Birgit Bauer explains how organising her home has helped her mental wellbeing.
Living with MS can often mean constantly looking for new ways to save time and energy and prevent stress. Recently (after self-created chaos had cost me just over an hour looking for a book), I realised that something had to change.
While I am not a chaotic person, I had managed to collect a lot of stuff: tickets from concerts, clothes I'll never wear again, magazines I won't read and so on. All this extra stuff was weighing me down, not just the symptoms of my MS.
Luckily, this realisation to declutter coincided with learning about Japanese organising "guru" Marie Kondo. And the decision was clear: I needed to find my own system.
Marie Kondo's “KonMari” method is centred on one simple principle: "Keep only those things that bring you joy." Funnily enough, my grandmother used to say a similar thing: "Do you really need it, or are you simply keeping it for your own comfort?"
Leaving my comfort zone
There's no doubt that clutter can be comforting, but too much stuff in your house can be overwhelming and stressful. I've found that this can be especially draining for someone living with MS, like me, so I decided to take the leap and start decluttering.
Going through our clutter turned out to be a nice thing for my husband and I to do as a couple. We worked well together, and we now love the new, neater version of our lives and have grown to appreciate the things around us more.
I've also started to sell or donate clothes that I think I'll never wear again, and I have found that there are so many benefits to this! Other people can get some use out of my old clothes, and I get a happy feeling when I open my wardrobe to see only the items I love. It's also the satisfying sense of space and the ease of being able to quickly pick out a good outfit every morning.
Getting my documents in order
I've found that living with a chronic condition like MS means that it's really important to keep all my documents easily accessible and up-to-date.
By scanning important files and keeping them backed up on my computer, I can easily find my healthcare history and share it with my husband or carer. I've also realised that it's only necessary to keep paper copies of really important information, such as test results or MRI scans.
Keeping my finance and insurance files well organised is also something I try to do. Not only does this keep everything in place, but the safety in the knowledge that everything is organised can be good for reducing worry.
Decluttering takes time, but it's worth it
Living without a system can often be frustrating and time-consuming. And, in my opinion, it can even add to my MS symptoms and sometimes leave me feeling depressed.
If you're having trouble making decisions on what to keep when decluttering, I have found the following questions very helpful:
Be honest: is this item just a shopping fail?
Is it important or unnecessary?
Do you have more than one of these items?
Is it associated with bad memories?
Do you use it anymore?
Have you used it in the past 12 months?
I've discovered that having a tidy home helps to improve my mental wellbeing and leaves me with a sense of inner calm. Cleaning your home can feel like cleaning your life, and it's great to know that your things are organised!
And who doesn't want to feel calmer and more organised? So come on, it's time to find your new and improved comfort zone.
NPS-IE-NP-00313 July 2021