With spring upon us, it’s fitting to talk about what the season symbolizes. For many of us, it signifies a new beginning, a fresh start, a time to detox. Not only can we detox our bodies and minds, but also our homes. When we talk about detoxing our homes, it’s with the intention of creating a more inviting space in which to work, be creative, or simply enjoy. When the space is comfortable, we’re encouraged to spend time there and use it to its full potential.
Detoxing your home can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall well-being. I’m sure we can all think of a time when we went into our kitchens, looked around at the clutter or mess, and decided not to cook because of the overwhelming chaos. When our homes are out of order and chaotic, we often feel the same. It can lead us to feel unsafe or uneasy, which often leads to increased anxiety or distress.
These feelings can make it hard to get started on a project or housework because the state of your home is weighing on you. While detoxing your home can feel like a daunting task, my advice to you is to start small and make sure the project is manageable and achievable. That way, any time is a good time to detoxify your home.
First, think about the amount of time you have available. No time is too little—the expectations just have to match. If you have only a limited amount of time, pick a small area of your home; for example, your coat closet. If you need to break it down even further, pick one area of the closet—perhaps just the shoes or the coats. If you do have the time to dedicate to the entire closet, take everything out, and if not, just remove the items of focus.
Second, think about your intentions with the space. Ask yourself: What do you use the space for? What do you want to use the space for? Perhaps the coat closet contains not only your coats and shoes, but your vacuum and mop as well. Although you want to use the space for your coats and shoes, the space is currently being used for your cleaning materials. This shows you may not be using the space to its full potential.
The next step is to declutter the space. To do this, you’ll need to have categories for the items, such as keep, donate, throw out, or sell. Keep in mind that selling items does take additional time. I generally don’t choose to sell because I enjoy giving things to those who need them, and I don’t always have the extra time. This is a personal decision for you to make if you have time and patience to resell.
Begin sorting through the items and place them in their respective categories. Take a moment to think of the last time you wore or used the item. If you haven’t used it in the last year, you probably don’t need it. And even if you have used the item, you’ll want to ask yourself if you truly need it or if it’s worth the space it’s taking up in your home.
Also think about the quantity of the item. It’s not likely that any one person needs more than one rain jacket, unless perhaps you work outside or live in a particularly rainy climate. You also want to make sure you feel good about what you are purging from your closet. If you are unsure about an item, that’s ok—you can try putting it away for a while and revisiting that item in the future. Remember, everything you remove opens up more space in your home.
Once you’ve sorted through all the items, you should clean the space (sweep, dust, vacuum, etc.) and discard the items in your “throw away” category.
The final step is to organize the area and put everything back. You will do this by putting them back in the closet in a way that provides the most functionality, and you will relocate any items in your “keep” category that don’t belong. I caution you not to simply relocate everything—it’s necessary to remove items from the home that no longer serve you at this time in your life.
Don’t forget about your “sell” and “donate” categories. The closet will need to be maintained periodically, but the maintenance will now be a much shorter process.
Now that you have the method down, you can move throughout your home with the same approach. It will be a freeing experience—as you remove items and clutter from your home, you will start to feel lighter and less bogged down. As you detox your home and spaces, you make room for new beginnings and invite new ideas and creativity into your life. This will improve your quality of life and mental wellness.
I encourage everyone to give this a try. You can start today with your wallet, handbag, or car. Once you begin, you will find yourself eagerly awaiting to detox the next room or space. Enjoy the process and the result.
Cristina DeCrosta, LCSW, is a therapist at Mindful Transformations, a private psychotherapy practice in West Hartford, CT. At Mindful Transformations, Cristina‘s special interest is in perinatal mental health. Cristina uses a variety of therapy modalities including mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Mindful Transformations, 16 Brace Rd, West Hartford CT 06107. Contact Cristina at 860.308.2807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.