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De-cluttering Your Home, Your Mind, Your Life

May 6, 2010

Tags: order, water, charity, clutter, de-clutter, De-cluttering Your Home - Your Mind - Your Life, depression, feng shui, garbage, health, qi -life energy, stress factor, Ten-Minutes-De-cluttering Program, toxic dump, wind

Believe it or not: A cluttered home is a severe stress factor in your life – at least, if I believe my patients. An untidy home makes people feel inadequate, ashamed and asocial. Because their homes are so messy, they don’t invite people over and become more and more isolated.

Feng shui, the Chinese art of bringing luck, health and prosperity to your life seems, on first look, rather outlandish – another form of quackery. On second look, feng shui (literally “wind water”) wants you to tidy up your place.

Actually, the “water” part refers to the place where you choose to live: It has to be at an “auspicious” spot - which sounds like weird magic. But in olden times, the perfect dwelling spot was near water; today, without having an inkling of feng shui, what appeals to us – a green neighborhood, a view from a little hill, not much traffic – is also a healthy choice (unless there is an undisclosed toxic dump nearby…).

The “wind” part means – at least in my interpretation – that you have to create space so that the wind can blow freely around in your home - a fancy way of saying you have no clutter around. The Chinese also call this wind “qi” (pronounced chi) - the positive life energy. In your house, is a visitor greeted by a pile of shoes, old newspapers and stacks of plastic bags that long should have been carried out to the garbage? Or is your entrance welcoming?

Now, with my cosmic greed for books, the wind has a bit of a hard time here. BUT those books I do love, they are not a burden on me, and I keep them in order by handing down some, from time to time, to local schools. I am really not the tidiest of persons. But here is a little secret, handed down from my late, beloved mother-in-law Hilde: If you don’t have time for big cleaning, at least keep the table free of clutter. Try it – immediately, the room looks better.

And here is the Ten-Minutes-De-cluttering Program I developed for my patients who are drowning in disorder and depression:

Have an egg timer (I use an egg timer for all sorts or weird things). Put it on ten minutes. Start de-cluttering in a corner – any corner, but preferably at the entrance. For everything you take into your hand, find a final place: file or shelf room, garbage, charity. And one box with "Cannot yet make up my mind." That box you store for one year; then throw it out.

When the egg timer rings, you are done for the day – unless you suddenly find yourself in the mood of doing some more. Next day, you do the same – even if you did over-time the day before. If you do only ten minutes per day, your place can’t but get "windier" – and you can’t but get relief.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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