Self-Care Challenge (Day 13): Tidying Up

nicely folded clothes in a dresser drawer

On day 13 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored the so-called life-changing magic of tidying up. (FYI – It was pretty life-changing.)

I still don’t talk to my clothes, but Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* , really did change the way I live.

Decluttering can be therapeutic because it allows us to focus on more important things.

Before this book, my attempts at organizing usually resulted in buying a bunch of storage containers, cramming random things into them, and then shoving everything back into a drawer (or the dark hole in my closet). Instead of focusing on what I wanted to keep – what I truly cherished – my focus was on what I should get rid of. And parting with things is always more difficult than adding things.

The heart of Kondo’s approach is this: hold each of your possessions in your hand and answer the simple question, “Does it spark joy?”

When I first read the book several months back, I went on a tirade and touched pretty much everything I own, asking that very question. It helped me realize that holding onto so many unnecessary items was a burden. Cleaning around them, pushing them to the side to get to other things, and moving them across the country seems a bit silly in hindsight.

Why do we hold onto these things in the first place? Kondo feels there are only two reasons: an attachment to our past or a fear of our future.

In the book, she describes tidying as an “act of restoring balance,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. Over time, we evolve as individuals and our possessions reflect our changing style and interests. Letting go of unneeded or unwanted items is much easier when we acknowledge they have served their purpose – and, for me at least, knowing they are being passed on to someone who wants or needs certainly helps.

I’ve also discovered that tidying isn’t just a one-time project; it’s a daily routine, like brushing your teeth.

Tidying falls under the environmental dimension of health because when we feel calm and balanced, we’re more productive. Clutter can be distracting. In fact, some experts  believe the simple act of tidying can help manage stress.

When we declutter our personal spaces, we also declutter our mind.

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