The Emotional Benefits of Decluttering

By amandaalexander | Work & Life Balance

In my own experience of being an odd combination of half hoarder half ruthless declutterer, I find that the biggest obstacles to decluttering for me are:

* Not knowing what to do with it
* Not having time to deal with it
* Addressing the difficult emotions surrounding it

I’m on a never-ending journey of discovery with decluttering my life as I have experienced the benefits over and over again.

After decluttering…

  • New opportunities and ideas emerge
  • I have more energy – I feel lighter
  • Money comes into my life unexpectedly! Seriously!
  • I experience a deep feeling of satisfaction
  • I feel calmer
  • I feel more “in the present” when I’m in surroundings that are clear of clutter
  • I feel jolly pleased with  myself!

When I have decluttered a kitchen cupboard for example, I keep going back to it, opening it and looking at it, just for the sheer sense of satisfaction! I bet I’m not the only one!

I recently addressed my lingerie drawers with utter ruthlessness – I reduced my “smalls drawers” by 50% I even applied the advice of Marie Kondo, author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” and rolled all my socks and knickers! Yes.. rolled! They are now all snugly tucked into old shoe boxes!

When I first read about this rolling technique, I thought it was a bit extreme, but I can tell you that my smalls drawer has stayed in this rolled up rather than piled up state ever since – and I love it, because I no longer get that horrible little stressful frisson when I can’t find the right thing!

Where does your life need decluttering

Look around you now.. what needs decluttering? Which clutter areas come to mind? It might be clutter in your house or your office; it might be clutter on the hard drive of your computer? It might even be a cluttered mind.

Clutter comes in all shapes and forms – physical, virtual, mental.

What has stopped you from decluttering?

Heather Bestel, founder of , delivered a brilliant Masterclass recently for my Academy for Talented Women members. The class was called: “The Emotional Benefits of Decluttering”

You might think that you haven’t dealt with your clutter because of lack of time, but Heather explained to us that our emotional attachment presents the bigger obstacle for most people.

The Emotional Challenges of Decluttering

Heather shared some examples of the emotional challenges associated with clutter..

  • Getting rid of clothes that no longer fit means we have to accept the shape we are now.
  • Getting rid of a deceased loved one’s possessions means we have to come to terms with our loss and grief.
  • Getting rid of sentimental treasures after a divorce means coming to terms with the end of the relationship and the potential fear of the process of moving on.
  • Getting rid of a wedding present you don’t like means dealing with a sense of guilt.
  • Getting rid of an expensive item you never use means accepting
    that you made a poor decision when you bought it.

Heather recommends being gentle and kind to yourself and starting with baby steps. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you, being aware that underneath the emotion, you have a desire to be free.

Dealing with clutter can raise many emotions from our past: You may feel you are betraying someone you once loved by getting rid of something. You may feel irresponsible if you were frequently told not to waste as a child. You may not feel as if you deserve a beautiful space if you have suffered abuse in your past.

Heather reminded us that healing painful emotions comes from recognising and accepting those feelings, whatever they are.

3 Key Words to Remember for Dealing with Emotions when Decluttering

There are 3 key words that will help you to work through the emotions of decluttering:

  1. Trust
    Trust yourself that you can make good choices for your future
  2. Permission
    Give yourself permission to get rid of the things you have always disliked or which annoy, irritate or upset you when you see them.
  3. Space
    Give yourself space to feel free and create your own energising and nurturing space.

5 Top Tips for Decluttering this Spring

Here are 5 tips to help you get clutter free this spring:

  1. Choose 5 areas in your life that you will address within the next month. Make each area small – chunk down rather than chunk up, so think “top kitchen drawer” rather than “kitchen”!
  2. Do you have a “messy drawer”? You know the one, where everything goes that you don’t know what to do with? Get it all out. Make a decision on every single thing. Keep or don’t keep.
  3. Set a percentage reduction target. This has worked so well for me for my clothes and the boys’ clothes. When we set ourselves a specific target, it ignites our sense of competition with ourselves. Try to beat it!  I set a target of reducing by 30% and have far exceeded that.
  4. Heather says we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. To identify which clothes are just taking up space, here’s a neat trick: Turn the hangers around in your wardrobe so the open end is facing you. Each time you wear something, turn the hanger back round so the curve is facing you. After a year, throw out the clothes whose hangers have not been turned around!
  5. Start thinking in processes for the things in your home. This is really useful for me. I ask myself questions like this: “Where does this belong?” “How do I deal with this thing? Once I’ve used it, where does it go?” and “What is my process for dealing with this?” Heather recommends having a one touch policy for paperwork. I haven’t achieved that yet, but I’m working on it!

If you’d like to access to the full Masterclass on The Emotional Benefits of Decluttering with Heather Bestel right now,  click here. You’ll be taken to the Academy page, where you find out more about The Academy. Once you join, you’ll have instant access to Heather’s masterclass as well as dozens of others. Latest content in The Academy includes “Identifying the roles you play”, “Negotiating skills for women” and “Identifying your values for your career”.

Heather is running the Spring Clean Challenge this month in her online membership club for women, . I’ve been a member of the Happiness Garden since its inception and I highly recommend it! to find out more.


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