Marie Kondo and De-cluttering as an Act Of Self Care

The old saying goes that a “cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind” and the same could be said of our houses. Sometimes we just let the “stuff” build up – keeping a magazine because there’s one article in there you know you will read one day or clothes that don’t quite fit just in case they fit you again.

Why Should I De-clutter?

The impact that all that extra stuff can have on your mind is not something we always consider. However, clutter can make it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally. In the back of our mind, even if we’re not fully aware of it, this disorganisation reminds us that our work isn’t done. At its worst, it can leave people overwhelmed, depressed or anxious. Even the messiest of us can get that satisfied feeling when you manage to get on top of the cleaning and relax in a clean and tidy room.

As well as the toll on our mind, having things organised gives us the freedom to start new projects without worrying about what we have to clean up first. It also decreases wasted time looking for keys. It helps us keep track of what we have in the house, which means we avoid buying food that we already have in the back of the cupboard or buying another umbrella because we cant find the one we have.

The Japanese Art Of Tidying

Marie Kondo is an organising consultant who’s Netflix series “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” has recently become a hit. Her book, Spark Joy, came out in 2017, but it is her Netflix series that has shot her to fame and inspired many to clear out the crap! Despite everyone embracing the de-clutter craze, she did cause controversy amongst book lovers when she suggested people get rid of books they have already read or won’t read again. Twitter was quickly in an uproar over the suggestion, with many of us holding on to entire libraries of books!

Feeling Sentimental

Even those of us that are good at clearing out the clutter, its the sentimental stuff that’s the most difficult. Whether its old cards, gifts or weird sculptures your kids made when they were 5, we put a lot of stock in these items and feel like it would be wrong to throw them away. We feel like losing them means we will lose the memories and legacy that go with them. But Marie Kondo’s ethos is that the truly precious memories will never vanish, even if you discard the items you associate with them.

What Is Important To You?

Marie’s show centres around asking people ‘Does this Spark Joy?’ Her book tells people to “hold each item in your hands as close to your heart as possible” and listen to how your body responds. When it sparks joy you should feel a “thrill running through your body as if your body is somehow slowly rising up to meet the item, embracing it even”

This may seem all very spiritual for a bit of tidying, but the important thing to take from it is the to only keep things that really make you happy. If you are keeping something because you feel like you have to or because you might need it one day, it’s probably not worth cluttering up your house with.

Clearing Out Your Closet

The ‘sparks joy’ idea works well when it comes to going through your clothes. We have all made a quick purchase only to find that every time we put it on and look in the mirror we’re not quite sure whether the colour is right or that it is quite the right cut for our bodies. Every time it goes back into the wardrobe and the whole dance starts again.

We keep items like this that in reality, you will never wear just because we spent money on them or feel like you haven’t got the wear out of it to warrant throwing it out. So it’s good practice to ask yourself when you put your clothes on – does this item make me happy? Do I feel good in this? If the answer is no, or ambiguous, it may be time to ditch it. Take it to a charity shop, after all, it might ‘spark joy’ in someone else who buys it!

Make Use of the Sentimental Things

There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep sentimental items. Letters from a loved one, your child’s first baby grow, the artwork they did when they were small – all these things are important and special. Instead of just having a box that you look at every few years, Marie Kondo’s approach is to display them so that they give you pleasure every day, whether it’s framing them or finding creative ways to put them on display. Some people get someone to make a quilt out of their kid’s baby clothes! It won’t be possible with all items, and we can’t keep everything, but some mementos and memories are worth holding on to and making it a feature.

Start Small

Don’t think about reorganising the whole house – you are setting yourself up to fail! Set little goals, like going through the kitchen cupboards one day, or focusing on your wardrobe. These small wins keep you motivated to sort! Marie Kondo says you should focus on category’s rather than rooms:

“Your tidying should be in this order: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and then – and only then – will you be ready for your sentimental items.”

Seem like Too Much?

If you’re reading this feeling like you just can be bothered, remember that you don’t need to be an organised person to de-clutter and organise your house. In this world where we often have no control over anything, it gives you the opportunity to create an ordered tranquil space to live in. Having that sense of a little control over our world can be all the self-care you need!


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