We think of many things when we hear this phrase.  Massage, yoga, a hot bath, an evening reading beside a fire (or candle), watching a movie, just to name a few.   

Peggy DeLong, PsyD, an author and psychologist says this, “Self-care is the practice of engaging in health-promoting thoughts and behaviors, as well as cultivating feelings that are beneficial for well- being.” 

Decluttering and organizing may not be the first thing we think of when we read that definition.  However, I have seen first-hand that these tasks are most definitely self-care.  My typical client calls or emails me and starts the conversation with some or all of these words or phrases: 

-I am overwhelmed 

-Things are out of control 

-I am so embarrassed 

-I don’t know where to start 

-It has taken me months to get the nerve to call you


pile of clothes

I need help!


When we begin our first session, their body language reflects the above sentiments.  But…as we begin working, things change.  The mood lightens, the body lightens, the space lightens.  I have seen this over and over.  As I first began noticing this, I was more aware than ever that my services were truly a “Key to Living Light.” 

I also started reading articles about self-care.  MyFitnessPal sends great emails to encourage health and wellness.  I love these messages.  They often contain healthy recipes and exercise tips.  Recently, they sent “10 Self-Care Practices That Cultivate Positive Emotions.” 

Number 8 . “Clear Out Clutter That’s Weighing You Down.  For many people, discarding physical clutter helps alleviate mental clutter too.  Start small like that junk drawer and work up to bigger projects like a closet of the garage.”  

Check out the article to read the rest. 

Oprah’s 40 Self-Care Tips to Boost Your Mental Health include: 

Number 27: “Spend 10 Minutes a Day Decluttering.” 

It goes on to say, “Research shows that clutter increases our cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is a risk factor for many illnesses), reduces creativity and focus, and even can make us more sensitive to pain.  It’s not your imagination that you are more relaxed in a clutter-free environment.  Set a timer for just five minutes and get busy.” 

Number 34: “Donate.” 

“Donating clothes, books, nonperishable items, you name it, will not only clear your space of unnecessary items, but will help someone else in need.  Plus, being altruistic has been linked to notable health benefits, like lowering your blood sugar, easing depression, and improving your mood.” 


So, we see that decluttering and organizing our spaces may have positive effects on our mental and physical health.  It makes us calmer and in control.  But, how to stay calm and in control when we feel out of control and overwhelmed?? 

In my blog post, “Narrow your Focus”, I offer the following tips: 


  1. Identify the tasks you want to accomplish. Do a “mind dump”. Creating a list is a great start.  But it is also good to identify timelines.  Break down tasks by monthly, weekly, and even daily goals.  These need to be flexible of course. But they will give you a general idea of where you want to go and how fast.
  2.  Prioritize. I ask clients to tell me which space bothers them the most.  That’s where we begin!  From there, assign your other tasks a priority n Again, these priorities may change as things proceed.
  3.  Take your number one priority and break it down further.  For instance, if the basement is where you want to start, identify which space in the basement you will work on first.  This step is critical.  It is unlikely you will finish a space this large in one session.  In order to feel a sense of accomplishment and not get discouraged, refining the space is very important.
  4.  Before beginning a task, prepare yourself.  Get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy meal, drink plenty of water throughout the project.  Take breaks, sit down and relax at regular intervals.
  5. Eat the frog”. In other words, do the tasks you dread most first, when your energy is highest.
  6.  Be satisfied with “good enough”.  I find things get moved, then moved again, and again.  You must start somewhere.  Don’t expect perfection, or you may just end up throwing up your hands in frustration. 

The most important thing to remember is to do something.  Done beat perfect, every time! There is no “perfect” way to declutter and organize.  You have to start with what feels right to you, then adjust as needed. Refer to my blog post on this. 

clean environment

Finally, consider hiring a Professional Organizer to help with this aspect of self-care.  Here are some of the benefits you will reap from this type of help: 

-A time will be scheduled to get the work done.  Without doing this, it will continue to be pushed back in your schedule again and again. 

– A trained professional with experience.

-An expert on products available in the marketplace, so you don’t have to figure it all out. 

-A person with patience, in a situation where you have none. 

-A fresh set of fresh eyes.  Sometimes a completely new solution will be just the thing you need.   

Whatever you do, it is crucial to take care of yourself.  Without self-care, you will be of little value to anyone else.   

Cheers to that!