We all accumulate clutter. No matter how much we have or what it is, it's tricky to sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to toss. Decluttering is a pain to start with -- but when combined with the physical and mental challenges of getting older, it can become a task that feels nearly insurmountable.
It's time to help yourself or your loved one bust that clutter. Follow these simple tips to turn the tide of mess in your own home, or someone else's.
Decluttering is good for your mental and emotional well-being. It makes people happy when they can spend time in places that are clean and clutter-free. Plus, while the actual process of decluttering can cause stress and discomfort, many people report feeling relief after it's done.
For older adults, decluttering can also be a safety issue. Excessive clutter can increase the risk of serious falls, because there are more things to trip over.
Downsizing can also be the first step toward moving into a smaller space that's easier to maintain and safer – for example, moving from a multi-story to a single-story home can be a life-saver.
"Does It Spark Joy?"
That's the question Marie Kondo, star of the popular Netflix series Tidying Up, asks her clients about individual items in their home. That line's become a bit of a cliche, but it's still a useful way of thinking about clutter.
Sometimes, a person's clutter doesn't spark any feelings at all, and in these cases it can usually be safely discarded.
But often, too many of the items people accumulate leave them feeling guilty or sad. Maybe they keep these objects around out of a feeling of obligation, such as their lengthy personal history with an item, or the knowledge that it cost a lot. These feelings can cause you to keep around plenty of things you'd be better off without, which aren't actually contributing positively to your life.
Keep in mind, though, that while this is great advice for you personally, you shouldn't make decluttering decisions for your loved ones based on how you feel. You can, however, use this advice to guide them through the process and help them make decisions.
Remember the Donation Option
For many people, one of the most upsetting things about decluttering is the fear that they're being wasteful. They may worry about the environment, or that it's wrong to put something in a landfill when it could go to someone who needs it.
These worries aren't unreasonable. Thankfully, there are plenty of thrift stores that are eager for your items or those of your loved one. They'll sell the item to someone who genuinely loves it, for a good cause. This should alleviate some of the guilt of throwing things out. Just be sure you don't stall out and avoid donating those items to the thrift shop.
Decluttering takes time and energy, and many people find it stressful. But by taking the time to reasonably consider what individual items add to your life (or your loved one's), and donating any items someone else may want, you can get clutter under control.