Back to school season is in full swing, fall is on the way, and for many, September marks the real “new year”.
Usually, around this time, the urge for a change is hard to avoid, whether it be changing your hair color, buying fresh new clothes, or setting out seasonal decorations.
If it still seems like something is missing, perhaps it is time for some larger and deeper personal shifts.
Especially during a season change, minds are racing and we forget to take time to focus on self-care because the kids need to be dropped off at soccer and the laundry needs to be done and you still do not know when anyone will have time to eat dinner.
As they say, “you cannot give from an empty cup”.
The lack of personal mental health and self-care stems from the people and things we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.
As we all know, this intense amount of stress takes a toll on overall health, leading to a number of health concerns, including headaches, high blood pressure, and a lowered immune system.
Taking a cue from the trees, let’s take a look at ten ways to shed the excess, declutter, and live a little simpler.
Invest in a White-Board Calendar
A calendar may seem pretty basic, but visually seeing the “plan” of the day is extremely helpful.
Whether you are living on your own or managing a larger family, white-board calendars are amazing tools to keep track of every one of your big to-dos.
Assign a different color to each person in your household, and write down the major events.
Place this calendar on the fridge or any central location.
Everyone will then know the schedule and be able to plan around what is already there.
Try to keep your schedule even, meaning that there will be as little overlapping as possible.
This method also helps to avoid accidental double-booking.
If you are looking for a more on-the-go option, set up a Google Calendar using the same guidelines.
You can share this calendar with everyone in the house and they will have access to it all day long.
Keeping yourself and your family organized in this way can be a major accomplishment.
Schedule a “Me” Day
Everyone deserves time off from responsibility.
Once a week, or at least a few times a month, schedule a day to relax and some time to yourself.
Many of us forget what relaxing is like, but when it comes to mental health, taking a day to unplug and enjoy doing nothing can make a huge difference.
This can be difficult for those who always feel like they have to be working or doing something.
In that case, try taking a walk at your favorite park.
You will be doing something healthy for your body with exercise and fresh air, while still keeping the stress level at a minimum.
During these breaks, turn off your cell phone for a few hours to enjoy some uninterrupted pampering for the ultimate “me” time.
Clean Out the Closet
Clean the closet, clear out the desk, and go through everything sitting on that coffee table.
This job may take several days but will make day-to-day living remarkably better.
Everyone has that area that stores junk.
The act of clearing out old clothes and throwing away decades-old paper is liberating.
The general rule of thumb – if you have not used it in over a year, get rid of it!
This project can end up being really fun. It is like giving areas of your home mini-makeovers.
Take a trip to buy some new storage bins and organizers and go to town.
The easier your items are to access and see, the less stressed your mind will be when you open that cabinet or drawer.
It even saves you time that you can spend enjoying that cup of coffee!
An add-on to cleaning out your desk is filing.
Your home office is just as important as your work office.
In fact, if your home office is a mess, you are much less likely to be motivated to do any work.
Once you have gotten rid of unnecessary paper, file what is left over.
Be specific with your files, labeling things like medical expenses, school papers, or important forms.
To take it to the next level, separate your folders by year for easy searching.
You can be as creative as you like, such as choosing color-coded folders or labeling everything with patterned washi tape.
Whatever you decide, make sure that the top of your desk is clear of clutter.
A clean workspace makes the best environment for getting work done and getting it done efficiently.
Cooking is fun, but there are definitely those days when the thought of prepping the food, cooking the food, and then cleaning up afterward quickly leads to busting out the take-out menus.
This can lead to some less than healthy eating habits that slow down not only your body but your mind.
Enter: meal prep. Pre-preparing meals is not only for those on the fitness scene.
In fact, it can be useful for anyone and everyone, especially if you have a busy schedule and allows you to make healthier choices.
Take a quick peruse on Pinterest and you’ll find hundreds of recipe ideas from simple fresh ingredients to dump-and-go crock pot recipes.
Set a meal-prep day during the week.
On this day you will do your shopping and most of your cooking.
If you have picky eaters in your home, pre-package their healthy snacks, and let them do the choosing.
A method like this helps to keep food organized and diminish the stress of figuring out what to eat.
It will now be ready to grab and go or only require a quick zap in the microwave or oven to heat it up, saving you tons of time for more important things – like relaxing!
Also, the Tupperware you have been hoarding will be thankful.
Stop Working 24-7
We live in an age where we can be connected to technology at all times.
It is great for catching up with family and friends but can be detrimental when it comes to working.
Imagine that you are at home eating dinner and you hear that email notification.
Immediately you shift to work mode, gobbling down the last of your meal and replying to your client who NEEDS a response at 8 PM.
Nobody should be expected to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Everyone needs time to be unplugged from work and it is a perfectly acceptable excuse to not respond to a work email until you are back at the office the following day.
Set a specific time for this to happen every day, ideally at least an hour before you plan to go to bed.
Even better, remove your work email from your phone entirely. Work is for office hours.
Minimize Your To-Do List
When we talk about decluttering, we are talking about the concept of less is more.
If you are struggling to get through your endless to-do list day in and day out, chances are you have too much on your plate, to begin with.
Most of the things we imagine need to be done as soon as possible, can really be spread out over a handful of days or even weeks.
Instead of trying to tackle ten items in one day, break it down and give yourself two or three max.
Mentally, when you have a large list that isn’t completed, you feel like you failed or did not work hard enough.
Let’s face it – we ALL work hard. Celebrate your accomplishments.
It will feel awesome to make a to-do list of only a couple of things and complete them all.
It is a mental trick that works every time.
When you feel accomplished, your mood drastically improves and it shows.
Clear Out Your Contacts
The age of address books is dead.
Back in the day, adding a contact into your address book meant business.
You were an important entry. Nowadays, random acquaintances from that party last night end up cluttering your list.
Everything is stored either on your phone or computer, which contain endless storage to the point where many of your contacts end up lost in the abyss.
Once a year, or at least when you get a new phone or device, opt-out of the service to transfer your contacts list.
Then, physically go through your old list and pick and choose who you want to add to your new list.
This helps to weed out the friends, coworkers, or services that you no longer need to hold onto.
The same rule goes for phone numbers as it does for clothes and old paper.
If you have not spoken to someone in over a year, and you do not plan on it anytime soon, get rid of that number.
Learn When to Say No
Whether is work-related or personal life related, learn to say no.
Most people have a ridiculously hard time saying no to friends or their boss at work, thinking they will miss out on an opportunity, and then end up overwhelmed.
It is okay to save your yeses for those situations where you feel your heart may burst with excitement.
The goal here is to enjoy life, right?
What fun is it to overload yourself with the stress that could have avoided by just saying no?
Your schedule is up to you. Nobody should be made to feel bad for saying no.
It is one of the biggest actions you can take in the name of mental health.
Say Goodbye to Toxic People
Decluttering can absolutely extend to the people in your life.
Sometimes you will meet someone who ends up coming to you to vent or complain about what they have going on and continues to do so again and again and again.
While it is great to have a friend to talk to, if the themes are always negative, you may want to seriously rethink the friendship.
Friends are support systems and should be lifting each other up.
We all have our troubles but can definitely feel the exhaustion when we try to help a friend through their own.
Unfortunately, some people are innately negative without even realizing it is their main trait.
You may want to find a way to gently break it to them, but in the end, the separation will be for the best.
The topic of mental health is huge today and many of the stories we see populating social media are tragic examples of what can happen when someone feels that life has become too much to handle.
Often we forget that WE are the ones in control of our lives.
The effects of stress can range from simple headaches to much more dangerous side effects such as ruining your teeth and gums and causing long-term disability.
Because there is so much to lose by giving into a cluttered, stressed-out lifestyle, it is up to us to create a life that we not only love but can appreciate its simplicity.
Decluttering your life can start with the smallest step of throwing away one old billing statement and snowball into simplifying your day-to-day routine.
Every tiny forward motion helps and it will take time.
Like anything that is worth it, learning to live simply comes in stages.
It is not something you can accomplish in a weekend, but be sure to take heart knowing that each step you do take is one more breath of relaxation at the end of the day.
You will be amazed at how light you feel as you move through these ten decluttering suggestions.
It is time to fill up that cup with a life that you adore.
What will you declutter first?
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