Mindful De-Cluttering: How to Reduce Stress from Mess

Ever at home, look around, and get freaked out by the mess? Cleaning is one thing, but clutter is another. Mindful de-cluttering will reduce your stress, actually bring you joy—and here’s how to do it…

Make a Date

The first thing necessary is to make time to face your belongings (some of which you forgot you even had.) You don’t need as much time as you think. Don’t put it off because you’re afraid it will take hours.

Plan to tackle one small area at a time. Put aside one hour. You can look at your calendar and make a date for your de-cluttering session. If you’re on a deadline, you’ll get more done than if you put aside an entire day. Get as much done as possible in that time span, and then make a new date for your next session.

Mindful Move-Along

In the time you set aside, try not to let anything interrupt you. Let calls go to voicemail and answer texts after your hour is up. This is one important element of mindfulness in this mission.

Mindful anything requires your complete focus. If you truly want to de-clutter (which you should to reduce your stress levels) then you have to be contemplative and truthful with yourself as you peruse your items. Which ones will stay, and which will go?

Here are a few examples of how to approach your de-cluttering project.

The Kitchen

Let’s, for example, use one of our hours on the refrigerator. Looking at the front of it—is it covered with magnets, photos, fingerprints, and school papers? Take everything off. Only put up what you absolutely want to look at everyday. Papers should go in an office space or the information placed in an app on your phone.

Check out the inside of the fridge. Are there bottles of old salad dressing that you’ll never use? Dump them. Throw out anything spoiled, expired, or that you know you’ll never use. You won’t miss it. Give good stuff to the food bank if you won’t use it.

How about that end drawer over from the silverware? That’s right, the one that’s so full it gets stuck, and you can’t open it. Rubber bands, tacks, notepaper, pens from the mechanic, and keys you have no idea to what they belong. Empty it.

Keep only what works and what you’ll absolutely need. Toss broken things you know you’ll never get around to fixing. Numbers on scraps of paper can go in your phone. This is going to be so much fun!

The Bedroom

Check out your clothes closet. Are there pants that don’t fit and never will again? How about that blouse you wouldn’t be caught dead in. Donate them. Get rid of old, smelly shoes. The really cool part of this session is that you will get to know which clothes you really love. Then, wear them. No one sees them in the closet. Enjoy the items you adore!

The Bathroom

How many lipsticks do you have that have changed color from time erosion? There’s a bottle of lotion with a squirt left that’s so old it’s hardened. Have you taken a whiff of that perfume your grandmother gave you? Would you really wear it and purposefully want to smell that way? Are there more than 10 magazines by the toilet? Keeping these things around create clutter and brain chaos whether you think so or not.

Mindful Honesty

Don’t be afraid to look at things around the house and admit you don’t want to look at them. Everything (if there’s clutter) can’t be your favorite. However, you can, over the course of time, reclaim your space. Endeavor it to be rich with things you only need or absolutely love. All of the rest can fall by the wayside and bring you the lightness you need and deserve. Happy de-cluttering!


Lost Your Motivation? Here’s How to Find It

There are times in life when we don’t feel as if we are as productive as we could be. There are things we want, but sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation to take action. Below are some suggestions on ways to find motivation in your everyday life and at work.

What is Motivation?

As humans, we have a reason for every time we take an action. That “reason”, that “why” we do anything is called the motivator. We are moved to action, and motivation is the core of that action.

For example, if you start running away from a swarm of bees, running is your action and fear is your motivation. If you spend money on a lottery ticket, winning money is your motivation. If you exercise, an endorphin rush or the desire to lose weight may be your motivation.

What all of these examples have in common, along with any motivators, is that they are compelled by feelings. The way our brains are structured, feelings almost always trump thoughts.

What Motivates You?

What motivates you will be specific to what provides you with a compelling feeling. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Switch, talk about focusing on emotions. How you feel can determine your level of motivation.

If you’re feeling very hungry, that may be your motivation to eat. If you’re excited about getting a paycheck, that may be your “why” you go to work. When you begin to understand your feelings and what can motivate you, you may be more apt to take action.

John O’Leary, in his book On Fire, talks about his motivation to learn how to write with no hands. At nine years old, John was in a fire that burned 100% of his body. His willpower kept him alive and sent him home from the hospital after five months of medical treatment.

Once home, his mom offered, “John, if you learn how to write, you can go back to school!” That feeling did not excite John. Hence, that was not a particularly great motivator. He was not motivated to write.

However, a visit from John’s hero, American sportscaster Jack Buck, made a different impression. Mr. Buck brought John a signed baseball from a player on the St. Louis Cardinals. He then offered, “If you write this player a thank you note, I’m sure he will send you another ball.”

In two weeks, John figured out to write with no hands, and sure enough another baseball arrived by mail. He continued to write notes. And he continued to collect baseballs. His collection finally grew to 60.

What excited John (what connecting to “feeling”) is what became the motivator.

Feeling Good

A psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Fredrickson, writes that positive emotions compel individuals to take action. Her definition of positive feelings include: joy, contentment and love. Her belief and research show that through mindfulness, kindness, and even meditation, people can increase their level of positivity; thus, creating motivation.

Finding meaning in what we do can also be a valuable motivator. In his Ted Talk seminar, Dan Ariely talks about how when people feel they have a “purpose,” they are more apt to take action. Feeling value in what you are about to partake in can be a great motivator.


Finding ways to reward yourself for tasks completed is an important element in adding to your feelings of success. In the workplace, reward plays a big part in encouraging positive behavior and motivating employees. Reward also plays a large part in motivating students.

Understanding what compels you emotionally may bring you closer to an understanding of what can motivate you. And in learning what motivates you, you may find yourself feeling more productive, fulfilled, and overall more joyous.


Dr. Dave Campbell Commentary:

Everyone has their own motivating factors, triggers or events. For me, as a physician and humanitarian, our MSNBC Morning Joe medical reporting trip to the impoverished island country of Haiti, just after category 4 Hurricane Matthew devastated the homes, crops, towns and villages in 2016 was a life-changing journey. Then to read about Dr. Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder clinched it for me.  Dr. Farmer continues to dedicate his life as a physician to treating the poorest of the poor. His altruism is a beacon for all physicians that went into the practice of medicine to help others. Dr. Farmer has triggered and motivated me to practice medicine with the utmost safety, consideration and compassion, and highest quality.

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