Declutter Your Space. Declutter Your Mind.by Elise Museles
We all have it, and let’s be honest: it’s fun to acquire new clothes, kitchen gadgets, and tech. But what happens when all that fun “stuff” starts to weigh you down? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a look around you. Are your drawers stuffed to bursting? Can you easily find your favorite pair of jeans or the locket that your grandmother gave you? Where did you put that new immersion blender? Reducing and simplifying the amount of “stuff” around you can make a major difference in your emotional well-being.
Although we usually think of spring as the natural time to clean out what no longer serves us, any time of year – especially the change of seasons – is a good opportunity to let go of the old and make room for the new. And while it’s challenging to let go of things in our homes, our external environments frequently mirror our internal environments, so keeping it tidy can only help you feel calmer and more composed.
Let’s start with my own “stuff”: if my kitchen is any indication of my mental state, I’m overflowing with wooden spoons and mismatched mugs. And even though I can play the ol’ Busy Card as an excuse, recently, I decided to set aside an afternoon (or three or four!) to cleanse and de-clutter my life, starting with my kitchen. The overstuffed cabinets were only serving to make me even more stressed, when what I really needed was a calm and soothing environment.
Three hours and several giveaway bags later, my kitchen – and I! – now feel like better, clearer, calmer versions of ourselves. Cooking and prepping is finally easy and fun again. (And finding the right spice is no longer a 15-minute endeavor…)
Here are seven things I did to make my kitchen a healthier, more centering place to be.
1. Arrange your kitchen to fit the way you use it
I’m not much of a baker, so I moved my flours, sweeteners and muffin pans into the cupboard above the refrigerator. I use my spiralizer, microplane, blender, and food processor multiple times a day, so I made sure they were easily accessible. I usually add lots of anti-inflammatory spices and heart-healthy oils while I’m whipping up lattes on the stove and roasting veggies in the oven, so I moved those closer to the cooktop. I rarely use my toaster right now, so away it went away—freeing up counter space.
2. Get rid of duplicates
Do you have two vegetable peelers, three garlic presses, and 26 dish towels? Me, too. I bet your kitchen drawers would be easier to open if you winnowed that down a bit…
3. Toss or donate the food you don’t like or know you’ll never use
Maybe you bought a $25 jar of protein powder before you realized your body doesn’t actually like whey. Or you purchased three bags of dried chickpeas because you had big plans for homemade hummus (but you really prefer the farmer’s market version). Every time we reach past these unused ingredients we feel a little twinge of subconscious guilt. Nobody needs that! If it has been six months and you haven’t used it, it’s unlikely that you will. Toss them to make room for exciting, healthy pantry staples that you’ll actually go for more often. Better yet, donate them to those in need.
4. Clean out the storage container drawer
I’ll spare you the lecture about plastic food storage containers. Regardless of how you’re storing your food, I bet you’ve got some mismatched tops and bottoms. Maybe a few are cracked or scuffed or maybe you have so many that everything spills out onto the floor every time you open the door.
Let’s put a stop to that. Cull your collection down to the pieces that nest nicely inside of each other, that have matched lids, and that still look and smell good. (I swear by these glass storage boxes. They make me happy when I see them filled with fresh veggies and stacked in my fridge!)
5. Scale down your cookbook collection
Are you guilty of buying those big, colorful cookbooks…and then letting them gather dust behind your KitchenAid mixer? If you haven’t made anything from it in a year, tuck it into your donate bag. And if it’s filled with recipes or foods you’re not eating right now—things that are meat, dairy, or gluten-heavy—this is your permission to bid them adieu.
6. Is something filled with negative memories? Get rid of it!
Don’t hang on to the coffee cup from the job you hated or that Mexican salad bowl from the trip with your horrible ex. Our kitchens and meals form the heart of our homes and the tools we use there can be surprisingly emotionally charged. If there are bad associations tied to that set of wine glasses, get rid of them.
7. Fill your kitchen with food + tools that support the life you want
Now, I’m not suggesting a major shopping spree, but if you’ve been wanting to try your hand at Asian cuisine, buy yourself a wok or a lemongrass plant. If you’d like to go dairy free, stock your fridge with almond milk, cashew cheese, and avocados. If you want to increase your iron intake, fill that veggie drawer with spinach. You get the idea! You can see my favorite kitchen tools here.
Your kitchen should support the life you want – a source of pleasure and inspiration, not a place where stained containers tumble down on you every time you open a cupboard. Let’s make a pact to clear our hearts and our minds by creating spaces that help us relax and reenergize as well as feed ourselves and those we love.
Now it’s your turn: Do you find that releasing the excess “stuff” helps you feel lighter and better all around? Share your stories and insights in the comments.