As most of you know, I enjoy winter (ice fishing!), personally, but I know that's not the case for everyone. Winters up here in the Midwest can be hard to handle, not just for the sometimes extreme temperatures, but also for the darkness. My southern friends don't put much thought into this aspect of winter until they change latitudes-- one transplant in particular reported playing disc golf and taking family evening walks during Christmas holidays in Texas; it took her a while to make the mental connection between winter and darkness and staying indoors once she moved up to Minnesota as an adult. She couldn't figure out why she felt so depressed and claustrophobic-- she'd always enjoyed the idea of snow, after all!
It turns out that Minneapolis gets about an hour less daylight than Dallas during the winter months, give or take a few minutes, and that was enough to make a big difference to her state of mind.
For fun, you can use this easy tool to look up daylight amounts in any nation/worldwide location, if you're curious: Duration of Daylight/Darkness Table for One Year.
We can't do much about the darkness, of course (my Texas friend bought a "Happy Lamp" to supplement her shortened daylight, and she says it helps), but studies show that other environmental factors do play a role in our mood-- some of those are more within our control. As a real estate agent, I spend a lot of time counseling clients to clear up home clutter in order to attract more buyers to their listing.
However, it seems that selling your house isn't the only good reason to declutter! If you need an added incentive to move your home from "tired" to "inspiring," this recent article from author Lisa Kaplan Gordon may provide just the boost you need. Give me a call when you're done and we can get that home on the market (February is a great time, if you want to get a jump on the spring rush), or else just sit back and enjoy your rejuvenated outlook on life!
The Link Between Clutter and Depression
It’s been proven. Clutter is a bummer — literally.
Dishes in the sink, toys throughout the house, stuff covering every flat surface; this clutter not only makes our homes look bad, it makes us feel bad, too.
At least that’s what researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) discovered when they explored in real time the relationship between 32 California families and the objects in their homes. The resulting book, “Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century,” is a rare look at how middle-class Americans use the space in their homes and interact with the things they accumulate over a lifetime.
Our over-worked closets are overflowing with things we rarely touch.
It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:
♦ A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects.The more stuff, the more stress women feel. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem bothered by mess, which accounts for tensions between tidy wives and their clutter bug hubbies.
♦ Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.
♦ Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pitching objects. They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.
♦ Although U.S. consumers bear only 3% of the world’s children, we buy 40% of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.
Although “Life At Home” documents the clutter problem, the book offers no solutions. But there are some simple things you can do to de-clutter your home and raise your spirits.
1. Adopt the Rule of Five
Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.
2. Be Ruthless About Your Kitchen Sink
Pledge to clear and clean your kitchen sink every day. It takes a couple of seconds more to place a dish in the dishwasher than dump it in the sink. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety.
3. Put Photos Away
Return to yesteryear when only photos of ancestors or weddings earned a place. Put snapshots in a family album, which will immediately de-clutter many flat surfaces.
4. Unburden Your Refrigerator Door
Researchers found a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter throughout the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places.
5. Test Whether You'll Miss It
Fill a box with items you don’t love or use. Seal the box and place it in a closet. If you haven’t opened the box in a year, donate it (unopened!) to charity.
For more ideas, visit Lisa Kaplan Gordon's article and its related links here.
Posted by L. Lathrop for Jim Burns