I’ve mentioned before that self-care can sometimes be surprising. That is, sometimes, self-care isn’t blissful or relaxing in the moment. Sometimes, it feels like work. Sometimes, it’s even decluttering. Because what we surround ourselves with has a powerful effect on our well-being, on our psychological and physical health.
For instance, I spend a lot of time at home. I work from home. Naturally, it’s where I relax. It’s where I spend quality time with my husband. For me it’s important to have a relatively organized, clean and inspiring space. For my work. And my life. How my home feels affects my mood and perspective.
I’m realizing that the state of my home is a big part of my self-care, because I meet my needs in this environment. I meet needs such as sleep, rest, nourishment, connection, curiosity and growth.
Our homes also contain many emotions, attachments, burdens, worries and fears in the form of objects. Clutter can represent guilt, regret, overwhelm and uncertainty, among others.
Recently, I’ve been diving into a wonderful book called Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home. It’s written by Lauren Rosenfeld, MA, MED, a coach, teacher and “soul declutterer,” and Melva Green, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, spiritual healer and expert doctor on the A&E show “Hoarders.” Their book is filled with eye-opening insights, and practical and inspiring tips.
It speaks to decluttering as a spiritual practice. It speaks to something more profound than simply getting rid of items we don’t need.
According to Rosenfeld and Green, “Decluttering as a spiritual practice allows you to constantly uncover and discover what is deeply meaningful, moving and valuable in your life. It reminds you what matters most in life.” So it’s about our stuff. And it isn’t about our stuff.
Today, I’m sharing two of my favorite tips from Breathing Room. (And this Sunday I’m sharing a third, which helps us make the tough decision of whether to keep or let go of an item.)
1. Set an intention for each room.
Rosenfeld and Green suggest setting an intention for each room you’re decluttering. This can be up to three or four words (so it’s easy to remember). As they write, “What energy do you want to create in each space in your home? What energy do you want to thrive in there?”
Create a sign, and hang it in each room: “This room was made for _______.”
For instance, in your entry way, you might want “open,” “inviting,” and “warm.” In your dining room, you might want “nourishing,” “laughter,” and “friendship.” In the bathroom, you might want “refreshing,” “acceptance,” and “compassion.” And in your bedroom, you might want “restful,” “refuge,” and “simplicity.”
Let go of anything that doesn’t help you feel the intentions of each space.
Many of their clients keep the signs in their rooms. This way when clutter creeps back in, they’re reminded of their powerful intentions.
2. Say an affirmation for objects that are hard to let go.
Rosenfeld and Green liken our possessions to foreign objects in our bodies. In other words, objects aren’t part of our essential self. Some objects are helpful — like an implanted pin for holding bones together. This helps you move freely and enjoy your environment.
However, other objects, like a splinter, don’t. By removing splinters, we enhance our lives. And we also enhance our power to do good in the world.
When we’re getting rid of objects that are painful to relinquish, the authors suggest this affirmation:
This object has found its way into my home and my life, but it is not me. It is preventing me from living fully and happily. It is stealing my power. It is preventing me from caring for myself, communicating with others, and getting me where I need to go in life. I don’t care how much it hurts to remove it. I am going to do this so I can get back to the business of being me and serving the world.
Decluttering can feel like a chore. And it’s certainly work.
But it also makes room for what’s truly important in our lives. It nourishes our well-being, helping to cleanse, inspire and uplift our outer space (our homes) and our inner space (our needs, wants, mood, perspective, burdens, expectations, shoulds).
It helps us be thoughtful and intentional about the spaces we inhabit. It helps us better understand how we want to structure our spaces and our days.
It relinquishes what doesn’t matter and leaves what does. Which is really the ultimate in self-care.
How do you want your home to feel? What do you want each room to reflect? What expectations, burdens, beliefs and shoulds do you want to relinquish?
Stay tuned for Sunday, when I’ll share another powerful tip from Breathing Room for figuring out whether an object stays or goes.
Update: Here’s Sunday’s post.