There is an emotional burden to clutter and it has a profound effect on our mood and self-esteem. Researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families found:
- A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in homeowners with a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress.
- That families who want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pitching objects. They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.
And get this—although U.S. consumers bear only 3 percent of the world’s children, we buy 40 percent of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.
As a real estate agent, between showing and getting homes ready for sale, I have heard first hand comments of how overflowing closets and crowded basements and garages impact a person. I also know how daunting it can be to get rid of stuff in an effort to move on or clear out.
So how do you make change? Here’s a few suggestions:
- Start by filling a box with items you don’t love or use. As the weeks go on, you’ve now established an eye towards what can go, and you’ll find yourself adding to it.
- Then check your listserv for an upcoming community yard sale and put the loot you make towards a night out or a new grill to replace the one that’s out of commission.
- Donate to a charity. Many will pick up, such as A Wider Circle, for example.
- Give hand-me-downs to family or friends.
- And share or borrow from neighbors. We “all” don’t need step ladders, lawn spreaders, wheelbarrows and hedge trimmers.
Melinda Schnare is a real estate agent with RealLiving RLAH Real Estate