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Declutter Your Mind by Decluttering Your Home

Rita Colorito
Striking Balance

Woman washing the dishes

You don't have to be a hoarder to feel the ill effects of clutter on your mental health. While hoarding is the obsessive collection of one item or items of little or no value, clutter is the over accumulation of many, different items, which can result in a feeling of chaos and disorganization.

Clutter has become the "dark side" of homes, according to ScienceDaily. An overwhelming attachment to our possessions can interrupt our life, our decision making and how we interact with others. Declutter your mind and regain control of your life with these three spring cleaning tips.

1. Apply the "Use It or Lose It" Rule to Your Wardrobe

So many New Year's resolutions hinge on fitting into jeans you wore five years ago (or maybe even in high school). While it's admirable to set fitness goals, a closet full of clothes that don't fit might work against you — a constant reminder of weight not yet lost. Or maybe you're holding onto a trendy outfit you bought on a whim. And it's no longer trendy. And you never wore it. Instead of feeling guilty about the money you spent, you can recuperate some economic value by donating the clothing and taking a tax deduction. A financial or tax advisor can help you with the deduction.

Go through your entire wardrobe. If you haven't worn an item in the last year, donate it. You'll gain closet space to keep the clothes you do wear better organized, and you'll get rid of the mental stress of having to sift through clothes that don't belong.

2. Practice "Act, File or Toss"

Paper piles seem to multiply like bunnies. What's worse, important documents somehow disappear when you need them. To keep incoming paperwork from taking over, put it into three piles — those you act on, those you file for later reference and those you toss. For action items such as bills, sit down and pay them as they come in. Even better, declutter your mind from the worries of missing a payment by enrolling in, automatic bill payment through your checking or savings account. Keep a file folder handy to save important documents, such as real estate taxes. Sign up for electronic delivery of other important financial documents. You can easily access these with an electronic file. Toss junk mail into the recycling bin immediately.

3. Cut Mindless Eating by Cleaning Your Kitchen of Clutter

Tackling kitchen clutter can help you get a handle on both your mental and physical health. The most used room in the house is a repository for stuff — dirty dishes, piles of mail, stacks of newspapers and magazines. If you're already stressed out, a messy, chaotic kitchen might tempt you to snack on unhealthy foods, according to the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Stressed participants in Cornell's study consumed twice as many cookies in cluttered kitchens as those in organized kitchens, adding 65 calories to their diet.

Decluttering your home this spring should be as much a priority as cleaning the stove or polishing the silverware. In fact, you might want to get rid of that silverware, too, if it's causing you mental anguish. In the end, decluttering your mind and staying mentally and physically healthy adds more value to your life than silver dessert forks you never use. Sell them online, and next year, that's one less spring cleaning chore.

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