UAE: Do you really need all that stuff? How decluttering your home can be a stress buster

Experts and residents offer tips on clearing out your space


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 23 May 2022, 3:27 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 May 2022, 10:15 AM

Having a cluttered home, car or even phone can be a sign of mental health issue, according to experts.

For Dubai resident and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Noor, a move from a 1BHK to a 3BHK is what made her realize that she was hoarding. “I was shocked at how many things I owned,” she said. “And it got to a point where I didn’t want to go into my home because the clutter felt so overwhelming. I am a qualified person who has studied human behaviour, yet I was not being able to help myself. I know of people who are hoarders of the worst kind. There are friends who have taken storage space to store all the bottles of shampoos and soap that they have got from hotels and resorts. I knew what kind of a rabbit hole it was. That is when I decided to hire someone.”

Decluttering dilemmas

When a professional came to her house, Noor says she was unable to let them touch any of her belongings. “Every time the lady tried to get rid of something, I would stop her saying that I had held on to it for so long or it might be something I would need in the future,” said Noor. “That is a classic sign of a hoarder. Even if they have not worn a dress for 10 years, they will still keep it hoping they will fit into it or anxious that they might need it in the future. They identify that possession as a part of themselves and that is an excuse for keeping it”

“However, the professional was very patient with me and started asking me questions about whether I really need so many things,” she said. “After two days, I felt so light and free. All my clothes were colour coordinated, my home had a very minimalistic look and there was a system in which all my items were neatly labelled and organized.”

Creating a system

“For a lot of people who have had to deal with grief, marital issues, anxiety or loss, they can’t get rid of things,” said Shelina Jokhiya, the founder of DeCluttr Me, a service that helps declutter people’s homes. “They may not be getting the therapy they need and instead using things like shopping to numb the pain. For some others, they are just messy people. This is especially true of people who have a creative edge. They tend to live a messy life and cannot get their homes and things in order”

“Whatever kind of messy they are, my job is to create a system for them to find their belongings in less than five seconds. I get rid of unwanted clutter, help colour code, and organize everything. We break it down into simple steps so that they can continue to stay organized even after I leave their homes. Most people who I have worked with have managed to keep up the decluttered lifestyle I train them in. It takes about 30 days to form a habit but once they do, it is an investment for a lifetime.”

Decluttering as therapy

For serial declutterer and sewing enthusiast Azeeja Aman, the process is like therapy. “My mum always taught me to donate or discard something that I am not using,” she said. “There is no point in keeping it to collect dust and waste space. So from childhood, I hated clinging on to things. As I grew older, I felt good when there were lesser items at home. It is something I consciously teach my 10-year-old daughter and we often organize together. I also feel like declutter is not just limited to your homes. In this day and age, it is extremely important to declutter your phones as well.”

“Even before I buy a new gadget or item for home or personal use I think several times if I really need it and whether I will use it to fully or if I can make do with alternatives I already have. That helps me to make smart purchase choices. There are times when I have decluttered my wardrobe or kitchen cabinet or a dresser drawer and I open it just to admire how beautiful and organized it looks,” she chuckles.

Shelina's 4 tips to declutter

1. Mini declutter or Netflix and declutter: Do small sections. Put Netflix on and declutter and organize a small section of your home or office. Do one shelf or one section at a time. Spend just 15-20 minutes decluttering it. Never do everything at the same time unless you have an organizer coming to help you. You will get distracted and do other things and then you will have an even bigger mess to clean

2. Have a paper bag: Every time you see something you don’t like or doesn’t fit you, put it into the paper bag. Once the bag gets full, put it for recycling or donate it.

3. Buy 1, Get rid of 2: If you buy one thing, get rid of two. Preferably in the same category but if not, anything from your closet so that you can declutters your closet as you go.

4. FAT (File act trash): If you get an email, see if you can file it, act on it or trash it. That way you can keep your mailbox clean.

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