our stress levels tend to rise. Visual clutter can overload the brain and make it difficult to relax and concentrate. This constant sensory overload can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious, impacting on our ability to focus.

"Keeping your home clutter free isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about creating a peaceful environment that promotes mental clarity and aids inner calmness."

So, if you are finding yourself feeling slightly overwhelmed by clutter in the home, don’t worry. This is a completely normal feeling. The good news is that there are some things you can do to lessen that feeling.

How to start decluttering your home

"I always say to my clients who feel overwhelmed, start with an area or room that you use the most, because that will have the most valuable impact on your daily life," Mansell explains.

This often includes the wardrobe, the kitchen, or the bathroom, as these are the areas we often use the most day to day.

"Whether that’s clearing out any old cosmetics from the bathroom, sorting out-of-date food in the pantry, or getting rid of any threadbare socks in the sock drawer, seeing the benefit of that small area on a daily basis can be enough to spur you on to more decluttering," Mansell says. "Once you start, decluttering is infectious!"

clothes on rack
When decluttering, it's important to only keep the things you use. (Getty Images)

The difference between decluttering and tidying

While you might think a simple tidy up is sufficient, if you are looking to declutter this is taking tidying one step further.

"[Decluttering] eliminates items that are no longer wanted, needed or used, which in turn, reduces not only the amount of visual clutter, but also the mental clutter too," Mansell says.

"Whilst tidying is a positive activity, which most people do on a daily basis, it lacks the streamlining that decluttering tackles. Why keep items in your home that aren’t useful or used? Channel your inner William Morris who famously said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’."

6 simple steps to start decluttering

1. Plan your decluttering session

First thing’s first: If you’ve decided it’s time to declutter, ensure you’ve set out an appropriate amount of time to do it.

"The most common mistake is making an impromptu start, but not being able to complete it, most likely due to the demands of modern life," Mansell says.

"Block the time out in your diary, like a meeting between you and your mental health, turn your phone on silent, and focus one step at a time."

2. Start small

"It’s so easy to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to decluttering," Mansell explains.

"Always set yourself achievable goals by starting small. Decluttering can be mentally challenging, so by breaking down larger goals, and starting one cupboard or drawer at a time."

3. Categorise your items

After you start decluttering, it’s important to categorise your items so you can decide what you truly want to keep.

"Whether you’ve chosen a wardrobe, a bookshelf or a kitchen cupboard, start by pulling every item out and put into categories," Mansell says. "By making neat piles of items, you can physically see what you have, which makes the task so much more achievable. Clarity is vital in this stage of the process."

woman donating clothes
Make sure whatever you want to donate to charity, you donate ASAP. (Getty Images)

4. Declutter with company

"Making decluttering decisions can be hard. I always recommend having an honest friend or relative with you," Mansell says.

"That second opinion can help speed up the process and can support you to be confident in your decisions."

At this stage she adds that you should have three piles: keep, charity, and sell.

5. Choose clever storage solutions

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to keep, it’s all about maximising your home’s storage potential.

"It's essential that you choose appropriate storage solutions," Mansell adds. "I thoroughly recommend drawer dividers and angular baskets, but I avoid curved storage options due to wasted space."

6. Don’t wait to donate

"Drop your donation pile to the charity shop as soon as possible," Mansell advises. "The longer it hangs around, the more likely you will question your judgement, and items will sneak back into your house."

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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