Moving is a part of life. At one season or another in our lives, most people have moved out of their homes and created a new home elsewhere. What is always astounding is no matter how long you have lived somewhere it is easy to accumulate a lot of stuff. Clothing, trinkets, boxes and books fill our closets and shelves over time. Although they may collect dust, it can be extremely emotional to part with items that have sentimental value or spark a fond memory. So why is it so hard to part with that encyclopedia collection you may ask? Believe it or not, there’s actually science behind the emotion associated with detachment.
According to a study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine, many people can experience anguish and pain when letting go of clutter. They measured this by tracking the brain activity of a group of participants with a tendency to hoard. It showed increased activity in two regions of the brain when sorting through their keepsakes.
There are many reasons why we hold onto things we don’t necessarily need. For one, it can be a connection to memories or people who have passed on. Maybe holding onto certain items takes you back to a previous version of yourself or a time in your life that was easier. Keeping things that are “still good” with the idea that at some point you or someone you know may need it, is a popular school of thought as well. Or maybe you believe these items have a monetary value and for that reason, you feel you cannot part with them.
To keep or not to keep!
Whatever the reasoning, downsizing for a move can be overwhelming when we have too much stuff. It can even prohibit a very necessary move when it comes to transitioning to a senior living environment, for example. Many senior citizens cannot fathom what they will do with all of their stuff when it’s time to move, but realistically, the “stuff” they are referring to is most likely not being used on a daily or even yearly basis. These items have filled their homes over the years and the thought of purging is overwhelming maybe frightening and even painful. These items can also become a mental anchor which holds the person to their home causing them to delay a move that may be very necessary for those who can no longer manage the upkeep of a house or for whom living alone is dangerous.
So we know we have to downsize, but how do we do it?
Here are some tips to help move forward with a move and not letting our “stuff” take control of our lives.
1.) Measure it up –Have you found a new place to live? If so, get the dimensions of the new apartment home and realistically plan what can fit. Operating within realistic boundaries is a great start!
2.) If you don’t use it, lose it. – According to Marie Kondo, Japanese Organizing Consultant, we should focus on keeping things that speak to our heart and it is healthy to discard the rest.
3.) Put it in a box – It is possible to simplify the number of things you have and still honor the memories that are dear too you. Create a memory box and fill it with those sweet mementoes like photos, an airline ticket from a favorite trip, your high school class ring, and more. But if it doesn’t fit in the box, it gets donated or passed on to a loved one.
4.) Set a timeline – working on a schedule is always a more effective use of your time. Maybe tackling one room each day until the home is complete is a great way to take a project that seems overwhelming and turn it into something more manageable.
5.) Organize your clothes seasonally — Only have clothes in your closet for the current season to not only keep the amount of clothing realistic but also to keep your closet less packed. Organize the rest of the seasons apparel and store each in its own bin. These bins can be stored creatively under a bed or high on a shelf.
6.) Ask for help – whether you call in that family member or friend that has great organizational skills or even hire an organizing or downsizing specialist, it’s OK to have a fresh set of eyes and perspectives when evaluating what to keep and what to donate.
7.) Don’t wait – It is tempting to push the inevitable aside, but when you are a part of this process in a proactive way, you can respect the decision to move and in turn you will be happier once the move has been made.
What will all of this do to help me with my move?
Organizing and purging unwanted and unneeded things will allow new possibilities into your life. You now have space to invest in relationships. Having the things at your fingertips that you know serve a purpose will be gratifying. You will naturally feel more at ease knowing each item of clothing in your closet is one that you cherish and you will feel less overwhelmed by the stacks of papers that had been sitting on your desk.
Investing in yourself in this way will also save you time and money! Paying for storage units and moving costs quickly adds up when these dollars can be put toward travel or entertainment.
So when packing for a move and entering a new phase of your life, take what’s important and preserve what is close to your heart. It’s freeing to say goodbye to less important things that have piled up over the years and give yourself the gift of the luxury of living in a clutter free and simplified environment.