Tidying has become a popular trend this year. If you haven’t seen her series on Netflix or read her book, Marie Kondo is a Japanese consultant who helps people tidy their homes by reorganizing and only keeping things that “spark joy.” In her technique, the KonMari method, there is an order to the tidying process, and it’s essential to being successful. After watching the series, I began thinking about ways we can “tidy” our lives to increase self-care and improve our mental health.
Carefully Choosing Friendships
As a working mom with two young children, I don’t have much time to spend with friends. And I’ve realized the importance of only maintaining friendships that are supportive, healthy and, of course, spark joy. Life can get busy. There may be times of conflict with a friend or times when they need you. It’s important to feel reciprocated love and support. If you surround yourself only with people you love and who love you, you’ll feel better and have more time to dedicate to those individuals.
As a parent, I know that I’m modeling behaviors for my children. And I like to ask myself: What are my friendships teaching them?
Saying No to Over-Committing
The Shinto roots of the KonMari method is a way to treasure what you have and treat your things as valuables opposed to disposable objects. You can think about your commitments the same way. Do you cherish them and are they valuable to your life?
I’m a people-pleaser by nature, and one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is to just say no. I can’t be everything to everyone. I can’t be everywhere. I can’t do everything that’s asked of me. It’s not beneficial to me or to anyone. When we run ourselves ragged with commitments, we damage our mental health.
Take the time to think about what matters in the big picture. Are your commitments a reflection of the things that matter to you and your family? Would you be happier and healthier if you committed to less? Keep in mind there’s not a gracious 90-day return policy on your time—once it’s given, it’s gone.
Making Time For Yourself
What are you doing in your life that’s just for you? I know how hard it is to make time for ourselves. But now that you’ve let go of some time-drains that weren’t sparking joy for you, you can do some of the things you love. We often justify the time and resources we spend giving and providing for others, but not for ourselves. I’m giving you permission to let go of that mentality because it’s self-care and not an act of selfishness.
Wherever your passion lies, whether it’s volunteering, finishing that creative art or home project, traveling, cooking, writing, training to be a bodybuilder, you should do it. Schedule it just like you would anything else in your life.
Marie Kondo says it’s important to thank the things we get rid of. So, as you let go of some of the unhealthy friendships, time commitments and habits from your life, take the time to appreciate what those things gave or taught you, mindfully thank them and let go.
Sarah Roethlinger is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and Supportive Housing Program Director for Youth Focus, a nonprofit in Guilford County North Carolina. Sarah supervises several programs that serve youth experiencing homelessness including Act Together and My Sister Susan’s House. She’s a mom of two children, enjoys trying different pesco-vegetarian cuisines with her husband, and she never leaves the house without a reusable straw.
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