Can decluttering your home make you happier?
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With a decluttered home comes a decluttered mind, so the experts tell us.
And decluttering expert Marie Kondo has certainly made many of us change our habits with her books and TV show, ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ on Netflix, while her cleaning counterpart, Mrs Hinch, has got many of us scrubbing our houses from top to bottom.
But can a clean and tidy home really help make you happier?
Berkhamsted-based interiors therapist Suzanne Roynon believes so – and she takes it a step further by combining decluttering with the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to bring health and harmony into your home.
‘It’s obvious that having a clean, clear house can help your mind feel cleaner and clearer than if you live in a terrible mess,’ Suzanne says. ‘But there’s more to it than that.’
Feng shui is based on the theory that your home is divided into different areas. Each area represents a different part of your life, and if you can get those areas right, then you can sort out any problems.
‘Living among clutter can cause stress, but it can also create emotional and relationship problems, health problems and weight gain, among many other things,’ says Suzanne.
‘By getting rid of unwanted and unused items, you can begin to regain control over your life.’
Suzanne uses a system which includes decluttering, organisation, feng shui and guidance for moving forward.
‘I’ve seen it work with so many people, it’s amazing,’ she says.
So when Suzanne offered me the chance to have a session with her, I couldn’t turn it down. Here’s how we got on.
The first thing Suzanne did was make a map of my house. According to the laws of feng shui, every house is divided into different sections called a bagua, which means that each part of the house represents a different aspect of your life. However, when your house isn’t a perfect square or rectangle, as mine isn’t, it needs to be worked out according to the compass. This meant that my house was missing a large part of the knowledge section. Explains a lot!
Next she looked around my house and made notes, then we went round together and discussed things that might be affecting my life, and what I could do to improve them.
They included certain pictures on the walls, a pair of silver fighting cockerels in the living room and a spiky clock above the bed that could interrupt sleep.
She also suggested hanging crystal faceted balls in the doorway to improve the knowledge and wealth area that was missing.
One of my main objectives was to see whether Suzanne could help me with a work issue; getting a good book deal for my next novel, which was, at the time of writing, out with publishers hoping to sell.
In my office Suzanne suggested moving a few things around to increase and improve the energy. She also suggested I make a mock-up of my new book with a ‘Sunday Times Bestseller’ logo on it and place it in a frame on the windowsill – my fame and recognition area. I did it the moment she’d left; what did I have to lose?
Much of the work Suzanne does is about decluttering. Clutter, she explains, can prevent positive energy from getting in. The easiest place to start decluttering is usually the wardrobes – so that’s where we began.
First we pulled everything out. And I mean everything. The pile on the bed was ridiculous. Then we started going through things one by one. I had to decide whether each item was something that made me happy, that I loved and that served a purpose. If not, it went out.
There was no pressure and, at first, I was reluctant to chuck too much out, but as the charity shop pile began to grow it felt strangely cathartic. A dress I liked once but makes me feel frumpy? Charity shop. Favourite top with a hole in it? Bin. And so on.
As I did this, Suzanne was on her knees on the bedroom floor with all the items I’d chosen to keep, folding them neatly back into the drawers Marie Kondo-style, while dodging old pairs of tights and t-shirts flying across the room.
The charity shop pile was so enormous by the end that I wondered how on earth it had all fitted into my wardrobe!
Normally after a clearout I keep piles of clothes to see whether friends want them. Not this time.
‘You need to get rid of everything straight away, otherwise you’ll put loads back ‘just in case’ (which I’m the queen of!),’ explained Suzanne. And so we bagged everything up and took six bags to the Cancer Research shop, and four to the dump.
Now, when I opened my wardrobe doors, I could find my clothes – and they were things I actually wanted to wear because I’d chosen to keep them! It felt surprisingly good.
The clutter was gone from there – and it inspired me to get on with the rest of the house, which I’m slowly working through.
Whether the changes in the office worked remains to be seen – but watch this space!
Suzanne’s website can be found at www.clutterfree.coach.