Well, it is finally official, something most of us have suspected for years. Scientists have proven that living in cluttered surroundings raises cortisol levels. Cortisol is a necessary hormone. However, when cortisol is elevated, it causes various ailments from suppressing the immune system, insomnia, headaches, and weight gain to loss of muscle mass, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure. It is thought that the stress itself of living with a lot of clutter raises our cortisol to unhealthy levels.
Now, what to do? Start in your clothes closet. An excellent way to sort through a large wardrobe is the turned around hanger method. Switch around all the hangers in your closet so the hanger hooks towards you. As you wear clothes, do laundry or dry clean, return the items to the closet hanging normally. By the end of your appointed time, six months to one year, depending on your climate, anything hanging backward should be donated. It does take some time, but it is very efficient and leaves out all the guesswork.
Drawers are easier. We tend to wear the same sweaters and shirts, so you can usually remove the bottom half contents of every drawer and donate. You can also use the dust method, which is easy and fast. Is there dust on the hanging clothes? Shoes? They are gone! It takes a while for clothes and shoes to gather dust, so if it has been that long, so long!
Our kitchen drawers also tend to be a massive tangle of every utensil known to man. Just how many spatulas do you need? How about those dull old knives or that serving spoon whose bowl keeps coming off? If you simply can’t bring yourself to go through and toss unnecessary items, use the box method. Put a box on the kitchen counter and literally dump in every utensil you own. Take out utensils and use them as you need. After a month, you should maybe have used ¼ to ⅓the contents of the box. Go through what’s left. Keep the few items you use for holidays or a special recipe. Donate the rest.
You can do the same in your pantry or kitchen cabinets. Move everything to one side or use certain cabinets. As you use items, wash and put them in the new keep cabinet. Again, donate what you haven’t used in a month or two.
That’s just a few ideas for getting rid of some of your excess stuff. Do a room at a time. Sure, it will take some time, but when you are done, you will feel a sense of freedom. Your possessions no longer have control over you, but you have control over them. Any more de-cluttering ideas?
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO