A friend once said to me that his goal was to reduce the number of keys on his ring to 2 – his house and his vehicle. When I asked him why, he said “fewer keys, fewer responsibilities”.
Maybe this is a principle we can apply to our stuff.
That breadmaker sitting on that shelf? Could be it’s just a reminder that you NEED to make bread soon, otherwise you’re a failure as a cook.
The juicer that you haven’t used in a year? Is it just screaming at you that you’re failing in your health goals?
That cute black dress in your closet that no longer fits? See above ^^^
My point here is that everything we own represents a responsibility - as simple perhaps as just an item on a shelf that we need to dust, maintain, or move around all the way up to the things that make us feel guilty or overwhelmed whenever our gaze rests on them.
A study from researchers at UCLA, found that participants who described their homes as "higher stress", meaning cluttered and/or a sense of their homes being unfinished, had higher levels of cortisol than those who described their homes as restful or restorative. Cortisol is what's commonly known as the "stress hormone" and is produced by the "fight or flight" response. Higher levels of it are associated with poorer health outcomes.
So, why do we do it to ourselves? All the clutter, representing responsibilities that we feel we are in some way ignoring, literally affects physical health (never mind the affect on mental health).
I think my friend had the right idea - fewer responsibilities can lead to lower stress. Obviously, there is no way (nor a reason we would WANT) to rid ourselves of some of our responsibilities, but the low-hanging fruit to reduce stress is to reduce clutter in our homes.
The added bonus, of course, to reducing stuff in our homes is that we can find our keys. Every. Single. Time.
I'd love to help you reduce your cortisol levels. Let's get started today!