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9 Ways to Organize Your Entire Life Right Now

9 Ways to Organize Your Entire Life Right Now

By Kate Rockwood, Prevention

Detoxing can mean more than just drinking green juices and taking steam baths. When you clear away the things taking up too much space in your home and your mind, you’ll find more calm—and better health. Here are some of the best strategies to help declutter your life to create more room for ease and well-being:

HOW TO DETOX YOUR SPACE

That stack of mail in the kitchen, the pile of shoes by the door, and the bathroom overrun with half-used bath products are messing with your mood. Disorder can seriously stress you out, and studies have linked cluttered environments to lower self-control, which can affect physical health. Don’t try to tackle the entire house at once—you’re unlikely to get everything done, which can leave you exhausted and disheartened. These tips can help you make dents in the chaos:

Try the 20/10 Trick.

Pick one messy area of your home, snap a before photo, then devote 20 minutes to straightening and cleaning. When the timer dings, force yourself to stop for at least 10 minutes (or for the day, if you feel like it!). Swapping open-ended cleaning sessions for a specific time window is less overwhelming, says Rachel Hoffman, author of Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess. And comparing the before photo to how the room looks post-cleaning is hard proof that a little can go a long way. Consider investing in a hassle-free cleaning tool like a cordless stick vacuum from Dyson or a simple Swiffer mop with wet and dry disposable cleaning pads.

Clean up your cleaners.

You want to keep your space spick-and-span without making yourself sick in the process. Many conventional cleaners can exacerbate respiratory conditions, trigger headaches or skin irritation, and pose other health hazards, says Phil Brown, Ph.D., director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University in Boston.

Revamp the kitchen.

There really is something to the old adage “Out of sight, out of mind,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., author of The Superfood Swap. So hide that cookie jar and set out a giant fruit bowl instead—you’ll be more likely to reach for an apple or a banana next time you’re feeling peckish. Take the same approach to your pantry: Move healthy staples like quinoa, nuts, and canned beans to the front of eye-level shelves and put unhealthier snacks and sweets on the top shelf, where you’ll have to work harder to get to them.


HOW TO DETOX YOUR MIND

A recent Cigna survey showed that nearly half of Americans felt lonely, and the American Psychiatric Association found that almost 40 percent of Americans were more anxious than they had been the year before. Those mental states can affect your physical state too, and the stress hormone cortisol comes into play—both chronic loneliness and anxiety can boost cortisol levels. Chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Talking with a therapist is a good option for many people, but if you’re looking for more of a DIY mental reset, give the following tips a shot.

Fill your calendar.

Technology helps keep us connected, but it’s not a replacement for in-person interaction, says Mark Setton, co-founder of The Pursuit of Happiness, a psychology nonprofit. Schedule a standing lunch date with a friend, join a book club, or volunteer. In a study of nearly 6,000 adults 51 and older, volunteering for two hours a week resulted in reduced feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Browse volunteermatch.org to find local opportunities that fit your interests or skill set.

Organize your anxieties.

If you’re the definition of a worrywart, try this two-pronged approach from Robert Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and author of The Worry Cure. First, jot down specific worries that flit through your mind on repeat. Then dedicate a specific time in your schedule to thinking about the list of thoughts; this can help keep them from hijacking your brain all day, and when the time to focus on them rolls around, you may even realize they no longer bother you, Leahy says.

Break a sweat.

Working out is great for physical health, but it may also be just the thing to help you bust through a mental funk. A meta-analysis of more than 30 studies found that exercise was nearly as effective as medication or psychotherapy at lifting mild symptoms of depression.


HOW TO DETOX YOUR PHONE

The average U.S. adult spends a little over 16 hours a week on his or her phone. Why is this troublesome? Studies show high phone use to be associated with loneliness and depression, poor sleep quality, and physical ailments such as eyestrain, sore thumbs, poor posture, and an achy back. Luckily, turning down the intensity of your phone use doesn’t have to mean going cold turkey or reinstalling a landline. In fact, you’ll have more success if you start with small changes, says Larry Rosen, Ph.D., a research psychologist who focuses on phone behavior. These are some good first steps:
 

Tweak the environment.

If mealtimes are your weakest moments, have everyone dump their devices in a “phone bowl” in another room before sitting down. To break your phone-before-bed habit (studies show that the blue light emitted by your screen may alter levels of the sleepy time hormone melatonin, making it harder for you to nod off at night), try moving your charger to another room so your phone never even gets close to your bed, suggests Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up With Your Phone.

Quiet the alerts.

When your phone is constantly beeping, buzzing, and lighting up with every social media post or news alert, it’s hard to let it fade into the background. What’s more, these constant alerts can cause levels of cortisol to spike, once again upping your risk for serious health conditions in the long run. “Push notifications create a false sense of urgency,” Rosen says. Keep your text message and voice mail prompts on, but turn all other alerts off.

Set a time limit.

For people accustomed to always having their phones within arm’s reach, changing that modus operandi can trigger anxiety, says Rosen. Wean yourself off yours by designating 15 minutes as phone-free time during the periods of the day when you use it most. Tack on additional minutes as your brain gets used to not checking it so often.



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