Spring-clean for mental health

I recently devoured Marie Kondo’s latest book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.

(Feminists amongst you may not take kindly to some of the less “PC” comments about housewives etc. etc. mentioned in the book)

The blurb instructs you to “transform your home into a permanently tidy, clutter-free space and be amazed at how your whole life changes”. 

I  was intrigued and wanted to put this to the test. (And really what else do I have to do now I’ve pretty much left med school?)

One thing struck a chord with me – and likely with every student across the country: that urge we get to tidy around exam/revision season. What is that about?! Kondo claims that it is because “the brain is actually clamouring to study but when it notices the cluttered space, the focus switches to ‘I need to clean up my room’. Kondo suggests that the urge to clear our physical space reflects our desire to clean up our psychological space:

“when your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state”

The point Kondo is making is that we can “change our whole lives” by tidying, because it enables us to examine what it is that makes us happy, that we really cherish and what we really enjoy. By only keeping in your home/room what “sparks joy” you can develop a true sense of what you like: the books you choose to keep on your shelves (through a careful process of taking them off the shelf and touching them to see if they “spark joy”) reflect what you most enjoy reading and what style/genre of book you seek out. In this manner, Kondo suggests, we can hone our sense of what we want from our lives and begin to seek it in our every day lives.

I suspect there is some truth in this. But what self-respecting scientist would accept “I suspect” as the basis of fact? So, I unpacked my clothes from uni and folded them away according to the ‘KonMari Method’ (the basis of which is to form a rectangle that can then be stored vertically in drawers):

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4 – your basic rectangle
Step 5
Step 6 – roll up
Step 7 – in the drawer (supposedly vertically, but this depends on the height of your drawers)

So how do I feel now, one week later? It’s hard to tell really. I’m a pretty tidy, organised person anyway so my room tends to be pretty uncluttered (maybe I already experienced my life-altering effect of tidying when I was younger). I suppose it does make my clothes easier to see and I don’t think they are as creased…maybe not so life-altering after all, but I’ll keep you updated.

However, some of the ideas Kondo explores in the book are quite interesting and valid. She suggests thanking our shoes and bag at the end of each day for the support they gave us throughout the day. Although somewhat contrived, I believe this has some merit: being grateful for the small things around us can help us to achieve a more positive state of mind, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

It’s a good, quick read and there’ll be something you can take away from it and apply to your life.

Read it? Let me know what you thought. x



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