Clutter: “a large amount of things that are not arranged in a neat or orderly way; a crowded or disordered collection of things”.
I’m sure each and every one of us has a tale to tell about clutter. With the advent of mass consumerism; the amount we purchase, consume, and ultimately store (often out of sight) has increased drastically.
It seems that we have developed an obsession with material possessions or “things”, which, on the whole, don’t serve us at all. Perhaps at the time of purchase, we experienced that instant gratification. But very rarely, if at all, is that gratification sustaining.
The downside of this is that we find ourselves cluttering up our environment and our homes. Tied to this is a host of other problems. In the words of Bustle contributor, Carolyn Steber:Advertising
“Anyone with an overflowing closet or totally stuffed basement can attest to the stress brought on by piles of junk. That’s because not only is it annoying to look at, but it can dredge up so many different emotions”
Steber goes on to say that when she looks at her messy closet she feels stressed about the lack of organization, guilty about the fact that she doesn’t wear half of what she owns, and confused as to what style she is going for.
According to Jennifer Baumgartner Psy.D., in Psychology Today, clutter can also have an immense psychological effect.
“Clutter is not only a container for our memories but can be a distractor for tackling deeper issues.”
All the junk we have is inextricably linked to other problems; it can hold us back from getting stuff done. Recognizing the fact that it’s time to declutter is easy, but actually getting it done is a whole other feat. It can be an absolute chore. What follows, however, is a host of benefits. Here are four, according to science:
Declutter for a brighter future
An item can be classified as clutter, not in terms of how it looks, but how it makes you feel. All the things we own are invariably attached to memories we have. When we look at them we often get a sense of nostalgia. Sometimes these memories are good memories, and this is okay.
But often our possessions are associated with bad memories. Holding on to such possessions only serve as a negative reminder of the past. It does not serve us at all; only holds us back from moving forward with our lives and creating a new, brighter future. Declutter to help you let go of the past.
Declutter for lower stress and a peaceful mind
A recent study from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) found that clutter has a deep-seated effect on our mood and self-esteem.Advertising
Notably, anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found “A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female homeowners and a high density of household objects.” Men didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all. Women were found to become more anxious as the dishes piled up in the sink.
The research suggests that through decluttering we can reduce stress, become less anxious, and ultimately be more at peace.
Declutter for increased productivity
Clutter has a profound impact on our brains. In a study conducted by Neuroscientists at Princeton University, researchers explain that the reasoning for this is that physical clutter in our environment competes for our attention, which negatively affects performance and induces stress.
Through decluttering then there is less vying for our attention, our information processing is improved and we can focus better. Naturally, what follows is improved productivity.Advertising
Declutter for improved sleep
A recent study conducted by Pamela Thacher of St. Lawrence University suggests that clutter and sleep loss are linked. More specifically, a link was found between hoarding objects and bad sleep quality. The study asked participants about their hoarding, sleeping, and clutter and rated them on a “Clutter and Hoarding Rating Scale”. Of the 198 participants, 83 who were at risk of hoarding disorder suffered from sleep latency.
Hoarding disorder is a disorder where people accumulate items, that they struggle to get rid of, which have little or no value to them. Sleep latency is the length of time it takes from lying down to sleep until sleep onset.
Pamela Thacher mentions that hoarders already have problems with decision making and cognitive control (set of cognitive processes such as reasoning, problem-solving, etc). Lack of sleep is known to compromise cognition. It then follows that any existing risk for cognitive dysfunction, depression, and stress may increase with lack of sleep.
Declutter for an improved life
There is a host of problems associated with clutter, from increased stress levels to other psychological effects. Decluttering can be a chore, particularly as we often ascribe value to things based on associated memories. However, if we declutter what follows is a host of benefits, from greater well-being, improved productivity, reduced stress, and a peaceful mind. Ultimately, we improve our lives.Advertising
Last Updated on June 19, 2019
How to Invest in Yourself: 3 Valuable Ways to Change Your Life
Investing in yourself may be the most profitable investment you ever make. It yields not only future returns, but often a current pay-off as well.
The surest way to achieve a better quality life, to be successful, productive, and satisfied is to place a priority on investing in both personal and professional growth. The effort you put into consistently investing in yourself plays a large role in determining the quality of your life now and in the future.
1. Develop Your Skills
Improving your skills doesn’t always mean investing in higher education, though that’s surely an option, and perhaps a necessary one depending upon your career field. Investing in your knowledge and skills can take many forms.
In addition, expanding your level of knowledge and skill isn’t limited to the business arena and doesn’t necessarily need to be formal. There are many “skill investment” avenues.
- Advance your education – extra classes, advanced degrees, relevant certifications, are all valuable investments. Take classes, either in person or online. (Lifehack also offers this Masterclass that helps you to break free from limitations.)
- Utilize available training – enroll in workshops, attend conferences or participate in webinars.
- Expand your knowledge – there’s a lot of information available on nearly any subject imaginable. Read books, articles, white papers, anything related to the talent or skill you want to work on.
- Keep current – stay abreast of the latest trends or advancements. Subscribe to publications, read blogs of experts, and follow the latest news.
2. Explore Your Creative Side
There is a fountain of creativity within most of us that has never been tapped or certainly hasn’t been used to its highest potential. We may need to unearth, and hone our individual creativity.
Creativity, in any form, helps us to grow personally and professionally, to view problems and solutions in different ways and to utilize other parts of our mind that may have been previously untapped. It’s important to keep in mind that creativity has many faces. It’s far broader than being a painter or sculptor; it’s also about trying new things.
- Learn a new language – take a class or use language training software.
- Try gourmet cooking – enroll in a formal class, by a new cookbook, or ask someone you know who enjoys cooking in a different way.
- Write something – a book, short stories, poetry, anything.
- Explore the outside world – try gardening, bird watching, or landscape photography.
- Enjoy music – play an instrument, learn a new one or join a music group of some kind.
- Create something tangible – paint, sculpt, make pottery, make jewelry or design your own clothes.
Choose some form of activity that you have never tried, haven’t practiced in years, or have never explored fully.
3. Nurture Your Mind and Body
Nurturing both your mind and body allows you to have more to give now and in the future — more energy, more knowledge, more compassion, more ideas, greater strength, physical and mental endurance.
Expand your mind. Learning new things and keeping your mind active even in simple ways helps to grow and maintain your mental ability.
- Read – anything and everything.
- Explore culture – attend performances, listen to different style of music, travel, or join an organization or group comprised of people from different backgrounds.
- Open your mind – engage in conversations with those who disagree with you. Look at an argument and try to make a case for the opposing point of view.
- Keep your mind active – play word games, (yes, even Words with Friends counts,) board games that include strategy, or try using your brain to perform simple calculations rather than relying on a calculator.
Care for your body. Your body is like a well-oiled machine. If you care for it in the way that you might maintain an expensive car, it will perform marvelously and last for a very long time. Remember the basics:
- Give it high quality fuel – meaning to make healthy food choices as often as possible. What you eat does play a large role in your energy and ability to perform. You truly are what you eat.
- Don’t push it too hard – meaning to rest and relax often, slow down and don’t overload your system. Also, don’t shift gears too quickly; it causes stress and damage to “your machine,” A.K.A. your body.
- Get regular and necessary maintenance – meaning to go to the doctor when you’re sick – don’t put it off until you totally break down. Better yet, use preventative maintenance; get check-ups, take appropriate vitamins and pay attention to irregular or erratic behavior.
- Polish the exterior – meaning to take care of the outside too. Many people dismiss this as frivolous and self-indulgent, but it’s not as long as you don’t go overboard. We’re not talking about facelifts and Botox, we’re talking about getting a fabulous haircut, and wearing clothes that make you feel confident and attractive.
The Bottom Line
Investing in yourself truly makes a difference in your life, your well-being, and your ability to thrive and perform to the best of your ability. The extent to which you invest in yourself, mind and body, not only shapes the way you interact with the outside world, it often reflects the opinion you have of yourself.
Your future is in large part determined by your willingness and ability to invest in yourself now.
More About Investing in Yourself
- What Is Self Awareness (And How to Increase Yours to Succeed in Life)
- 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself
- 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More
- 10 Ways to Find Learning Motivation (Even After You’ve Graduated)
Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com