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How decluttering your home can help create a calm mind

Photo: @FrancesNewmanPhotography

With many people spending more time in their households and working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, separating home and work life is becoming increasingly important.

Interiors therapist Suzanne Roynon explained to BBC Radio 5 Live Drive how creating a calm home environment can have a positive effect on our wellbeing.

What is interiors therapy?

Although interiors therapy is not a branch of psychological therapy, Suzanne told us how it uses ancient Chinese practices like Feng Shui, mentoring and life-coaching to help people to “cleanse their home emotionally and physically”.

“Whilst interiors therapy is relatively new, since lockdown people are realising the stresses and tension they used to blame on work or the commute, actually start at home.”
Suzanne Roynon - Interiors therapist

From guiding others through letting go of household items after a breakup, or separating their home and work lives, through to working with those who simply feel unhappy, Suzanne’s work has helped thousands of people.

"If your home feels uncomfortable all the time, those feelings become your normal… it means a part of you is always insecure and on edge," Suzanne says.

What is clutter?

From the empty Tupperware in your kitchen, through to the piles of paperwork on your table and the unopened gifts in your storage, what exactly counts as clutter?

Suzanne says: “It’s anything which doesn’t bring you happiness or doesn’t make you feel good.

“It essentially encompasses anything you don’t use, need or love and if it doesn’t serve you, it really has no right to be taking up valuable space in your home or in your life.”

She adds that interiors therapy is more than just decluttering, because it looks at people’s emotional attachments to their belongings.

“When I’m working with people, we look around the home and everything that is on display and we ask: 'Why is that there? How does that make you feel?'

“What I find quite often is that people have just got so immune to their home, that it’s like they are seeing it for the first time.”

Why can creating a calming home improve our mental health and wellbeing?

Photo: Getty Creative

With many homes now doubling up as workplaces, lots of people might be feeling a bit crowded in their living spaces at the moment.

But what impact does this have on our mind and mood?

Suzanne says that feeling safe, happy and relaxed in a home “is a basic human need” and explains some reasons why it can help our wellbeing.

• Everything you own has a purpose, it is used, needed or loved. The stress of trying to find missing items has gone because you know precisely where to find them.

• People tend to get on better in a relaxed home, communication is easier and anxiety, even depression can lift.

• Sleep improves because the bedroom is more restful and supportive. With enhanced sleep it’s easier to cope with everyday life.

• With fewer possessions to attract dust, air quality and oxygen levels increase throughout the home.

Top tips on decluttering your home

We all know motivating ourselves to tidy and declutter our belongings can be tricky, so how can we make things easier?

“It’s very much about noticing the gut reaction and acting on it.”
Suzanne Roynon – Interiors therapist

Suzanne’s three top tips on decluttering.

  1. Allocate time to declutter and start small - Suzanne says: “Set yourself a little challenge and say, ‘right what can I achieve in 20 minutes?’ That might be sorting out a drawer or a coat rack by the door… just those little wins will really help you move forward to do the rest.”
  2. Be ruthless - Be ruthless with ‘just in case’ items. Suzanne explained when tidying your home, ask yourself: “When did you last use this item? How much of your valuable space are they taking up? Would it be impossible to replace if a genuine need for it arose?”
  3. Look at the emotions each item generates - According to Suzanne, any item which makes people feel “sad, painful or negative, is not supporting wellbeing”, so she discusses with people why they are keeping household items and what the other options could be. She says: “Sometimes it’s easy to let the item go, alternatively it might be putting it out of sight for a couple of months and then review it. On the other hand, if the item makes you smile and bubble with happiness when you look at it, that’s something to keep and enjoy.”

Listen back to BBC Radio 5 Live Drive every weekday from 4pm on BBC Sounds.