screen shot 2019-01-16 at 12.37.44 amI’m sure that many of us have started 2019 off with New Year’s resolutions, setting intentions, or creating the theme for the rest of our year. This year, I decided my theme would be overall mental health. I will flourish, I will thrive. I will put all the things I want into the universe and manifest that shit. And so will you!

One of my main goals for achieving a greater mental health is to continue my journey through “minimalism” or “decluttering”. I believe anyone can do it, and it definitely puts a mirror to one’s life – how we hold onto memories, our behaviors and habits, along with how our possessions can play a huge role in our mental health.

How I Got Started

First off, I’m not anywhere near where I want to be and that’s okay. It feels to me like it’s going to be a continuous relationship with my belongings for the rest of my natural life, and I’m looking forward to growing alongside my experience. My journey began when I was walking through Barnes and Noble in Manhattan and walked past The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders. I took a few steps backwards and shuffled through the book a little bit, and decided that it was coming home with me. I finished the book after a couple of days. The Year of Less completely changed my perspective on myself and what I own. More importantly, why I own things.

It’s A Process

Taking what I learned from Flanders, I went to work on decluttering my space. Moving to NYC last year was an abrupt move for me, so I only brought two suitcases – but over time, things accumulate! In a week, I released 70% of my belongings, with things including makeup, clothes, jewelry, shoes, books, and accessories. The process of letting go involved me asking myself the same questions over and over again. (It can feel tedious, but I promise it’s rewarding). Through my reading, I cultivated my own set of questions to fit my life. I needed to consider things like weather conditions, quantity, and emotional connection to items I would consider letting go. I made a rule for myself that if I hadn’t used the item in the last three months, it was being set aside to either be thrown away, recycled, or donated. I asked myself if the item was something that I would see myself regularly using, or if it was the idea that I wanted to be the kind of person to use that item, and use it well. This was particularly common among my clothing and makeup. An example would be that I’ve never been someone to use false eyelashes or eyeliner and I have continuously bought it time and time again in the hopes that I’d be someone who uses it, and it just never happens. My final rule for items that I would be bringing into my life in the future, was that something I currently own would have to go. So if I buy a new shirt, that means another needs to go.

Changes

I began to notice that as my pile grew in size, all the money I had wasted on things I was buying to fill voids or create an ideal version of myself was adding up. The next question I asked involved items that were more sentimental, like greeting cards, letters, and inanimate objects that I had special memories attached to. Asking myself as well as reminding myself that the sentimental value is with the memories themselves, not the item. With the exception of a few items that were given to me by loved ones who are no longer with me anymore, everything was put into my declutter pile.

Decluttering has taught me about where I have been at in my financial literacy, where I want to be, as well as the habits I’ve formed from a young age, to some habits I’ve picked up as an adult. I’m a scatterbrained young woman trying to do a million things at a time, and a messy room just tells me how out of control it can get. When my space is clean, my head is clear. I can think less about what I need to do in the morning if I have less to consider.

Final Tips

  1. It’s a process, and it won’t be perfect.
  2. It’s not for everyone, and that’s OKAY!
  3. If you get frustrated or stuck, just skip over it. Lingering might make you rethink everything and stop altogether.
  4. Keep a journal to log your emotions during the process.
  5. Supportive friends are the best when decluttering. Have folks over when you declutter if you feel like company would help you move faster.
  6. When decluttering, two ways I’ve found clearing the space to be successful is: #1. Working in sections of the room instead of hopping all over the place keeps me more level headed. #2. Throw EVERYTHING into the center of the room, and work from that pile and separate.
  7. Outside inspiration tools are great! @afrominimalist @theminimalists & @allie_thatsme are some folks I find to be helpful in my journey.
  8. You’re doing amazing.

Growth is not linear, just like healing is not linear. I hope you decide to try decluttering in any way, shape, or form in your life, and see how it works for you.