Ditch the Clutter, Your Mind and Wallet Will Thank You

How’s the spring cleaning going this year? Are you finished? Still knee deep in your piles of “keep,” “donate,” and “trash” bags? Or did you give up? Should we not even ask? Wherever you are in your annual quest to clean, tidy, and declutter, we’ve got some motivation for you not to quit (or to start). Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who’ve already finished, in which case we salute you (and silently curse you). All that excess clutter around you is more than just an eyesore, or a hazard to your feet (we’re looking at you, LEGO), it can actually drag you down mentally, and be a drain on your finances. So to keep you going, let’s look at how decluttering can be good for your mind and your wallet! 

Your Brain on Decluttering

We’re going to lay something kind of deep on you: sometimes the clutter that has accumulated around you is a physical symptom of what’s going on in your mind (and sometimes it means you have kids, which also means you’ve got a cluttered, stressed mind!). So that means the opposite is also true: decluttering can have a positive affect on your mental health. How?

1. Decluttering can boost your confidence and strengthen your decision-making skills

caucasian woman smiling with her thumb up

Part of what some of us dread about decluttering is all the choices we’ll have to make, especially about what stays and what goes. When you’re in a not-so-great mental state, making decisions can become overwhelming, which can up your anxiety levels. But a good old-fashioned clean-out can boost your confidence in your decision-making skills, and even make you feel empowered! You’ll be restoring your sense of agency and usefulness as you sort through the things that you need, and the things that are might merely be “should keeps,” or things you’re holding onto to please someone or for some other reason that isn’t helpful to you. 

Not only that, but making the choices about what stays and what goes in your environment can be a very powerful way to set boundaries in your life, both with yourself and with those who share your space.

2. It can reduce anxiety

Humans prefer order and symmetry, so decluttered spaces can be calming to an anxious mind; in addition, patterns can also help relieve anxiety. That means that not only does having things ordered and balanced around you help to reduce anxiety, the actual process of creating patterns by sorting similar items, taking inventory, and organizing what stays and what goes can be a sort of coping mechanism to release anxious energy. Not only that, but as Nidhi Tewari, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health therapist, points out, “The process of organizing requires that you be present, so it can be grounding in instances where anxiety is heightened.”

3. It can energize you

We get it: it can be hard to get up off that couch and start the decluttering process. But once you do, you’ll kick yourself into that high-gear, getting-stuff-done mode, which can spill over into other parts of your life. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Bhavna Barmi, “When you accomplish the relatively small task of decluttering, you attain a sense of accomplishment which leaves you more energized and helps you move towards your goals.” After all, anytime something you do (no matter how big or small) takes you toward a goal, you’ll feel better, more productive, and more motivated to keep on keepin’ on!

4. It can reduce stress and boost your mood

african american woman smiling
Decluttering can improve your mood.

Feeling stressed because you can’t find things in your space, or even lashing out at the people around you when things get lost, or when the clutter gets overwhelming? Yup, clutter definitely causes stress; in fact, in one study, when working couples gave tours of their homes, women who used more words describing clutter and disorganization also tended to show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting chronic stress. So, on the flip side of that, decluttering can help to alleviate stress: other studies show that the actual act of cleaning and decluttering can decrease overall stress by lowering cortisol levels, and increasing endorphins (our feel-good hormone).

Your Wallet on Decluttering

Are you starting to feel good already, just thinking about how a decluttering project can benefit your mental health? Great! But the benefits don’t stop there: decluttering can actually save you money, as well! It’s a common misconception that keeping everything will save you money in the long run, but that just isn’t the case (in fact, studies show that storing unused items in your home costs roughly $10 per square foot). Here’s why:

1. You won’t need to buy multiples of anything anymore

Get this: according to one study, U.S. households collectively spend a whopping $2.7 billion annually replacing lost items! But if you declutter, once you’ve gotten rid of excess stuff, and whittled down to the stuff you need, and organized the stuff that’s left, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Great for your stress levels, but also really practical because you’ll no longer end up buying something you already have! 

2. You’ll save money on storage solutions

Ok, a trip to one of those stores that sells endless rows of streamlined storage solutions can be really fun, we admit it. But all of that extra stuff that you need to store all of your extra stuff is costing you a whole lot of money! And here’s a tip while decluttering, while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and spend a bunch of money on organization items halfway through the decluttering process, don’t. You need to know how much stuff you’re actually keeping before you buy storage. 

3. You can cash in on the good stuff

Remember that old decluttering technique: divide everything into piles of things to keep, donate, and trash? You can also add a fourth category for the stuff that’s in great shape: sell. That used to be a tall order, with a lot of running around to places like consignment shops, but nowadays you have a ton of options right at your fingertips! Try sites/apps like eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, ThredUp, Vinted, and Facebook Marketplace.

And don’t forget about that donate pile: donating your unwanted stuff feels good (just soak in that good feeling knowing you’re helping others while you declutter!), but it’s also tax deductible.

4. You can’t pay bills you can’t findfiles and papers stacked on top of each other

Nobody likes paying bills, right? But what’s worse is paying your bills late and racking up late fees or hurting your credit score. And that’s what’s happening to a lot of people with cluttered spaces, simply because they misplace their bills! In fact, 25% of adults say they pay bills late because they lose them.

5. A decluttering mindset can rein in spending

You might notice that, once you’ve done some decluttering, you won’t want to go back to the bad old days of a cluttered house, and will be more likely to stay in that “decluttering mindset.” That might also mean that you’ll be less likely to mindlessly buy unnecessary stuff that will just become clutter, which will save you money as you shop!

6. Time is money

Having a cluttered space can suck up your time, and take you away from more productive things. Consider these stats: the average person spends two and a half days searching for misplaced items each year, and nearly 25% of us are late to school or work at least twice a week as a result of searching for lost items. Not only that, but in the average home, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of the housework! Just think what you could be doing with all that extra time! You’ll have more time to do stuff yourself, instead of paying someone else to do it, or you’ll be able to find better deals on things. Add to that your reined-in spending, and you might find you have to work less, or you can start paying off your debts!

There you have it: we’ve given you 11 great reasons to get back on that spring cleaning decluttering train. It might feel overwhelming when you look around you at all the clutter that’s dragging you done, but you got this. Just start small and don’t feel like you need to do everything in a day – remember that every step you take towards your goal will make you happier, healthier, and maybe even a little better off financially. 

Get Well Soon! 10 Tried & True Home Remedies For Cold and Flu Season

As we navigate one of the worst public health crises of our lifetimes, something ominous looms on the horizon. With a severe cold and flu season ahead, as well as a surge of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to be proactive with your health and, to be frank, honest about the reality: most of us will get sick at some point or another this winter! However, armed with common-sense practices (like wearing a mask, avoiding crowded spaces, and washing hands for thirty seconds with soap and hot water!), and our list of 10 tried and true home remedies, we can all make it through the season unscathed. 

african american man with a jogging suit on running on the road
Regularly exercising can help build up your immune system.

Preventative Measures

In football, they say the best defense is a good offense, and the same goes for your health. Keeping your body in tip-top shape reduces your risk of catching a cold or other communicable illness. Here are five things that, if added to your regular routine, can help keep you healthy all season long: 

  • Reducing Stress. Stress wreaks havoc on our entire body, particularly the immune system. Corticosteroids, released when the body is under stress, suppress the immune system, meaning you’ll be less able to fight off viruses and infections.
  • Getting regular exercise. Regular, moderate exercise supports a healthy immune system by increasing the circulation of immune cells throughout the body.
  • Eating Vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C helps maintain your immune system, preventing illness and helping you recover quickly. Try to add produce like oranges, strawberries, red peppers, and broccoli into your diet on a daily basis.cleaning supplies in a bucket with a purple cloth on it
  • Cleaning regularly. This keeps you, your house, and anyone who visits or lives with you safe from germs! Wiping down often-touched surfaces, like counters and doorknobs, stops viruses from spreading. 

Top 10 Home Remedies

Of course, nobody wants to get sick. But if you do fall ill despite taking preventative measures, these ten home remedies will have you feeling better in no time. 

  • Shorten symptoms with a zinc supplement. Experts believe that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold, because it prevents the rhinovirus (the virus responsible for most common colds) from reproducing in the body. garlic bulb and cloves
  • Stave off bacteria and viruses with garlic. Add a hefty amount of this antibacterial, antiviral superfood into your soup, make garlic toast with fresh, diced garlic, or make a simple broth by boiling carrots, celery, half an onion, and as much garlic as you can in a big pot of water. 
  • Relieve coughing with soothing honey. Plus, honey’s microbial properties allow it to fight off some bacteria and viruses. Stir a heaping spoonful into tea, or even just hot water with a slice of lemon, to feel results almost instantly. 
  • Reduce nausea and indigestion, as well as coughing, with oregano oil. Often used for respiratory support, oregano oil supports bile flow, which reduces indigestion and promotes a healthy gut. 

    caucasian woman flushing her nose with a white neti pot
    Flush your nose to prevent cold symptoms.
  • Soothe your throat with a salt water gargle. Dissolve ¼-½ teaspoon of table salt into an 8oz glass of warm water to pull out undesirable fluids from throat tissues and soothe a scratchy throat irritated by post nasal drip.
  • Flush your nose with a neti pot. Neti pots use a medical grade saline solution to rinse particles and mucus from your nose, preventing illness and alleviating cold symptoms.
  • Get a good night’s sleep by propping your head up to encourage any congestion to drain from your sinuses overnight. A hot compress on your face as you relax in bed supports this process. Sleep is critical for healing – it’s when your body produces important proteins that help fight infection and inflammation!
  • Open airways with menthol-based treatments. You can make your own vapor-rub by adding a few drops of mint, tea tree, or eucalyptus essential oils to your favorite lotion or vaseline and rubbing on your chest before bed to support easy breathing all night. 
  • Reduce congestion and draw out toxins by taking a hot bath with epsom salts. The humidity and steam from the hot water will ease congestion, and the epsom salts will help draw out toxins and reduce body aches.

    glass cup with a light brown liquid in it
    Warm milk blended with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, and black pepper can help reduce inflammation!
  • Reduce Inflammation with spices like cloves, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. You can make a warm, soothing beverage like golden milk (warm milk blended with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, and black pepper) or a cup of bone broth with a dash of cayenne.

Despite the threat of cold and flu season fast approaching, we can all stay happy and healthy. With common sense health practices like washing our hands, staying home to stop the spread, and incorporating natural preventative measures into our daily routines, we will make it through the season. If you do end up under the weather, using these antimicrobial home remedies should help – but always be sure to check in with your primary care physician if your symptoms persist or get worse.

Go With Your Gut: The Connection Between Our Gut & Our Overall Health

Most of us are looking for ways to make our bodies healthier. In fact, over 80% of us take vitamins and supplements every day. But the secret to health might not be in a pill, it might be in the foods we consume. We’ve all been taught about the “food pyramid” and the importance of eating healthy, but we may not think about how important our digestive system actually is. Feeding your “gut” properly can make all the difference to your overall health. Here’s why, and what you can do to keep you and your gut healthy. 

It Takes Guts diagram of intestine labeled

We used to believe that our digestive system was a simple, one-track tube for food to pass through. Now we know it’s much more than that. Your “gut” is not just a pit in your stomach where food goes, it is a whole microbiome, which is home to 300 species of bacteria and trillions of other microorganisms. We rely on these microorganisms, microbiota or “good bacteria”, to help break down food and extract nutrients, support our immune systems to fight off the “bad bacteria”, and more. 

When your gut is healthy and balanced it supports digestion, reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases, contributes to a positive mood and mental health, and improves the quality of your skin, hair and nails. Gut health is impacted by the food we eat, as well as by stress levels, sleep quality, and antibiotics. 

The Secret To A Healthy Gut

How do we support this important part of our body? Experts suggest these five steps for a healthier gut.

caucasian woman sitting down pushing donuts away and has a salad in front of her.
Eliminate junk food to get a healthier gut.
  1. Eliminate the junk! Over-processed, sugary foods are hard to digest and over-work the microbiota in your gut. Eliminating these foods makes their job easier. 
  2. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are great sources of probiotics, which contain live bacteria cultures that can support the bacteria in your gut. Try unprocessed yogurt, kefir (a yogurt drink), kombucha (fermented black tea), or vegetables like sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (Korean-style fermented cabbage and other vegetables), or miso (fermented soybeans). 
  3. Feed your good bacteria with prebiotics. Probiotics feed on prebiotics. Prebiotics are found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. There are particularly high levels in green (under-ripe) bananas, onions, artichokes, garlic, and sprouted beans or legumes. 
  4. Reduce stress. For many people, stress brings on gastrointestinal issues: stomachaches, irritable bowel syndrome, or loss of an appetite. Other people might turn to comfort foods when stressed out. Neither of these are good for your gut microbiome! Take time to relax each day. Try venting to a friend or partner, writing gratitude lists, or indulging in self care. Staying ahead of your stress levels helps your gut stay healthy.

    caucasian woman with black hair in a white bed sleeping.
    Sleep is important for your gut and overall health.
  5. Get more (and better!) sleep. Getting plenty of high quality sleep allows you to fully digest your food, so your healthy microbiota can do its job!

By making some of these easy changes and trying new, fermented foods, you can improve your gut health in just a short time. People who follow a gut-friendly diet say their hair is shinier, skin is clearer, and even report more energy and focus. Pay attention to what goes into your body and see what changes – maybe you’ll find relief from a symptom you weren’t even aware of!

Can Yoga Be More Effective Than The Gym?

As you age, being fit is more important than ever in order to stay healthy, and enhance your overall quality of life. Going to the gym is beneficial in order to build muscle and hop on the treadmill to keep your body in motion. But what if you could become leaner, more flexible, and do cardio in the comfort of your home? This is possible with yoga! As you age, yoga can be more effective than going to the gym. 

Reduces Stresscaucasian woman sitting on floor with legs crossed and hand in front of her in praying position

The practice of yoga is to meditate, in order to give you a clear mind from all of the stressors of the day. When you do yoga, your mind blocks out all of the negative energies by reducing noises and distractions (that you experience in the gym).

Makes You More Lean

Stretching your muscles as you strengthen them will make your body more lean. During yoga, you will do different poses that will help strengthen your core, and build strength by holding your body weight.

Provides More Balance

Almost everything you do in yoga engages your core muscles, making it more muscular. You hold positions that engage your core, and when you move to different positions you engage it as well. Strengthening your core helps your body balance more. Improving your balance will help prevent you from falling and getting injured.

Older man with white hair in the park bending over with hands behind back
Yoga provides you with more balance, and can be done anywhere!


You Can Do It Anywhere

Yoga can be done anywhere! You can do it at home, in the office,and even in the park. As long as you have the time and need to meditate, you can do some yoga poses almost anywhere that is quiet and peaceful. You can tune out distractions, but it is not as easily done at the gym with all the loud noises from music, TV’s, and people talking. 

No Waiting

Unlike at the gym where you have to wait for a person, or group of people to be done with a machine, you can do yoga on your own. Yoga is done at your own pace, without waiting for others to get out of the way or be done with something.

Good For You Internally

Twisting, stretching, and folding your muscles and body during yoga are good for the digestive system, the circulatory system, and more. It’s a great way to detox the body and can improve your cardiovascular system.

Easier On Your Body

There are different classes such as hot yoga, and intense yoga classes. But there are ones that are easier on your joints such as chair yoga. Yoga works your muscles without lifting weights. Lifting weight takes a toll on your joints and can be painful. It helps build good posture, flexibility, and balance without straining your joints.

Yoga slowly stretches muscles and increases flexibility. The increased flexibility keeps muscles and joints lubricated

pink piggy bank with a coin being thrown in
No gym membership is required to do yoga!

and healthy. Weights and treadmills at the gym can cause strain which leads to soreness and injuries.

Saves You Money

Yoga does not cost a thing. You do not need a gym membership because as you stay, you can do it anywhere! You can wear any clothing that allows you to move, and you don’t need a mat. You can do yoga in the grass, or on a carpet.

You’re Never Too Old For A New Friend – The Benefits Of A Pet

Getting older can bring on challenges with one’s mental and physical state. Friends and loved ones may not come as often to visit, and you can become lonely, and depressed. One way to battle loneliness is by getting a companion that loves you unconditionally and is always by your side, a pet. Research shows that owning a pet comes with many health benefits. They help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and more. A pet is a perfect companion because they bring happiness to their owners, and help you to live a healthier, more social life. 

Live Longer & Happier

Owning a pet as you age comes with many benefits:

An older caucasian eoman walking with 3 leashed dogs in the park.
Seniors who own a pet will gain many health benefits. Walking a dog everyday gets you up and moving.
  • Boosting Your Physical Activity- Seniors should be exercising around 3 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day. What better way to accomplish this than with walking your dog?
  • Reducing Stress– Studies have shown that owning a pet reduces your blood pressure, and stress. Animals live in the moment of the here and now, and that sense of calm rubs off onto their owners. A study stated that pet owners who look into a dog’s eyes for at least five minutes get a boost of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, in the brain
  • Adding Structure– Building a routine is good for older adults as they age. It brings some stability and structure to their day to day life. Animals provide this by needing to be fed on a schedule, taken out for a walk, and be played with twice a day for a minimum of 15 minutes. It gives their owners a sense of purpose and a reason to get up and do things. 
  • Making You More Sociable– Taking your dog for a walk can lead to conversations with other people walking their own dogs, and even create new friendships. A study showed that 65% of pet owners claimed that their animals helped them connect with other people.  This reduced their feelings of isolation, and extended their life expectancy. 

“I’ve seen those with memory loss interact with an animal and regain access to memories from long ago,” Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld explained. “Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than their physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”

Older caucasian man smiling while holding up two black dogs.
Owning a pet helps boost mental and emotional health in seniors.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

A national survey, conducted by the AARP and the University of Michigan, surveyed 2,051 adults aged 50 to 80. More than half of the respondents reported owning a pet. About 88% said that their pets helped them enjoy life, and 86% said their pets made them feel loved. Furthermore, 79% of senior pet parents said that their pet reduced their stress. Among the surveyed seniors who lived alone and/or reported fair or poor physical health, 72% said their pets helped them cope with physical or emotional symptoms.

Things To Think About When Choosing A Pet

When you are considering choosing a pet, there are various things to take into account. One is taking your limitations into account, because they could affect your pets needed exercise such as going for a walk. Other things to consider are:

  • The Age Of A Pet– A puppy or kitten may not be best for an older adult because of needed training. If you cannot care for a dog or cat, then consider a bird. 
  • Finances– Pets are not cheap and can be expensive with routine vet visits, and food for the animal. See if it fits within your budget first.
  • What Kind Of Pet- Would an indoor cat be your level of comfort, or an energetic dog? Some dogs are more laid back, while others are very energetic and are on the go all the time. Cats, birds, and fishes are pretty low maintenance. 

There is no denying the solid research on how a pet’s companion benefits. If you do not have a pet, then seriously consider getting one, because not only will they make you feel better, but they will be by your side and love you through everything.

Meditation, Why It’s a Good Idea?

People talk about meditation benefits all the time. We see it in the news, on our feeds, and from journals of alternative medicine, but where do they get these ideas from?

 We live in a time where stress, anxiety, depression, and a ridiculous amount of information comes pouring at us from all sides. Our brains, or “monkey minds” as some industry experts call them, are put under more stress than ever. Why is meditation a good idea? Because it’s giving both mental and physical faculties a break. How does that work though, and what are the results? This is the time we need meditation benefits the most.

Lower Stress

person meditating in a wheat field
This can happen wherever you feel safe. If you need to take a moment for self-care, you should.

Studies conducted show meditation both reduces stress and helps us cope with it. These are all types of meditation from transcendental meditation to mindfulness-based or MBSR. Stress is terrible for your body. If you don’t meditate and take care of it, stress can lead to dangers like:

  • Early aging
  • Muscle tension
  • A compromised immune system 
  • High blood pressure

People who practiced even guided meditation see an overall positive change in their lives, simply because their stress is being actively managed. If you practice, the meditation benefits will come.

monk meditating underneath a lamp
People have been using this tool for thousands of years. Time to jump on board.


This is a less popular meditation benefit. We’re taught about stress and mental disorders, but not usually about self-image. If you think about yourself, it leads to selfishness, or so we think. However, we need self-care now more than ever. A healthy sense of self leads to feelings of confidence and a sense of trust. Self-reliance is a key trait needed to operate well in the world. With a meditative practice like tai chi or yoga, you can build this skill. 

Emotional Stability

Studies showed that anxiety plagues about one-fifth of the U.S. population. It’s the most common mental disorder, and one treatment is meditation. The practice teaches you to push your worries and concerns aside by living in the present moment. With focused attention, you learn to recognize which thoughts are helpful and which are not. Sound like a great meditation benefit? More likely than not, the worries and concerns we have are overblown. 

A Physically Fit Brain

Your brain will thank you because a regular practice will reap additional health benefits such as:

  • More Blood– the practice increases blood flow to key areas. Blood is what keeps your brain going.
  • Thicker Matter– You want a thick brain. With this physiological change, you’ll see an increase in memory and attention span.
  • Less Cortisol –  The stress chemical continues to sit in your brain. If you don’t rid yourself of it, it can cause feelings of anxiety for no apparent reason
  • More Serotonin -Serotonin is an important chemical relating to healthy mood, sexual desire, and others to keep balanced behavior.

While meditation won’t heal your existing medical conditions, it does provide alternative and complementary boosts to your wellness. I don’t think anyone would turn down the meditation benefits associated with a well-rounded life. It’s easy to start too. Just put yourself in a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and narrow your focus to just your breathing. Doing this for 15-20 minutes per day, with any form of meditation, will provide you with these advantages.

Person meditating near a tree with flowers
Picture yourself with a clearer mind, healthier physiology, and a better outlook on life.