Health & wellbeing

How to be happy with less stuff!

20 Oct 2023 | Written by Susanna Lewis

The Joy Club member and host of our monthly ‘Writing for wellbeing‘ workshops shares her tips on how to start to declutter your life…

I always view Autumn as a time for slowing down and preparing for the winter ahead. As nature prepares to enter the cold season by nurturing and taking things slowly, then maybe that is our signal to do the same. Autumn is a time of great change, a time when we can evaluate our lives and maybe look at ways to make it simpler and less stressful.

The modern world can be so overwhelming to such an extent that we can be almost swept away by the busyness, losing sight of what really matters. Over the last year, I have tried to engage in a more minimal way of living, both practically and emotionally. By making small changes and reducing both physical and mental clutter in my life, I have noticed that I am more calm and peaceful. I even feel ‘lighter’ with the heavy weights of life noticeably reduced.
It is obvious what we need to do to reduce the physical clutter in our lives. It can be overwhelming to start with, as over the years many of us accumulate so much ‘stuff’ that we find it hard to get rid of. When I started my decluttering journey last year I couldn’t believe what unnecessary things I was hoarding! I even had utility bills going back ten years! Why? However, it is possible to declutter your life of unwanted and unloved possessions so here are my top three tips to get you started.

  1. Start small. Don’t think you will complete the whole task in one day. This will inevitably stress you out and could totally sabotage the activity. Start with one task, maybe clearing out a ‘junk drawer.’ Let’s face it. We ALL have a junk drawer! Once you have completed a small job like the junk drawer, you will feel energised to move on to another decluttering activity.
  2. Set yourself a timer of say thirty minutes. Once the timer goes off, leave the task and go do something nice. Go for a walk, have a coffee (and cake), or read a book. After an hour go back to your decluttering and set the timer again for another thirty minutes and repeat. Using this method means that you don’t feel overwhelmed with the task ahead and doing something nice in between decluttering will energise you to complete the task.
  3. Look at the items you are thinking about decluttering. If you don’t love them and you don’t use them regularly, then get rid of them. Don’t be too sentimental. If your friend bought you a vase that you absolutely hate and would never use, then get rid of it and let someone else appreciate it. I try and donate my unwanted items to charity shops. It’s helpful to the charity and you are supporting sustainability in the world

So, now you have started decluttering your possessions let us look at decluttering your mind. A busy and overwhelmed mind can play havoc with our health and can prevent us from living a happy and fulfilling life. Here are my top tips for clearing your mind that will help improve your health.

  1. Put pen to paper and start writing. This is my favourite way of clearing your overwhelmed mind. As a therapeutic writing teacher, I often see how journaling can change people and their negative and busy thoughts. Unleashing overpowering thoughts via writing is a proven method in helping to release the mind from the intensity of negative emotions. Why not carry a small notebook with you and every time you feel overwhelmed with strong feelings, simply write down how you are feeling. Don’t hold back. Be honest and let the words flow onto the paper. Trust me, you will feel so much better.
  2. Get some restful sleep. This may sound obvious but when we are tired our mind starts playing tricks on us and our small problems often evolve into much larger problems and this can be a real trigger for overwhelm. Make sure you rest well and enjoy peaceful sleep regularly.
  3. Be decisive. We often feel overwhelmed because we delay making difficult decisions. How many of you avoid making a decision because it is awkward or you lack the enthusiasm to do it? This lack of decisiveness just creates more overwhelm in the mind. Once you are proactive and decide to tackle the issue head-on, then you almost feel relief at another difficult task accomplished.

Clutter of our environment and mind can have a serious impact on our health and wellbeing. Without clutter we can feel lighter and invigorated with a sense of freedom. Our life becomes simplified and we free up energy to enjoy life and all it has to offer. It is only when we try to declutter do we appreciate just how much our clutter was weighing us down. Why not have a think about how you can start to declutter your life? Don’t forget to start small. The famous quote by Confuscious ‘The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying small stones’ is wonderful advice to anyone who may be starting their decluttering journey.

Where next?