Too Much Stuff – Secrets to Declutter and Live Happier

As humans we have a tendency to collect things that bring us joy or remind us of certain people and events.  Over time these things can start to take over our living space and actually bring us stress instead of joy.  Let’s discuss what too much stuff can lead to and how you can turn things around in your home.

Learning to identify what really matters can help with decluttering too much stuff. We can assess what we have, prioritize what we need, then begin to slowly let go of the things that matter least. Over time, we declutter and transition into a simpler, happier way of living.

Has collecting things over the years left you feeling crowded and overwhelmed in your own home?  Have you run out of room for the things you really like or that really matter to you?  Let’s explore the simple steps to start decluttering.

What Is Having Too Much Stuff?

It’s looking around your bedroom, kitchen, or even your home and feeling overwhelmed by belongings, collectibles, and junk.  You’ve spent years collecting your favorite miniatures, the latest smartphone accessories, newspapers from special events, then life got away from you.  Now it’s piling up around you and you have too much stuff!  Not to worry-it happens to all of us.  Let’s talk about why this happens and how we can start turning things around.

Gather: The minimal, modular organizer that cuts clutter.
Gather cuts the clutter of small desk items, acts as a central home base for your most used items, and keeps everything neatly in place.
Table organizer

Assessing How Much Stuff You Have

As a first step, I’ve learned it’s important to determine how much we really have. Get a good, big picture view of what areas containg things (attics, basements, storage units, closets, extra bedrooms), what types of objects are there, and where one is in life.

This can help begin to prioritize which general areas are important to us, and which one will have the most helpful impact first from delcluttering. Once we have a small space decluttered, the good feeling and freedom begin to spread and make it easier to declutter other areas too! 🙂

How Do You Know if You Have Too Much Stuff?

It’s all a matter of opinion!  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?  But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the way your home looks and feels, you’ve probably got too much stuff.  Look around your home.  Do you have items you don’t use anymore?  Perhaps a drawer of things you collected for future use?  How about those 12 pairs of shoes collecting dust in your closet? 

Then there’s the 17 boxes of baseball cards in the office closet…  Do you need a storage facility because you’ve run out of room in your home?  Seriously-some of these things you may need and some you probably don’t.  If you feel it’s too much, it’s probably too much.

Why Do We Keep So Much Stuff?

There’s so many reasons to collect things!  It’s something given to us by a loved one, it marks a special occasion, it reminds us of a momentous accomplishment, it makes us happy (or at least we think it does).  It can be hard to part with items that bring back special memories, especially of loved ones we’ve lost.  Our children tend to do the same thing-they want everything they see on television or that their friends have, and the vicious cycle begins.  We provide the example for our children when we keep our own stuff and we buy the stuff they ask for.

What Do You Do When You Have Too Much Stuff?

It’s time to declutter.  Collect the items you don’t need or don’t use anymore.  You don’t have to get rid of everything, just the things you haven’t used in about six months or more.  Prioritize the needs over the wants.  Don’t hang on to things for future use because that day may never come.  Reorganize, repurpose, and recycle.  Then decide-trash, donate, or sell?  It may seem overwhelming at first, but it can be done!  At the same time you can provide the example for children-teach them about what really matters and what they also can donate to those in need.

Does Having Too Much Stuff Cause Stress?

Absolutely, yes it can cause stress as well as illness.  If you’re looking around your home and feel the need to clean but feel overwhelmed, then your stuff might likely be causing you stress.  And stress can lead to so many other issues down the road.  The more stuff we have, the more we have to clean.  Lack of cleaning means dust and allergens that can also make us miserable!  If we can pare down the stuff, we can also pare down the cleaning (it’s a win-win).  If we have less to clean, we potentially have less stress (as well as less sneezing).  It’s time to declutter! 🙂

Just breathe - Too Much Stuff - Gone Minimal
Just breathe

Are Minimalists Happier?

I think this is a good question for a minimalist.  But the first question might be: why did you become a minimalist?  Sometimes it’s a choice, in which case it can lead to more happiness with that lifestyle.  Other times people have to minimize due to changes in life, family and relationship changes, relocation for work, or even losing a job.  This probably doesn’t lead to increased happiness, at least not for a while until one adjusts to the changes and lifestyle.  Let me ask you-do you think you’d be happier as a minimalist?

Effects of Too Much Stuff

Having too much, while providing some comfort that we have things we might want or would hope to use one day, can also impact us in other ways. It might slow us down, having visual reminders of all those things we planned though never got to. It might make the thought of cleaning daunting, leaving us to choose to “do it another day”.

While it usually begins with good intentions (having cool things to do exciting projects, or keeping stuff since it might have value one day), over time, it can begin to take us off course. We just need to head back on course, be grateful for the opportunity to have those things, then let them go to make space for what one truly values in the moment and near future.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid of Stuff?

It’s difficult to get rid of items that have purpose or mean something to us.  We buy things thinking we’ll have a use for them someday.  We collect items that remind us of our last birthday with Grandma.  It’s hard to part ways with things that have sentiment.

There’s also those of us who hang on to stuff thinking we will have time for that project or that hobby we’ve always wanted to do, but we get too busy with work and life so it collects dust.  So maybe it’s time to reorganize and re-prioritize.

How Does Having Too Much Stuff Affect You?

It’s a potential hazard to have too much stuff-both mentally and physically.  You’re thinking you need to declutter and clean up, which brings fear of loss and stress.  But all of that stuff is collecting dust, which is no good for allergies.  And it’s narrowed the pathway from your bedroom to your bathroom, which is a fall hazard. 

Stress and allergies can raise your blood pressure, cause headaches, not to mention loss of work due to illness!  For some, the stuff gets so bad that we stop having friends and family over, which can lead to loneliness and depression.  It’s a vicious circle trying to keep up with stuff.

Why Does a Cluttered House Bother Me?

It’s bothersome because you know you need to declutter.  You’ve got collectibles everywhere, trash, dirty dishes and laundry, and you’re embarrassed to have your friends and family over anymore.  Or you’re so busy with work you don’t have the time or energy to clean and declutter. 

Perhaps you have children who demand to buy all of the latest toys and gadgets, which you know doesn’t teach them anything about life skills, managing money, or cleanliness.  Or it’s your aging parents who have stacks of old magazines, childhood belongings, and excess furniture that could lead to falls.  Whatever the reason for you, the more you need to prioritize your home (or your loved one’s home) and getting rid of the stuff.

Signs You Have Too Much Stuff

You’ve run out of room on your bookshelves.  Your closet is overflowing.  You’ve got dishes all over the countertops and kitchen table because your cabinets are full.  And your office chair?  It’s somewhere under that pile of clean, unfolded laundry and towels!  Have you looked under your bed lately? 

It’s stuffed with cardboard boxes full of junk and dust bunnies!  What about the kids’ rooms?  They’ve definitely got more stuff than they actually need!  If you feel like it’s time to declutter, it’s definitely time.

Below is an insightful video on what and how to declutter.

Insightful Books About Too Much Stuff

  • Too Much Stuff (Children’s Book) – Emily Gravett (2020) – A book about magpies trying to build the perfect nest but end up with too much stuff.  A charming tale to teach children about overconsumption and what to truly value in life.  Available in hardback and audiobook.
  • Too Much Stuff (Children’s Book) – Robert Munsch (2020) – The story of a child who can’t decide what to take on an airplane trip and just brings all her toys, but does a good deed by sharing with other children on the flight.  Available in hardback and audiobook.
  • Too Much Stiff, Decluttering Your Heart and Home – Kathryn Porter (2006) – Techniques to declutter your home and heart with practical advice and prayer points.  Reaffirmation that despite collecting too much stuff, God is still there and can give us the strength we need to declutter and re-prioritize.  Available in paperback.
  • It’s All Too Much – Peter Walsh (2007) – Methods for decluttering your physical and emotional life for living richer.  The author helps identify what contributes to your vision for life and what prevents you from achieving your dreams.  Available in hardback and audiobook.

Other Resources:

Sometimes it’s hard to see that what we have, in fact, is too much stuff.  We may think this stuff contributes to our happiness when it does not.  Once you identify that your stuff is overwhelming, you can start taking steps to identify what really matters and what needs to go.  So what do you truly value, and what’s holding you back?

Related Topics:

How Much Stuff Does the Average Person in America Have?

Americans tend to pride themselves on collecting stuff as a sign of prestige or wealth.  But is it really?  We live in a nation of excess and it shows in our homes and our way of life, especially when compared to other nations.  Perhaps it’s time we rethink our ways and focus on what really matters-each other!

Does Having Too Much Stuff Affect Your Moods?

Our moods are affected by our surroundings.  Too much stuff in our homes becomes distracting and makes it difficult to relax.  We’re constantly thinking about how we need to clean, declutter, and reorganize which adds stress.  Stress contributes to high blood pressure, anxiety, even stomach ulcers!

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