This Mental Health Awareness Week, pick a spot in your home that has some clutter in it and ask yourself, "Does this item make me feel good or bad?"
If the answer is bad, then consider getting rid of that item.
Clutter, stuff, things, belongings, whatever you want to call the numerous objects that are in your home, have an impact on your mental health.
I'm no expert, but I know how overwhelmed I feel when my rooms are overflowing with stuff. When it's difficult to pull a shirt out of the wardrobe because it's crammed tight. When I bump into a shelf because I'm squeezing between boxes. When floor space is so small that I kick over a pile of books.
It makes me feel frustrated and angry with myself for choosing to live in such a mess. Because it is a choice. And that can lead to self-pity and sadness and other negative feelings associated with poor mental health.
In recent years I have been decluttering: donating clothes and books to charity shops, recycling excess packaging, shredding old paperwork, and so on. I've got a long way to go still, but the progress I've made has already been beneficial to my mental health.
Every time that I let go of some belongings, I let go of some of those negative feelings associated with clutter. Every time I let go of an object that reminds me of a negative experience or person in my past, I let go of some of the pain triggered by that object. Bit by bit, I release them. So they are not holding me back any more.
Sometimes that moment of release is bittersweet; sweet relief for being free of the object and its emotional weight, and a swell of grief for the memories stirred up and a past life lost.
I'm not ashamed to say that I have sometimes felt emotional when decluttering. Yes, on occasion, I have shed a tear. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that's a healthy thing. Better out than in, some might say.
If you're interested in the mental health benefits of living with less, I recommend visiting The Minimalists website. Their podcast is well worth a listen.
Or visit the Mental Health Foundation website for general information about mental health.
(First published on my blog page10th May 2017)
Richard Pettitt, cartoonist.