Northwest Arkansas organizers share trade secrets to address the mess
Clean your space and your mind will follow.
State of play: Mental health ranked high, along with physical and fiscal reboots, for top 2023 resolutions, Forbes reports. One way to free up headspace — others include exercise, mindfulness, social activity and sufficient sleep — is to declutter.
Why it matters: It's never been easier to acquire stuff. And when your possessions pile up, the result is often more stress than happiness, two NWA organizers tell Axios.
What they're saying: "We're much more impacted by our environments than we realize," said Amber Taggard, owner of The Organizer Chicks.
- Armed with a master's degree in clinical mental health, Taggard points out that cortisol levels — a hormone that drives the body's stress reactions — spike when we see disorder.
The big picture: Stats on how much clutter each household in the U.S. has are a bit squishy, but consider these often-cited numbers:
- The average U.S. home has more than 300,000 items, Los Angeles organizer Regina Lark famously said.
- We spend an average of $15 per square foot annually to store belongings whether they're used or not, another organizer estimates.
- The average weight of a household move in the U.S. is 8,000 pounds.
- One writer estimates we spend six months over our lifetimes searching for lost things. Ikea claims it's between 1 and 10 minutes per item.
The intrigue: These examples aren't outrageous and don't approach hoarding disorder, officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Be smart: If you're looking to declutter, Taggard and Hillary Jeter, owner of Clutter Away NWA, offer a few simple steps to get started:
- Start small. The brain is wired to respond to small victories, Jeter said.
- Sort items from one cabinet or drawer and put them into categories. Edit and purge each category by evaluating if you love, need or use the items.
- If an item can't be categorized, toss it.
- Put what's left in a container, ideally with a label, so each article has a home.
- Once objects are right-sized to your space, maintaining a one-in, one-out policy is key to long-term success.
The bottom line: Consider that every object takes up brain power and can come with negative feelings.
- Ridding yourself of excess helps alleviate those feelings and can lead to better mental health.
If it all becomes overwhelming, consider asking a friend for help or a professional who's not emotionally invested in your stuff.
- Services in NWA begin at about $55 per hour.
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