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28 Days of Mindfulness

DAY 12

Declutter your space — and your mind

Here’s how to deep clean mindfully to improve your physical space and mental wellbeing.

Is tackling a deep clean on your to-do list? With a bit of extra time on your hands, you may feel inclined to take on those daunting tasks you’ve been putting off – like decluttering your house or studio.

Evidence suggests that it’s worth the effort. A 2011 Workspace Survey found that more than half of the 1,000 respondents claimed that disorganization at work affected their motivation and nearly a quarter said that clutter impacted their relationships with others.

Many other studies have found similar correlations between tidy spaces and improved mood and overall wellbeing.

Let's sort it out

Lead Instructor Trainer Adriana Rotella, who has a sparkling home studio in Port Credit, Mississauga, shares her tips for cleaning mindfully to reduce mental and physical chaos.

Tip #1 – Start small and recognize the little wins

There are two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning: You can ‘Marie Kondo’ your whole house— ridding your space of any physical items that don’t spark joy— or you can tackle one small project at a time.

“The Marie Kondo method is not going to work for us right now. With homeschooling and trying to still see my Pilates clients on Zoom, my approach is tackling small things that I have time for, like organizing a drawer, going through my paper files, etc.

“For me, recognizing the small wins throughout the day and tackling small projects one at a time add up to more success versus tearing everything apart. I feel like that would put me in a much more stressful place.”

Tip #2: Tackle your favorite spaces first or the things you’ve been putting off

It’s all about demonstrating that the reward is worth the effort. Do you have an overstuffed closet, bin or teetering shelf that needs attention? Using the small steps approach, aim to get a handle on it. Think about how much better you’ll feel once this task is complete.

Alternatively, you can also start with your favorite or most-used spaces, where you’ll be sure to notice, and benefit from, a clean and tidy environment.

Tip #3: Tidy as you go

“We have to look at our spaces, whether that’s our home or studio, kind of like our bodies,” says Adriana, who is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. “You want to attend to it on a daily basis, making it a lot easier to deal with in the long-run than doing it all at once at the end of the week.

“Our minds are not separate from our environments; it’s difficult for us to feel calm on the inside if the outside is chaotic and messy.”

Tip #4: Remove chaos in your physical space

“Being in an environment that’s clean and tidy really does have an effect on our brain, mood and even our health choices believe it or not. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that people who are in a neat space for 10 minutes are twice as likely to make better choices through their diets, like choosing an apple over a chocolate bar – and the reason for that is our brains don’t like chaos. When our brains feel chaotic, we tend to gravitate towards coping mechanisms, like choosing comfort foods or overeating.

“While it’s not just about having a tidy space, it can have an impact on our mood, sleep and overall health habits.”

For more ideas on how to clean and tidy mindfully

Read more from the 28 Days of Mindfulness