When you think about health and wellness, an organized home may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it turns out that there is a strong connection between the two. The truth is, it is difficult for most people to achieve their health and wellness goals if their homes, offices and lives are a mess.
What’s the Connection?
As a relatively new area of interest in both the wellness and organizing fields, this often-observed connection can likely be boiled down to a couple of basic issues – physical and mental clutter. It just makes sense – if you can’t find your gym shoes, you’re just not going to make it to the gym after work. Likewise, if your kitchen and refrigerator are a jumbled mess, the chances of you packing a healthy lunch are slim to none.
The mental clutter connection is a little less clear cut, but may be an important piece of the puzzle. For most people, a cluttered home (or office or schedule) causes feelings of stress, chaos and lack of control. Thoughts about how to manage the mess can feel overwhelming and may consume any extra mental energy. Exercise and healthy meals just may not make it to the top of the priority list. In addition, healthy habits are just that - habits – they require practice and having the right systems in place, which is tough to do when you don’t feel in control of your life.
On an even deeper level, there are many things that clutter and extra weight have in common.
- People often hold onto clutter for emotional reasons, just like extra weight. Addressing the emotional background may be key to making progress on either front.
- You have to decide that you are ready to free yourself from your excess stuff, just like you have to be ready to lose the weight. Professionals or family and friends can help support you, but it has to come from within.
- Drastic approaches to de-cluttering often fail in the long term, just like weight loss. Slow and steady changes definitely win the race.
The great thing is that just as clutter and weight often go together, the reverse is also true. People who have an ‘ah ha’ moment and start clearing the clutter from their homes, offices and schedules often lose weight as an excellent side benefit. This is likely due to the ‘high’ that comes along with taking back control and working toward the life you want.
But even if you or someone you know are not overwhelmed by clutter, chances are you have some piles and messes in your home or office. Think about whether any of them are getting in the way of a healthier you. According to organizational expert Julie Morgenstern, one of the most common causes of clutter is what she terms a ‘technical error.’ In the organizing sense, technical errors are simple, mechanical mistakes that physically get in the way (i.e. you cannot get your bike out of the garage to go for a ride because it is stuck behind three bins of Christmas decorations). Technical errors can occur for several reasons including inconvenient storage, not having a specific home for each item, too much stuff for the space you have, or creating systems that are too complicated.
Shape Up Your Home, Shape Up Your Life
Walk through your home and make a list of the organizing errors you find. You can even get your family involved in this investigative task. Likewise, involving the whole family in fixing the issues will help ensure that your new systems succeed so you can focus on bigger and better things like making healthy meals and enjoying healthy holiday fun!
If you are overwhelmed by clutter, enlist the help of a trusted family member, friend, or better yet, a trained professional. If you want to make some changes on your own, there are plenty of books and on-line tips to help you improve your systems and change the way you think about your stuff.
Bottom Line: You may be surprised at what a little organizational improvement can do to kick-start your health and wellness routine. Good organizational habits, healthy eating and plenty of exercise may just be the winning combination you need!
Recommended Reading: Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh