Health Advocate Blog

The benefits of paring down

It’s very easy to form a strong attachment to our things – from the shirt we wore to a special event years ago to knickknacks collected on vacations to our favorite frying pan for Sunday breakfasts, these are the items that somehow help define who we are.

However, we also tend to accumulate a lot of “stuff” that doesn’t hold as much value. Think about the box of junk that you’ve moved from house to house but still haven’t unpacked. Or the old, expired spices that somehow seem to multiply in the pack of the pantry. Unfortunately, these items tend to take up a lot of space in our homes, and they can also lead to stress and anxiety.

You may have heard about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which has quickly become a movement to help people organize and declutter their homes and their lives. Kondo’s method focuses on only keeping the things that “spark joy” in your life. While you may not be ready to completely dive in and minimize all your belongings, there are some benefits to considering the value of the things that take up space and time in your day-to-day life:

  • Less stress. When we have excess clutter hanging around us, we are often more stressed. Has there ever been a time you’ve gone nuts trying to find something important because it was buried under a pile of junk?
  • Increased productivity. Cluttered surroundings can lead to a cluttered mind. It can be much easier to focus on the task at hand when you’re not distracted by a messy room.
  • More time. The more things we have around us, the more we have to clean! If you only had to dust five things on a shelf versus 20, you’ll start to accumulate more free time to do the things you’d rather be doing, like spending time with friends and family.
  • More money! When you’re not spending your money on things you don’t really need or want, you can put those funds toward a meaningful experience that will have a much longer lasting impact than a new shirt or pair of shoes.
  • More space. If your clutter is taking up valuable space in your home, you don’t have room to do the things you might like to do, such as working out in your living room!
  • Improved health and wellness. One study even shows a tidy workspace can lead to healthier eating choices.

For tips on how to get started paring down the excess stuff in your home, check out these resources:

By taking a little bit of time each day or week to sort, donate or get rid of items that are no longer of use to you, you may find you can breathe a little easier.

For Health Advocate Members

If you are a Health Advocate member with access to the EAP+Work/Life Program, a Work/Life specialist can help you find resources in your area that may support your decluttering efforts, such as organizing services and places you can donate items you no longer need.