Decluttering and Downsizing for Better Mental Health

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 15, 2019
Decluttering and Downsizing for Better Mental Health
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Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo has made a lot of headlines. Her commitment to decluttering and downsizing has caught the attention of many people who are overwhelmed with life. Kondo’s approach is to eliminate items in your house that don’t spark joy.

While you may not want to go to such extreme lengths, decluttering can simplify your life. Mental health experts also say getting rid of unwanted and unneeded items around your home is energizing and uplifting.

A few more health benefits of decluttering include:

  • lower risk for experiencing a fall
  • reduced anxiety and stress
  • improved relaxation and sleep
  • reduced dust and allergens in the home.

If you are an older adult looking to move to a condominium or a senior living community in the months or years ahead, taking steps to declutter now will make the move go more smoothly.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Taming the Clutter in Your Life

1.    Manage the paper trail: Paper accounts for a lot of the clutter in our lives. If you can cut back on paper, you go a long way toward tidying up. For many families, junk mail is part of it. You can reduce your unwanted mail by placing yourself on the National Do Not Mail List. That helps eliminate unsolicited advertising mailers. Also make a point of going through your mail daily. File bills and other items you need to act on and dispose of the rest.

2.    Purge the closets: If you’ve lived in your home for many years without cleaning out the closets, you may be surprised at how much “stuff” has accumulated. To get started, grab a few boxes and garbage bags. Apply the 12-month rule to each item. If you haven’t worn or used it in the last year, ask yourself if you really need it.

Place unneeded items in boxes to donate to charity. Work your way through every room in the house. One final tip is to drop donation boxes off as you go. Doing so prevents any items from working their way back into your closet. Apply the same approach to everything stored in the attic and basement.

3.    Clear out the kitchen cabinets: Kitchens are another room that tend to accumulate clutter. Specialty gadgets, expired spices, and mismatched plasticware can often be scaled back or disposed of. Take time to go cabinet by cabinet and drawer by drawer to get rid of items you no longer need.

4.    Downsize holiday decorations: Holiday décor is another area where items accumulate quickly. We often purchase new without getting rid of the old. It’s easiest to do this right after the holiday. If you have decorations you didn’t use, pack them up to donate. Local shelters and preschools are two organizations that might be interested in the items you no longer use.

5.    Clean out the garage: Homeowners often use the garage as a catchall for things they don’t use often but aren’t ready to part with. Before long, it can be hard to even get the car in the garage. Commit to spending a few weekends cleaning out the garage this spring and early summer.

By decluttering your home at your own pace, you save yourself the stress and anxiety older adults sometimes experience when it’s time to sell their home.

Once you have your house decluttered and you get closer to moving, it’s good to stage the home to increase its appeal to prospective buyers. Our article, “Staging Tips to Prepare a House for Sale,” offers suggestions that will help you earn top dollar for your house.

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