I like to watch the TV show "Hoarders" as a way to inspire myself to attack my home clutter. While the show itself doesn't provide actionable tips for stress relief, I know that when my home is organized, I feel better overall. Even so sometimes I just need that little extra push to dive into some home decluttering. And one episode of "Hoarders" is usually all it takes.
Turns out that I'm not alone in feeling stressed out from looking at a mess. Researchers at UCLA's Center on the Everyday Lives of Families say Americans' preoccupation with possessions has created a "clutter culture," and that the chaos created by having so much stuff is a leading cause of stress.
Subjects in a five-year study used words like "mess," "not fun" and "very chaotic" to describe their homes. In my mind mess and stress may rhyme but they also go hand in hand.
"It's no wonder that so many people view annual spring cleaning as cathartic and a stress reliever," says Lorie Marrero, Certified Professional Organizer, author of the best-selling book The Clutter Diet and a spokesperson for Goodwill's Donate Movement. "From toys and trinkets to clothing and shoes, we tend to accumulate more than we need. Clearing the clutter and chaos can lift your mood and keep you on track in other areas of your life."
Though the homes I see in "Hoarders" have clutter everywhere, experts say that for most Americans, clutter often finds its way to the closet first. One polls said that women own an average of 17 pairs of shoes yet only typically wear three of those pairs on a regular basis. More than 13 percent have more than 30 pairs (not including athletic shoes).
Got a cluttered closet? One of my tips for stress relief is that you should get in the regular habit of thinning your wardrobe. For example, twice a year I go through and look at everything from dresses to shoes and determine which items have been taking up space without ever being worn. So if I spy a dress I purchased in Spring 2012 and never wore, I seriously consider getting rid of it for Spring 2013.
My first plan of attack when decluttering my closet is to consign those items I haven't worn so I can bring in some extra cash. Whatever doesn't sell, I donate to good causes like Goodwill. Then I get a receipt for my "in kind" donation, and use that receipt for a charitable deduction on my income tax return.
Another tip that should help with stress relief? Recognizing that your cluttered home didn't get that way in a day, and it won't get fixed in a day either. I find that setting a timer for 15-minute increments is a great way to make small dents in whatever work I need to do around the house.
Home decluttering as a stress management technique and a way to make extra money—if you choose to consign your clothes like I do? Priceless.