De-cluttering As a Way To Health

This morning I was inspired to do some de-cluttering around my office and throughout our home. Most people don’t think of de-cluttering as a way to achieve greater health, but it can be.

When you’re working to regain health you have to make changes in your life that support the changes you want to see in your health. You might need to eat different things, or make an intentional effort to walk more, or sit less. You might need to remember to take supplements or herbs throughout the day. Whatever it is that you are working to change needs to have space in your life. The problem is that we all only have a certain amount of space in our homes, in our minds and in our lives. To make room for the new, you have to intentionally get rid of the old. This usually involves changing or “getting rid of” old thoughts or ideas that no longer serve your best interests. But, it also applies to things, and sometimes even people.

The act of physically de-cluttering an area of space can help you reexamine your beliefs and decide what beliefs, ideas, and thoughts might be holding you back from achieving your health goals.

For example, while de-cluttering my closet one day, I ran across a pair of old running shoes. I had these running shoes for a while but they looked brand new. I stood there with those shoes in my hands wondering it I should keep them, or pass them on to someone else. I debated with myself because I knew I’d never use them, but at the same time I really hate getting rid of things that I’ve never used. Then, I asked myself WHY I was keeping the shoes. The answer was that I knew I *should* be running a couple times each week. I enjoy running short distances as long as I don’t overdo it and wear myself out. I reminded myself that I had not actually gone running in several months. Then I thought about why I wasn’t running. The answer was pretty simple. I had purchased those running shoes when my old ones needed replaced, but the first 5 or 6 times out in them caused my knees and hip to hurt. Something about those  particular running shoes were causing me pain. I was avoiding running in order to avoid the pain.

I got rid of the shoes, and bought myself a pair of barefoot running shoes instead. Because I felt guilty for getting rid a pair of shoes that looked like they had never been worn, I looked for an inexpensive pair of barefoot running shoes and ended up finding the Xero shoes that I love so much.

On a spiritual level, what I did was let go of the old to make room for the new, or the “something better.”

We do this all the time in every area of our lives. Or, at least we should. Letting go of old ways, old items, old thoughts is hard. It’s something that most humans struggle with. It takes effort and practice to learn to do gracefully. An excellent way to practice letting go is to spend some time going through your home and donating or recycling those items that either no longer serve a purpose or those things that no longer make you happy. It’s a daunting project, but one that lends itself well to starting small.

Maybe you start with the “junk drawer” we all seem to have. Mine spans two drawers in our kitchen. These two drawers are where odds and ends get tossed when somebody doesn’t know what else to do with the item. I don’t know about  your house, but in ours, those two little drawers accumulate some of the weirdest, most useless stuff. Sometimes when I go thought the junk drawers I find that one item that we’ve all been looking for, but not usually. Every month or so I make it a point to go through the junk drawers and get rid of those things that have been completely unused for awhile. Some things get donated, others go into the trash. If I didn’t periodically clean out the junk drawer it would eventually become full and there would be no room for anything else. Clearing it out, makes room for the new.

De-cluttering, while it does keep our homes neat and tidy, is mostly a mind game.

I had a client once who was struggling to lose weight. She was morbidly obese and her physician told her that if she didn’t get serious about losing the weight she wouldn’t have long to live. The conversation with her doctor scared her, and she called me.  We talked about why she was struggling to lose the weight. After several long conversations I got the impression that the root of her problem was she was afraid of change. Losing weight meant change– it meant changing her diet, changing her activities, changing her ideas and thoughts of herself. No meal plan in the world could help her lose weight if she wasn’t ready to make changes in her life.

I suggested that she start a declutttering project. I explained the concept of letting go, and changing your thoughts to her, and then explained how a simple house declutter project might help change her mindset. I told her not to base her decision to “keep or pitch” on the item’s potential usefulness. I suggested that she only keep those things that she used on a regular basis, or that made her happy. She was hesitant, so I suggested she start small. She said she had a closet in her entryway that seemed to accumulate random things. So, she started there. A few days later she emailed me with photos of the closet. She donated the items she didn’t want, and only found a few things in that closet worth keeping. Motivated by the success of the closet project, she took on her bedroom closet. Two weeks later she emailed me with before and after photos of her bedroom closet. She had donated or gotten rid of all the clothes she didn’t like or didn’t feel good wearing, and there had been a lot of them. But, keeping the clothes she liked and felt good in helped her feel better about herself. She started walking around the block every day. It was a small step toward better health, but every long journey is made up of lots of small steps.

Her next step was to replace her lunchtime soda with water. Again, it was another small step, but it was motivated by the fact that she felt better wearing clothes that made her feel good about herself.

With these two small steps my client did, indeed, see some weight loss and small improvements in how she felt physically. She had a long road ahead of her but it started with the simple act of making room both in her home, and in her mind.

Tell me your thoughts.