I organized, threw crap away and my self-care meter shot up 20%
So let me get straight to the point on this. After our family vacay to Florida, my husband tasked himself with the all-important job of cleaning the backyard.
He managed to give the yard a much-needed pick-me-up clearing furniture scraps and other miscellaneous items. Our outdoor living space immediately became more inviting.
By Sunday, apparently still on a high from his yard accomplishments, hub took his efforts to the basement. Armed with his wireless headphones, his Pandora playlist, and the last few hours of his vacation time, he was on a mission (one in which I did not receive a memo).
I need to be in the mood to declutter
Now let me just interject here to say that none of this was on my post-vacation weekend To Do List. I was more concerned with getting all the suitcases unpacked, laundry washed, clothes put away, and bathrooms disinfected. However, I was lured into basement mayhem when I stepped downstairs to ask a quick question.
Bins and boxes were all over the place which ultimately led to the inevitable question “so what do you want to do with this stuff?”
Ugh! This is not on my list.
Although I may not have spoken the words, hub read them all over my face. “I know you aren’t dealing with this right now but I just want to know if you want me to move the Christmas stuff to the back of the closet or not?”
Darn it! Now I gotta look in the back of the closet to see what makes sense to go back there. But first I need to look in these bins to see what I’m dealing with.
My internal dialogue: Wow, look at these size 2 jeans. Wow, those were my size 2 jeans. What’s this – the summer bin? Okay, well let’s not throw this stuff out just yet. I mean, I’m not getting into those this summer so we can just move these boxes to the back. No need for them to be in the front staring me in my face.
And so, what originated as a quick question turned into 30 minutes of negotiations, trips down memory lane, and the necessary task of letting go.
By the time it was all said and done, we’d discarded a couple of beat up sports bags, broken toys, a small bag of clothes regaining several feet of space in our basement closet. Not only did it look organized and less cluttered but it also felt like an accomplishment.
It felt good.
Like, “high” good.
I gave my husband a hi-five, “Good job. We should do this once every other week.”
I walked into my basement office, looked around assessing the clutter factor and walked out.
I must have walked into the decluttered closet three more times before I went upstairs, happy with the work we/he accomplished. The releasing and letting go of old things had done something amazing to help clear my mind.
My friend has been holding out
I thought of my organizational guru friend Janelle Williams who does this stuff for a living.
“Okay is that why she loves doing this stuff? Is she getting some weird high from transforming people’s spaces?”
She has to love it because I actually hate it. Until I actually do it. And then I love how much lighter my space looks and feels. I want all the spaces in my house to look this way. Know what I mean? The way your house glistens and glows after you’ve had it cleaned without personally lifting a finger?
If I could just hold on to that feeling, I could tackle all of my spaces until I have fully Mari Kondo’d my life. Kidding. I don’t think I’ll go that far although I’m not quite sure how far that is as I’ve never watched her show – I’ve just heard the stories.
But what I do know – the point of this post- is that throwing stuff away made me feel mentally better.
Organization = Self-care?
I felt energized, excited and a weird sense of clarity. It was all so odd that I needed to research why (yes, I’m weird like that. Chalk it up to Stanford. I need empirical evidence to support my thoughts. This tickles my therapist for some reason).
What I found in a 2011 Princeton University study was that “attentional modulation was greatest when neural competition was little influenced by bottom-up mechanisms and smallest when competition was strongly influenced by bottom-up mechanisms” In layman’s terms: clutter can make it more difficult for us to focus on a particular task because our eyes get overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, which makes it more difficult for us to pay attention and complete tasks efficiently.
Decluttering can help us mentally
In another study, this one from the 2010 scientific journal Personality and Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that women with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
I get that!!! Really. It’s why I get so annoyed when my guys leave dishes all over the counters and in the sink. I feel stressed when I wake up to a messy kitchen. I don’t articulate it with nice words but that’s what I’m feeling.
On the flip side, I felt relaxed when we were done straightening up that basement. Like a weird euphoria.
Not only did I feel euphoric but I also felt a spike in my libido. I don’t know, Friends there’s something about seeing my husband clean that gets me excited. Add that to the fact that he decluttered one of our spaces and stop the presses, hold all calls, kids go to bed.
Listen…if improved attention, decreased stress, and an increase in libido aren’t self-care, I don’t know what is. That’s three of the four tenants of self-care: mental, emotional, and physical. By the time it’s all said and done a come to Jesus moment is bound to happen. There goes your spiritual self-care.
If organizing my home with my husband always delivers on my self-care like this, we’ll have the most orderly homes this side of Marie Kondo. Once you figure out your own self-care recipe, make sure you keep cooking it!