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Why decluttering is good for your mental health! 21st November, 2016

Image: Aleksandra Kovac/Stocksy United

I read with some curiosity, a piece of American research that has shown a link between 'depression' and household clutter!

Resaerchers at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) have explored and shown that “clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem.”

Clutter apparently ‘makes us feel bad’ and affects women more than men!   

Of course, a study of only 32 respondents is insufficient to be reliable and meaningful or scientific however, as a Counsellor & Psychotherapist, I felt there may be something in this.

Accumulation of clutter, stuff, mess etc. can be metaphoric for an accumulation of ‘emotional’ stuckness and chaos.  Holding onto clutter can be an unconscious physical way of manifesting how we feel on the inside.  Or put another way, it’s a way of communicating our emotional feelings without words with ‘hoarders’ on the extreme end of the spectrum. 

So how can counselling help?  Well, counselling can help a client to make sense of what is going on and the meaning of the chaos (or need for control and extreme tidiness at the other extreme) and how this relates to their life experience.  With increased self-awareness, this paves the way for change. 

So, in the spirit of getting our house in order and feeling good as we hurtle rapidly towards the end of the year, my ‘Top Tips’ for decluttering include:-

  • Declutter little and often.  For example, tackle that wardrobe today or this week and then the linen cupboard or pile of books the next day/week and so on, instead of waiting months or even years.  Make a plan.  
  • Rather than tackle an enormous pile of washing…do a white wash one day, colours the next day, hand-wash the day after and so on.  Find a system and then follow that.
  • Invest in decent storage where you can manage to find things more easily as well as look good.
  • Reward yourself with something you want when you have reached your decluttering goal.  That could be a cup of tea after one small decluttering phase or buying that new handbag you have had your eye on once you have made space in the wardrobe.  Make the reward fit the effort you have made. 

And if you need help with ‘decluttering’ your emotions, then visit my website: and find out more about how I can help you, what to expect from counselling and how to get in touch.  I promise you listening ears, empathetic advice and total confidentiality!

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