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  • Tammy Arlene

Too much stuff causes stress. Looking at a cluttered space can be frustrating. Planning to get rid of personal clutter can cause anxiety.


Although we know things need to be sorted and tidied, the task may seem like too much to handle. There are many “experts” out there that claim to have a magic solution to organizing and decluttering.


I’ve looked into many of these systems and know that there is no such magic. Some “experts” recommend containerizing everything. By following this system, we end up with cubbies and containers everywhere, and it’s difficult to keep things sorted put away on a regular basis.


Other “experts” recommend throwing almost everything you own away. The initial excitement of having a cleared space soon dissolves, regret and the urge to shop and fill the space up again may become overwhelming. Although both of these systems work for some, they don’t work for all of us. Eliminating clutter is a cycle that needs to be broken in a healthy way.

The desire for more “stuff” to fill our spaces is understandable. However, Jesus warned against this in Luke 12:15 (NKJV) And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in abundance of the things he possesses.”

The key to combatting clutter is to clear the mind first. I have discovered that unless I relieve my mind of negative self-talk and anxiety, I am not able to clear my space. I easily become overwhelmed and do nothing. On the other hand, if I am frustrated with the mess, I may hastily discarding things to create a temporary change, which is soon reversed.


Going to the store to buy a trove of containers to put individually sorted items is initially rewarding. It's also time consuming and the thrill is temporary. After all, buying unnecessary stuff is what got us cluttered in the first place! I end up not using most of these items after a week or so, and the containers become part of my mess. Can you relate?

There really is no quick fix! God didn’t design us to need so much stuff. Perhaps that is why we feel so stressed around clutter. Clutter causes confusion. Here are a couple verses to help sort this out.

1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV) Let all things be done decently and in order.

I have developed a healthy way to declutter that does not leave me feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It may not work for everyone. The biggest takeaway is to relax and tackle one space at a time. I hope this helps you. Because I am transparent, this image is NOT my closet! I wish it was. I am a work in progress. :)



CLEAR THE CLUTTER


Let’s take a deep breath and dive in. Literally.

Step 1:

Relaxing and relieving stress with a timed (I suggest 15 minutes) mindful activity such as crafting, word games, puzzles, or reading a positive blog, prior to taking on clutter can help make positive changes permanent. When this is followed by a small decluttering win, endorphins are released that help encourage you to keep moving forward.

Step 2:

Pick ONE small space to clean out. Take a before photo for your own use. A drawer, a closet, a cabinet, or under the sink works. Stick to this one project until it is cleared of clutter. After this space is completely done, move on to the next. Give yourself time to reset if you feel drained, returning to Step 1 between spaces if needed.

Step 3:

Remove everything from this ONE space and place it in a spot on the floor or in a box. As you are removing things, throw away obvious garbage. This includes scraps of paper, empty boxes, and containers. When the space is emptied, clean it as appropriate. I like to use a damp rag to clean dust or spills and spritz a little of my favorite essential oil blend around to freshen things up.


If you have duplicates of items or too many of one similar item, put extra ones aside and start to place items you regularly use back into the space.

Let’s talk about personal products. If duplicate items (like lotions or haircare products) can be combined, do that now and recycle these newly emptied containers.

When it comes to clothes, pick out seven to ten items in each category that you use regularly (t-shirts/tank tops/sweaters/dress clothes/jeans/pants/shorts/pajamas/exercise clothes/undies/socks/etc.) Put clothing items you don’t wear because they are uncomfortable or don’t fit in a bag to donate to charity. Torn or damaged clothing can be recycled (this is really a thing!) or thrown away. Organize, fold and hang your seven to ten group and put them away neatly. Look at all the extra space you have now! Clothing items that are left after sorting and picking your seven to ten can go into a box that should be appropriately labeled for future personal shopping sprees. This will save you from unnecessary spending and it will be fun to browse your own “store” when you need to replenish items that are used up or worn out. I am often amazed at the new clothes and products I find when I look in my box. This will save stress and money. Plus, there is no regret over throwing things out that you will eventually use. That’s a win-win-win, if you ask me. The boxes of extra things can go in a newly opened space in your closet, or maybe you can fit it under your bed. Don’t put them too far out of sight though, or you may forget about them.

Step 4:

Immediately after decluttering a space, take an after picture and compare it to how things looked before you started. Take out the trash and bring your donate items to the nearest charity. Treat yourself to a relaxing break to celebrate your accomplishment. You did it!

This same strategy can be applied to desks, office supply cabinets, kitchen cabinets and "junk" drawers. Tackle one space at a time, and you will be amazed at your progress. Looking back on your before and after photos will provide additional motivation. If you are feeling brave, send them to me! I'd love to see your progress.

I recently found a new handy option for keeping shirts and other clothes wrinkle free. These stackable trays are amazing and easy to use. I love them.


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You can also skip this purchase, save money, and fold or “file” your clothes now that you have less to put in your closet and drawers. If you need examples of how to file clothes, let me know. I’d be happy to share how I’ve done this.

Some find “capsule” wardrobes fun and helpful. There are many videos and articles on the internet that will help you organize clothes you already have.

  • Tammy Arlene

Social media and a 24 hour noisy news cycle can cause both physical and emotional stress. We face many legitimate “unknowns” today. The Covid-19 pandemic, ongoing election turmoil, negative social media and news channels buzzing with nonstop controversy are hard to avoid.

Let’s take a deep breath together and decide what things we can control versus things we cannot. Something we can control is nonstop chiming from social media on our phones. Alerts from our “friends” on various platforms can interrupt focus and disturb our peace of mind. It can feel rewarding to know that people are talking about us, tagging us, and posting about their new hairstyle or lunch selection. They may also be posting things that can cause fear or stress. Don’t get me started on the outright ugly comments some people make! It is distracting and annoying. In times of stress, it’s best to keep in mind that these alerts do not need immediate attention, and much of the time, they don’t deserve our attention at all. The dinging can be easily disabled in settings. Perhaps scheduling an hour (or less) each day to scroll through social media will help ease tension if you feel the need to check in. It may help quiet negative chaos during the day and help you focus on what truly needs to get done. I am working on this myself. It’s so easy to pick up the phone the minute a notification comes in, I tap a quick response, and before long I am immersed in scrolling, commenting, and not getting important things done. This equals more stress!

With the current twenty-four hour news cycle, the same stories “break” all day long. This is good and bad. The bad is the alarms are designed to instantly catch our attention, promote fear, and startle us into a state of anxiety. The good part is that these same “urgent” stories cycle around all day, and sometimes for days on end so we aren’t missing much if we catch it later. Truth is, much of this stuff is not even urgent or important. Checking in on news headlines for five to ten minutes a day can relieve stress.


Take time for you. Let’s try it together.

God’s word assures us that we need not be afraid. Let’s read about this together:

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

“Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”

We’ll face stressful situations, however, as believers, we are never alone.

This last phrase is repeated as confirmation in Isaiah 41:13 (NKJV)

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold our right hand.

Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”

I don’t know about you, but it brings me comfort to know that God is holding my hand, especially in these trying times.


A question I've heard is: "What if I live with someone who has the news on all the time?"

May I suggest a set of noise canceling headphones? The ones I have are Bose and I've found them to be incredibly comfortable and helpful when there is background noise I can't control or avoid. There are plenty of other options in various price ranges.

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  • Tammy Arlene

When you think of clutter, does your mind go to the mess on the counter?


Your nightstand?


Or the hidden area under the sink?


Is your clutter tucked away neatly, or out in the open?


It’s true, when we think of clutter, we usually think of physical objects. Emotional clutter is just as prevalent. Today let’s talk about negative self-talk.


Do you think negatively about yourself? Does your mind automatically shift to critical mode when you make a mistake or forget something?


You may not even realize these thoughts when they occur. Sometimes our mind repeats things that we’ve heard about ourselves, and somehow, we believe these things to be true. I was talking with a friend recently, and we discussed how quickly we say, either in our minds or, worse, out loud, “I’m so stupid” or “I look terrible”! Unconsciously, we are affirming negative things, lies about ourselves that create mental clutter and emotional stress. We eventually believe these thoughts to be true. They are not. These thoughts are lies! Let’s break this habit together.

According to God’s word, Philippians 4:8 (NIV) “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friend, once we recognize these untrue automatic thoughts, we can reframe them and begin to work on the physical clutter in our lives. Let’s focus on what is right, pure and lovely – and that is you.

Bonus:

I’ll share something I learned about this here as well as introduce you to a helpful book that I discovered along the way. Link to grab your copy of Renee Vidor’s book here:


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How we imagine ourselves directly affects how we present ourselves to others. Renee Vidor, in her book, Measuring Up, How to Win in a World of Comparison, teaches us that “[w]hen Comparison is in charge it causes emotional pain, tension, and adverse side effects” (p. 13). This pain can often result in negative self-image and toxic self-talk. This internal dialogue may be a result of how others have treated us, our own internal feelings of not measuring up to certain worldly standards, or, it could be a habit developed to protect us from life’s certain disappointments. Instead of using discouraging events as elements of growth, we may program our brains to believe we cannot succeed because we are not enough, don’t have enough, or are not worthy of success because of our past. Have you even felt sad or defeated for no apparent reason? Could it be that negative and untrue self-talk has invisibly taken over who you truly are designed to be? Let’s find out together with a simple exercise.

This exercise, coupled with Renee’s book and coaching, can help you develop a more positive outlook! Taken seriously over the course of 5 consecutive days, it may be just the tool you need to help get you back on track if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with negativity, depression, or feeling defeated. If used over a series of days, listing and considering what your internal thought process is may help recognize and replace the lies we unconsciously tell ourselves with the true gifts and talents that only you, my friend, possess.

Remember, this assignment is for you, and your eyes only (unless you decide to share). Honesty is key. It can be done at the end of each day or printed and filled in throughout the day as thoughts occur to you. Take a notebook and divide the page in half. Dump negative self-talk thoughts in the left column and think about them logically. In the right column, rewrite the thought in a positive way. At the end of the day, set a timer for 5 minutes and journal how you feel about the process.

I’ll be transparent and share an example from my list.

Self – Concept/First Thoughts Truth/Second Thoughts

(How we instantly perceive ourselves) (How we really are)


I never finish anything, that is why I By making time to create an

am such a failure at everything I do organized task list, I am becoming

more productive and finishing what

I start

What are your thoughts?

GET IN TOUCH

Address: 2532 N 4th Street, PMB 556
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Email:  contact@tammyarlene.com

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