The spring and summer months invite us to tidy up our environments, and many of us begin with a closet makeover. Perhaps it’s a psychological trick, but we often believe that if we rearrange our physical environments, emotionally we’ll feel better, too. In her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” bestselling author, Marie Kondo, reinforces this notion by telling us to discard items that don’t ‘spark’ joy. Her book began a cultural trend, which got Americans de-cluttering their homes with fervor.
As it turns out, Kondo’s joy recipe doesn’t only apply to our home environments; we can use her formula to re-shuffle our emotional and social lives, too.
To tidy up our lives in this way, we might examine how our values impact the way we choose to spend our time. In a world where friends, work colleagues and acquaintances contact us via text or social media within seconds, relationship boundaries are more fluid.
As a result, our inboxes, direct messages, and Facebook feeds are jam packed with too much information, which often causes stress. We may feel pressure to quickly respond to every message or request that lights up on our Smartphones. But a few ‘tidying-up’ tweaks can help us recalibrate our social lives so that we can connect with our friends in a more meaningful way.
Phone Calls are Efficient.
Have you ever tried making plans with a friend via text and sent five to ten mini messages to decide on a place and time to meet for dinner? While texting might feel efficient, consider picking up the phone and making an actual call instead. It might seem antiquated and feel like more work, but a few seconds on the phone can solidify plans and also clear up any miscommunication that our text bubbles can’t catch.
Does it Spark Joy?
While we shouldn’t let hedonism dictate our decisions, often we devote too much time in relationships that aren’t meaningful and intimate. If you’re dating, how often have you spent too much time on a date that you knew wasn’t going anywhere?
We may also get together with casual friends because we feel badly for saying ‘no,’ when we really want to spend time nurturing our more intimate relationships. Try to apply Marie Kondo’s method to your social life, too. Does the friendship or relationship ‘spark’ joy? If so, devote more time to these meaningful interactions by making them a priority.
It’s difficult to prioritize self-care, but try to set aside some time each day to connect with yourself. This might mean stepping away from your phone, journaling, or doing something creative. We receive so much information from screens that we forget the importance of reading, writing, and talking with others.
Weekly psychotherapy is a nurturing way to care for yourself. For one hour each week, you have a trusted professional’s undivided attention and the space to think about yourself. Your therapist can help you connect the dots as you explore how stress affects your career, as well as your relationships.
The insight from psychotherapy is like an emotional “Aha!” moment that we don’t often find in our busy lives. While many might view it as an indulgence, therapy is a worthy investment —one that you’ll reap the rewards from for years to come.
Research shows that spending time in nature is a healthy way to lower our stress levels, but many of us rarely spend more than a half hour outdoors each day. Try to devote some time each week to taking a walk or sitting in the park.
The stillness of the great outdoors can lower our cortisol levels, as well as decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.