Less Clutter = Less Stress

2020 has been a stressful year and we’re only half way through it. But most of us would also agree that with the stress there have been some positives. We’ve slowed down. We’ve cooked healthier meals. And many of us have begun to take on cleaning and de-cluttering projects because we’ve had a lot of time on our hands.

If you look around your living space and feel the need to de-clutter, you may be encouraged by some common sense tips and bits of information to help you tackle one project at a time.

First of all, a cluttered, messy home causes mental overload. Everywhere you look there is a job to be done. You can’t find the paperwork you need or the article of clothing you want to wear. When you look at your laundry pile, it seems endless and overwhelming. These emotions are energy-draining and contribute to higher stress levels.

On the other hand, an orderly living space sends the message that all is well. Anxiety gives way to relaxation. You’re able to focus on the task at hand and that focus often leads to creativity and accomplishment.

But, de-cluttering requires a concerted effort beginning with the decision to do it. Most de-clutter experts encourage a systematic, well-planned attack on “stuff” in the home. Here are some tips to setting out to make your home a peaceful, healthy, and enjoyable place to live.

  • First of all identify the trouble spots in your home. They most likely will include junk drawers, closets, storage areas, and the garage. Make a list.
  • Decide on a sorting method as you work on one trouble area at a time. You might decide to toss, store, recycle or sell items. 
  • Develop some self talk to help you with the decision-making. “Someone else can use this now,” “Thank you for your service, but I don’t need you anymore.” This will be especially difficult when sorting through clothing items. A good rule of thumb is to ask, “Have I worn this in the last six months? Does it need repair? Does it fit well? If not, recycle or otherwise dispose of it.
  • Identify “memory clutter,” those items we keep because they represent a fun time or a certain relationship. Is there a way to save the memory without keeping the item?
  • Identify “someday clutter,” the items that don’t fit, but maybe you’ll lose ten pounds, or I’ll fix it someday. Either fix it now or get rid of it.
  • Make it a goal to clear flat surfaces in your home. These are the areas that begin to build up with unfinished business: items that haven’t been properly put away or things we don’t have an established place for.
  • Keep like items together. For instance tools and home repair kits should be stored together so everyone knows where to find them. 
  • When possible, enlist the help of the rest of your family. Even children will become excited about cleaning out excess “stuff” if they get the proceeds at a garage sale.
  • You may wish to research new storage units for your kitchen, laundry area or clothes closets. A junk drawer can be cleaned up quickly with some simple box dividers to keep the articles separated and easy to find.
  • Don’t let the “wasted money” blues get in your way when purging unnecessary items. Those expenditures are history and your goal now is an orderly, relaxing space in which to live each day.

So let’s be thankful for the good things 2020 has brought our way. The challenge to de-clutter and de-stress our homes can be one of the positive outcomes.

Fifteen Tips for Seniors Living in Quarantine

We often think of natural disasters when we contemplate a crisis. We think of hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, fires. We usually don’t think of the dangers of serious illness and the need to just stay home. What used to seem like a luxury, being home with our families, begins to take on an ominous tone—how in the world are we going to cope being cooped up like this?

And for many seniors, this will mean living alone—all the time. How to manage? Here are fifteen tips for staying positive, happy and healthy during this quarantine crisis.

  1. Stay in touch with friends and family. Make phone calls. It’s good to hear others’ voices. Try face time or video chats. This may push we seniors to use technology we’re not comfortable using, but the rewards of seeing the faces of loved ones will brighten any day. If you’re on Facebook, try Facebook Messenger.
  2. Learn something new. This is the perfect time to use one of the simple online language courses such as Duolingo or Babble. Or determine to master algebra with the Kahn Academy.
  3. Listen to music you enjoy. In the hurry of our normal lives we often miss out on the opportunity to tune out everything else and immerse ourselves in the beauty of the music we love.
  4. Write something. This is a great time to journal or blog. Write an old-fashioned letter to someone. Write about experiences that define your life. Remember, the younger generation won’t know about these experiences unless you document them.
  5. Find a way to give. Go to com to work on your vocabulary and feed the poor at the same time. Donate to a good cause. Call others who are lonely or write a message to encourage someone who is ill or depressed.
  6. It may take some creativity, but stay active in some way. Dance to a song on the radio, find an online or television exercise show and move along with it. Walk a certain number of steps each day. Keep moving.
  7. Do something artistic. You may enjoy those beautiful coloring books. Many are free online right now for those of us needing something to do. Use water paints to create or take up origami.
  8. Play online games. There are thousands of these and they’re free. They use up great quantities of time and are fun.
  9. Clean and de-clutter. What better time than now to deep clean areas of your home that have been neglected? And weed out those things you no longer want or need and place them somewhere to be given away or trashed when the quarantine is over.
  10. Most of us have some crafting projects we enjoy doing. You may start a new knitting or crochet project, finish that scrapbook or decoupage.
  11. We all enjoy eating and when we have extra time on our hands, why not bake or cook those things we enjoy most? Or, if you have the items on hand, try something new. A new soup, a fancy pastry?
  12. Never finished War and Peace? Just kidding, but reading is usually a luxury. Now that you have time, feel free to read all you want. Don’t forget you can buy those e-books if you run out of the real thing.
  13. If you’re not alone, play board games and have tournaments. Card games are also fun and can fill many enjoyable hours.
  14. Create your own some music. You may not be accomplished on the guitar or the piano, but with a bit of practice you may find you can entertain yourself nicely.
  15. Watch old films or television series. Find something you enjoy and the hours will melt away.

In times of trouble it’s important to keep a positive attitude and stay engaged. Be proactive in taking good care of yourself, your family members and your friends. Even if you need to do the caring at a distance, make the most of this remarkable time by living life fully and giving to others in this time of need.