In my article, “Embrace the Fall”, I stated that the change of seasons is a great time to re-energize your health and fitness routine, change your diet and declutter your home. In this article, I dive deeper into the idea that holding onto unnecessary and unwanted items physically and mentally weighs you down. Is clutter holding you back?
Clutter is a catch phrase for messiness and detritus, the general debris of life you’re holding on to such as stacks of papers or items like a broken printer or frayed clothes. Mental clutter includes fearful beliefs and negative feelings. At best clutter is a distraction and wasted energy, at worst, it is a significant obstacle to better health and happiness.
What does decluttering have to do with health and fitness? Every day I watch my clients’ bodies adversely affected by their physical environment and by their thoughts. They sit for 8-10 hours a day in small cubicles with no windows, under artificial light and wonder why their bodies are so stiff and tight at the end of the day. After a hard workday, some clients think “I deserve a treat!” The treat often consists of eating take-out food with 2 glasses of wine and watching 3 hours of TV that evening. Why can’t a treat be a good work-out or a bubble bath, maybe soothing music, a good book or a phone call to a loved one? Some aspects of life are outside our control. Other aspects like our home environment are more easily changed. Evaluating personal space and beliefs is a wise process. Consciously letting go of that which no longer serves us is a loving act on your own behalf.
How to determine what to let go? Take inventory. For many of us, starting is the hardest part. If you find yourself procrastinating or feeling overwhelmed, use the following method I learned from a professional organizer.
For physical objects, pick one area of your home or work space to focus on. This could be a single drawer, closet or top of your desk. Set a time limit using your smart phone or a kitchen timer-30 minutes works well. Establish 3 categories for your things: save, trash and donate. Label bags or boxes with your 3 categories and get to work. Handle each item once, putting it in the appropriate bag. Stop when the timer goes off. Put the trash bags in your trash barrel and donate bags in your car. Put the items in your save bag back in the drawer, closet or desk. Repeat these steps as you work through your home. You may want to do this alone as the process can feel very personal and private. However consider whether a trusted friend’s presence would be supportive.
Taking inventory of limiting beliefs is tricky. Sometimes we are well aware of certain beliefs or feelings which hold us back, sometimes we’re clueless. If we’re unaware, keeping a journal may provide insight. Talking to a professional can be quite helpful. A traditional therapist, psychologist, social worker, a nutrition educator, a life coach, even an astute personal trainer can offer perceptive feedback. Professionals are trained to note inconsistencies between words and actions, track patterns and observe larger cycles of behavior, all of which are hard for us to notice in the daily busyness of life. Close friends and non-judgemental family members may be willing to share their own thoughtful observations. Identifying limiting beliefs is one step. Releasing these beliefs is another step. But you can’t release what you don’t know. The beginning of letting go is knowing first what you’re clinging to.
While decluttering your life may seem a unrelated issue, consider that in a holistic world, one part affects all the other parts. In such a world, mindfully evaluating and then letting go may reap rich dividends in the areas of health and fitness.