5 things to declutter for a healthier life

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I’ve been decluttering like crazy for the last couple of weeks. Like all the other times I declutter, it amazes me how much stuff we can hoard over time, and how much we can be emotionally attached to them, including those that are clearly useless.

Decluttering is a rising global movement. More and more people start to be aware and appreciate the benefits of minimalistic lifestyle, including hoarders like me. Not only do clutters create space crisis, they also stir up feelings of anxiety and stress as our eyes roll over the crowded mess.

Economies of the developed countries are mostly driven by consumption nowadays. The more we consume, the better it is for the GDP. As such, excess consumption becomes a personal choice, as well as an encouraged lifestyle. The more we produce, the more we buy, the more we accumulate. Slowly and surely, we are surrounded by stuff that may have temporarily satisfied our desires, but clutters as junk in the long run.

Clutters don’t just exist in the physical space, they also exist in the digital world. In almost any case, the process to acquire things have been thoughtful made easier and easier as businesses compete with each other to win users and customers. As I enjoy the convenience of obtaining things, I also start to feel the pain and frustrations of its underlying effects:
– Extra space needed to store things.
– Extra time needed to sort through messes.
– More frustration accumulated

It’s easy to mistaken wants as needs, though everybody’s definition of wants and needs is different. I’m not going to comment too detailed on what should be kept as needs and what can be thrown away. But as I was entering adulthood, starting to build a career and a family too, I found certain things are definitely worth being gone for life’s greater good.

Junk food

It’s hard to give up snacks, I know. My son has reached the age of snack obsession. Chocolate, cookies, chips… he could easily eat them all day. When I look at how satisfying he is when he eats them, I start to realise our cravings for snacks is actually a joy that comes from the childhood. If parents are loose about them, snack consumption becomes a habit; if they are restricted, then they are a surprise every time we get some. Either way, it’s hard to break that addiction.

But as we get older, our body will start to lose the ability to process all the excess sugar, sodium, fat and preservatives in the snacks. This can cause excess calories being stored up in our body, leading to obesity and other health issues. In addition, our body will have limited capacity to absorb the healthy nutritions we really need once it’s overloaded with ‘junk’.

I find the best way to break off this addiction is to actually force yourself not seeing them. Stop buying them, and also declutter any you have stored up in your pantry. Not only is this good for our own health, it’s also a good habit to start building for the kids (if you have any like me). The earlier you help them to start self disciplining, the easier it will be for them to master as they grow up.

Video games

We have a lot of video games at home, Playstation, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo, etc. The video gaming industry was booming when the Millennials grew up and it soon became a big part of our daily entertainment. It provides virtual experience to fantasy worlds that we cannot, and will probably never, experience in the real world. This type of experience is thrilling, especially for some of us who might want to escape the reality. It also provides instantaneous results and response to our actions which in the real world may take years to obtain (for example, gaining coins straight away after defeating the enemies). This is satisfying because we don’t have to wait, like we need to in the real world for the goals we’re really trying to achieve.

But in the long run, indulging in video games is very harmful because:
– It diverts our focus from the real life, our goals and issues that we have to deal with.
– It takes our time and energy away from the important things we need to do in real life.
It’s easy to overspend time in the games, therefore the virtual gains we obtain are actually at the expense of losing in real life.

Again, the best way I find to stop playing is to force ourselves not seeing them. If decluttering by packing them away doesn’t do the job, and you still find yourself constantly reaching for the boxes, it’s better to give them away or sell them. This will ensure you’re stopping future time losses on the games. Selling them may also help you earn or recoup some of the money you have spent on them.

YouTube subscriptions

YouTube is steadily gaining popularity these days. More and more people are starting their own channels and gaining thousands and millions of subscribers. The more shocking facts are:
–  YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day.
–  Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
–  The total number of hours of video watched on YouTube each month is 3.25 billion.

You can read more about YouTube stats on this site here. Imagine if all these hours go towards doing something productive. Now I’m not saying all these are wasted hours, some people I’m sure are genuinely on YouTube to solve a problem or learn a new skill. But if you find yourself in a situation like I do sometimes, that I just watch things to chill time, stop! Unless you’re doing that to get a mental break from work, YouTube would just become another place to waste time and lose productivity.

Scrolling down my subscription list, I could clearly see so many that I now just click to chill time, like TV shows. They do trigger inspirations, but if inspirations don’t turn into some sort of action and output, they just become waste like any other things that grab our time.

Store memberships

Don’t we all just say “yes” to that question when we visit any shop – “Would you like to join our free membership?” Whether it’s the bricks and mortar or online stores, I’ve probably joined at least a thousand of them. Every day I receive tonnes of emails informing me of new sales or new collections in store. I have to admit, they do make me spend money that I wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen the ads.

Now I’m going through the emails I have received from each store and unsubscribing from most of them. I know by doing this I would not only save money to my pocket, I’d also be saving time to go through all the emails and emotional conflicts of deciding whether I should buy them or not. Without these distractions, I can focus a lot more on saving and earning money, instead of the other way.

Credit cards

I’m sure at some stage in everyone’s life, we just sign up to any credit card deals the banks are willing to offer us. When I was younger, it even felt pretty cool to have multiple credit cards in the wallet. It seriously made me feel rich to think that I had all these cards I could swipe, as if they were truly my own money.

Until I got into debt stress, I had to borrow money from family to repay back my credit card bills, I realised it’s not cool at all. I’ve since consolidated all my credit cards into one big personal loan, and have slowly paid it off over time. Now I only keep one credit card with sufficient limit for every day use and to earn rewards points. I find this is a much smarter way to use credit cards. Instead of being bulked down by debt, I feel a lot more confident and in control of my personal finance.

Whatever you’re thinking of decluttering, I’m sure it’s because you’ve felt the pain and frustrations of having too much. It’s like having a big meal that you can’t digest, so you just end up with stomachaches. It’s easy to have too much these days because every source is trying to feed us and ‘help’ us to consume. Knowing our limit becomes extra important when there is no end to what we can have. Sometimes indeed, the less we have, the more we gain.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions of any other things we should declutter to have a healthier life.
Keep calm and declutter on!

Shan

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