One need not spend too much time watching HGTV or browsing Pinterest these days to notice the huge decluttering trend emerging. Everywhere you look, people are downsizing, simplifying and minimizing. From tiny houses to the ever-growing home storage and organization industries, people are pushing back against clutter and excess.
But why is the trend so popular? What does everyone else seem to know that maybe you don’t? Should you join in? How do you even get started?
It can be difficult getting rid of things you think you need or want. Maybe you aren’t ready to minimize. Or maybe you don’t need to at all. You don’t have too much stuff, it’s just all sort of… disorganized.
It’s time to declutter.
The benefits of simplifying and decluttering are likely much broader than you could have guessed. It isn’t just about not having to eat dinner with a plate on your lap or not having to panic if someone stops by unexpectedly. In fact, people are discovering that, by tidying up their homes and lives, they are seeing benefits in their health, happiness, and relationships, along with a host of other unforeseen advantages.
Here are five of the least known benefits of decluttering.
1. A simpler home.
Ever come home from work after a long, stressful day, wanting nothing more than to just relax in the peace and quiet of your own home? Then you walk in and see the mess you left for yourself? Clothes that don’t fit in the closet. Toys that you don’t really have a place for. Months’ worth of mail stacked up on the mantle or hall table. Dishes and appliances that stay on the counter because you have long since run out of cabinet space. And it’s been years since you’ve been able to park in the garage.
That isn’t peaceful. It isn’t relaxing. It’s more stress. And in the one place in the world that is supposed to be your barrier against it. Make your home the sanctuary you need. Let it be your refuge from the stressful, chaotic world outside. Don’t bring it in.
A tidy house allows you to unwind after a long day, instead of immediately feeling guilty or overwhelmed by the state of your house.
2. A happier home
Do you ever look around and tell yourself that you are “outgrowing your house?” Are you considering buying a larger house because you and your family simply “don’t fit” into it anymore?
Many families feel this way, but before signing another mortgage, it is important for you to step back and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if it is really you that is outgrowing the space or your stuff that is outgrowing it. Many people confuse the two.
Don’t buy a larger house just to fit your things. Consider simplifying instead. Learn to live with only what you need. No one is asking you to be a monk and swear off all worldly possessions, but if you don’t use it, don’t keep it. People are constantly amazed by how much space they can clear up in their own home. You may discover it’s plenty for your family.
If you honestly need another bedroom or bathroom for a growing family, then, sure, you may have to move. But be honest with yourself beforehand. Upsizing your home isn’t something you’re obligated to do as you grow older. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is some sort of American dream. Consider decluttering and redesigning your own space, instead. You’ll be amazed how much it can improve your current home.
3. A better relationship
On top of causing stress to you, a cluttered, chaotic home can be an enormous strain on your relationship. If you can’t unwind from a busy day at the office, if your home brings you no joy or happiness, who do you think you are most likely to take it out on? Those you share it with. And the same goes for him or her. If it causes you stress, it likely does them too.
Arguments often arise from clutter. Car door frozen shut during the winter and late for work? Well, if your spouse didn’t have hundreds of boxes of Avon crap in the garage, you could have parked in there. Isn’t that what garages are for?! You all missed a bill last month and your credit took a hit? Well, if your spouse would find another place for their stupid stamp collection besides the dining room table, it would never have been lost. Hope you don’t accidentally use one of those ultra-rare stamps to send off the cable bill next month.
Clutter isn’t conducive to happiness. In fact, it’s a barrier to romance and intimacy. Excessive clutter drains people of energy. It causes you to focus on it, worry about it, and perhaps even obsess over it. All those things drain you of emotional energy that is supposed to be going to your partner and families.
It causes people to blame one another, leads to arguments, and is an actual physical barrier between people, not just a metaphorical one.
4. A healthier body and mind
A cluttered house can have negative impacts on both your physical and mental health. Obviously the dangers of a cluttered staircase speak for themselves. The finer details don’t really bear mentioning. And during a fire or other emergency, a cluttered house can be a serious hazard.
But the issues that clutter create go beyond simple accidents, such as falling down stairs. Physical ailments such as anxiety, high blood pressure, and even allergies can be traced to excess clutter. And some experts even link obesity and poor eating habits to excess clutter.
Sound far-fetched? Maybe. And those may be extreme cases, where "a clutter problem" really means severe hoarding, but don't dismiss the ideas completely. Have you ever been in the middle of a move and your order a pizza because the kitchen is too messy and disorganized to worry about cooking something proper? Yeah, we have too. Have you gotten takeout the day after hosting a large gathering because you hadn't quite been able to get the kitchen in order yet? We have too. When this becomes a habit, the link between clutter and unhealthy eating becomes a little easier to believe.
5. More money in your pocket
People are often surprised at the amount of money they can save simply by tidying up their lives. This advantage is often unexpected, and you may have likely not considered it either.
“How can decluttering my house save me money?” You are likely asking yourself.
Think about it. How many times have you had to buy something because you either couldn’t find it or thought you were out of it, only to stumble across it later? Fairly often, if you’re anything like most people. Tape? Stamps? Envelopes? Spices or seasonings? These small items add up. And pile up, too.
Knowing where things are isn’t the only way decluttering saves you money. The tidier your home is, the less likely you are to continue to buy items that you don’t really need. You don’t lose things like you once did, and you actually become less impulsive of a shopper.
Not to mention Americans spent over $27 billion on storage fees during 2014. With an average storage space costing around $100 per month, that is an extra monthly bill that is more than likely unnecessary.
Plenty of places will pay good money for your unused items, too. Consignment shops are still popular, but online marketplaces are also getting into resale business. Sites like Thredup, Swap, and Tradesy are excellent ways to trim down your closet, and Amazon is still hard to beat when it comes to selling books, electronics, dvds, and video games.