How Can Decluttering Reduce Stress?
Natasha: For as long as I can remember, I was spread pretty thin. I’m sure that’s like most moms, right? Right? That’s just mom life.
Mariel Gutierrez: Right.
Natasha: I’m like getting all emotional about it, but because I don’t have as much stuff cluttering my life, as much stuff to worry about, I can just focus my energies on things that really matter.
Mariel Gutierrez: Parenting isn’t easy. It’s challenging and frustrating, but it’s also rewarding and inspiring. We just need a few reminders. Parents––dads, moms––you’re not alone. Let’s do this parenting thing together. I’m Mariel Gutierrez.
Jewell Buenavista: And I’m Jewell Buenavista. We are the tired, but inspired, moms and you’re listening to the Faith and Family podcast, a Christian family community that aims to promote Christian values for every phase of your family life.
Mariel: Now, have you ever heard that saying, “Your home is a reflection of your mind,”? Okay. Well, if this is true, my mind is––oh my gosh––Guitar Center meets Barnes and Noble, I guess. You know? So, my mind is cluttered with all the necessary things.
Jewell: You know, my home is organized chaos and a lot of stuff, which is really a true reflection of my mind because there’s just a lot of things in my head and it’s chaotic but yet organized. You know? I know where things are at but if somebody was to look into my brain, they would be like, “Oh my goodness, it’s too chaotic but it’s organized somehow.”
Mariel: Kind of like you’re in a circus tent. Right?
Jewell: Yes! That’s a pretty good description, Mar!
Mariel: I feel like I’m next door––at the circus tent next door to you. Alright well, you know, so like chaos, right? We talked about it––organized chaos. A chaotic home, though, can be pretty stressful. Can we actually be better wives and moms and humans by decluttering and trying to live a minimalist life? Interesting. Today, let’s explore. Let’s explore with Natasha. Our friend, Natasha Esguerra, a busy mom of two, who decided to take the big step of living a minimalist life and found herself enjoying life a little bit more. And she’s going to share her journey and life hacks with us. Hi, Natasha!
Natasha Esguerra: Hi guys, thanks so much for having me on today.
Mariel: Of course, thanks so much for joining us! So, let’s get right into it. So, like every busy mom, you were spreading yourself thin, right? Errands, work, chores, obligations…but please share with us the top three ways you feel your life or relationships have improved since you started to declutter your home.
Natasha: So yeah, for as long as I can remember, I was spread pretty thin, like you said. I had a lot of stuff going on and I’m sure that’s like most moms, right? That’s just mom-life, right? #momlife. But after starting to embrace minimalism, I was able to look at––I felt as if my home suddenly became a place of rest. Instead of coming home after a stressful day to like, a totally cluttered house and thinking, “Oh man, now I’m home and there’s all this mess at home,” it became different. I would come home, the house was manageable and peaceful, and I felt great at the end of the day––like a place to recharge. I felt like it was a place to recharge instead of being a place for more stress. And then, on top of that, I also found more time for my family because with less things to do at home––less stuff surprisingly converted to less things that I had to do each day, so less things to keep up with each day. So, as a result, I ended up having more time for family. So like today, I did a full day of work but after we got home, we had a snack, cleaned up a little and then went to the playground.
Mariel: Aww, I love that!
Natasha: We’re trying to do that each day. Those are the things that we never had time for before. It’s like we’d get home and it was just like another job, trying to get everything cleaned up and take care of the kids and get them to bed. There was no time to be like, “Oh, let’s go play. Let’s go outside for a bit.” But now, that’s just part of our everyday life because we have more time for that. And then, in general, I just feel like since I have less things to worry about, or less things to maintain, I have more time to do things I actually love. So, I have a Youtube channel, I, of course, have my duties in Church––I’m a Choir Director and I oversee different congregational choirs throughout the area. So, having time to do those kinds of things and having time for my family, I feel like my cup is full. I don’t feel like I’m running on fumes. I don’t feel like there’s not enough time in the day. I used to always feel drained and torn down. I never had time for myself. But ever since I started becoming minimalist, I just feel like my life has transformed for the better.
Mariel: I love that.
Jewell: You know, Natasha, I follow you on social media. And because of you––okay, seriously––I started doing this 30-day challenge that you actually suggested to declutter my home and I think the strategy that you’ve put out there was very helpful because before, I would think, “I’m going to declutter the whole house,” and then I’m so tired and then it never gets done. But I love how you’re like, “You know what? Just clean the fridge,” or, “Start off with two kitchen cabinets.” And I’m telling you, since I started this––it’s been about two weeks now––each time I did something, it was very liberating. Something that I learned from one of the books that you recommended, [it said], “Don’t be a storage. Let the retail stores be the storage.” And that really––
Mariel: Ooh, I like that.
Jewell: ––made so much sense and it feels really good. I know what you mean, I can physically feel not stressed going home. So yeah, your recommendations have been amazing.
Natasha: I’m so glad to hear that and I think what stops us from decluttering in the first place is we think that we need to tackle the whole house. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? So, you just have to celebrate––well, if you were to eat an elephant! It’s just a saying that I pulled out of the air! But if you just tackle one spot at a time, you have those little victories, it gets a snowball rolling. I think, too, it’s great to start with places that are the most-lived in your house, right? Because when you come in––so, for my house, when I come into my kitchen, that’s the––when I come into my house, the first thing I see is my kitchen. And so, I need that to be in order. Not immaculate but I need it to be in order because that’s what I first see when I come in the house and I’m like, “Okay, now I feel like I want to cook in it because it’s in order,” as opposed to, “It’s a mess and I don’t feel like doing anything. Let’s get take-out.” You know?
Mariel & Jewell: Right, right!
Natasha: When you go in your house, what’s the first thing you see? Maybe that’s what you want to start with because that’s visually pleasing and going to make you happy the moment you enter your house. So, it’s great that you’re able to pinpoint. The challenge was [to] do one thing at a time. I’m glad to see that you feel better. It seems like a little but oh my gosh, it adds up––it’s compound, right?
Jewell: Yes, no! It’s such a––because I tried to declutter before and I’d feel so exhausted and it’s like I feel like I need to set aside the whole day, you know? But this time, the way you taught in the 30-day challenge, it takes me an hour but that hour made such a huge difference. And one thing is I actually got my kids involved and so, it became like a bonding time as well. So, overall, I’ve been having a lot of fun doing it. I’ve been loving it so thank you for that.
Natasha: No problemo!
Mariel: So, I want to hear, Natasha, what are your favorite methods? Or what are three methods of how to just get rid of things? Because I don’t want to get overwhelmed. I heard Jewell, where it’s like when it’s bite-sized, it’s much easier to tackle. So, what do you think, Natasha?
Natasha: Yeah, so like what I said, the bite-sized really helps. I would say start small. That’s a good way, to start with something you can accomplish, even in just a few minutes, and get those little victories. Even if it’s just a drawer, it’s great to be able to just declutter a drawer, and then the next time you open it, you’re smiling. Before, I used to always––when I would clean up an area, before I knew about minimalism and stuff––when I would clean up a random area, I would then afterwards, everytime I’d pass by, kind of smile at it and be like, “Yeah…”
Mariel: You’re like, “I did that!”
Natasha: Yeah and I’d be sad whenever it got messed up right away because I still had too much stuff. But if you actually know how to declutter and just get rid of the excess in even just little spots, that’s a great way to start. And then one way you can do that––one question you can ask yourself when you’re tackling a certain area is are there things in here that are damaged or broken? Those are easy victories, you know?
Natasha: Or expired, in the case of food, right? Even make-up, things like that. If it has no real use anymore, just get it out. Don’t say, “Oh, I’m going to fix that later,” you said that ten years ago that you were going to fix that but you didn’t fix it. It’s still there!
Mariel: That is some expired make-up!
Natasha: Except for the expired make-up. But you know, if you rip something, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to sew that. This is still a good shirt, I’m just going to sew that.” But you didn’t do that, so you know––get rid of those things! You’re not going to do it if you haven’t done it yet. It’s okay, you know? It’s going to be okay. And then, another question I ask myself, especially for clothes––have I used this in the last year? Aside from winter clothes or something, other stuff, if you really haven’t used it, or even if it doesn’t fit right. Like, when you put it on and you’re not like, “Yeah, this is awesome!” or “I look amazing!” If you’re like, “Mmm…it’s just…you know…this is okay,” but it doesn’t really spark joy––like Marie Kondo says-–if it doesn’t really spark joy, why hold onto it? And then, I also think to myself––another thing that helps me to let go of stuff, especially if I haven’t used it, but sometimes things, they cost a lot of money, right? And you don’t want to let go of it because it cost a lot of money back in the day or whatever, or you just have this sentimental attachment to it, you could ask yourself, “Would someone else get more use out of this,” rather than it just sitting in the corner somewhere collecting dust, could someone else actually make use of it? And if the answer is yes, hopefully that would compel you more to basically give to others rather than to just not do anything for anyone. And so, based on those questions that I ask myself, I am then able to decide to toss it or donate it and then, I actually am left with things in my house that I love and nothing more. And I’m still striving to get to that point but at least in my most-lived areas, I feel like I’m at a good spot and that makes me very happy and that makes me willing to keep going, to have that momentum, and to strive even more to declutter and just really keep what really sparks joy. So, those are some things that I ask myself and some things that help me in terms of minimizing.
Jewell: At the end of decluttering my home, Natasha, I’m hoping I could be a better wife, mom and Christian. I feel like it’s such a good way to count your blessings because you could focus on that more. How did decluttering help you become a better Christian?
Natasha: I just––decluttering, I feel, helped me to become a better Christian because I feel like I just have more time, in general. I have more time, above all, to devote to my relationship with God. But in general, I feel like because I can move more slowly throughout my day––and by more slowly, I don’t mean like a turtle or something. I just mean I’m not rushing. I used to always feel like I was rushing. I feel like I’m more present, in the moment, I’m more deliberate, more intentional about my actions and I feel like it helps me to appreciate everything more––just like little things. Like, in the morning, when I’m getting my kids ready for school, sometimes, I’ll kind of just look at the side of their face. I love looking at their little noses and their little smiles. These are things that I would never slow down and notice as much before, right? So, us getting ready in the morning, we just have fun conversations, we’re joking around––I’m just in the moment and I just love that. And it makes me even more thankful to God for them, for the blessings, just having this time together with them. And it just makes––I don’t know, I’m all getting emotional about it but because I don’t have as much stuff cluttering my life, as much stuff to worry about, I can just focus my energy on the things that really matter. And I feel like relationships are such a big part of life and sometimes, they get neglected because of the things, right? But there a––The Minimalist, they have a podcast and one of the things that they always say is, “Love people, use things.” So, rather than using people and loving things, you know? It’s better to just appreciate people and treat them right and not worry so much about material things, in a sense. So, I feel like being able to notice that and just appreciate that even more, it’s really a blessing. It’s really a blessing that comes from God. And I have more energy, as a result, to devote to the things that I do for Him and in my services to God. I feel like our relationship is much better because I’m not just rushing through everything. I’m not just trying to survive. And then, I’m more thankful for everything that I already have. I don’t feel like I need anything more. I used to always personally love going onto Amazon, walking into Target. I used to love all of those things––not love but you know, I used to feel like I needed the next best thing and worry more that those things would make me happy. Whereas really, what makes me happy is what I already have––God’s love, the love of my family, the relationships with my friends––and those are the things I should be paying more attention to and striving more to develop and enrich, rather than just worrying about things, right? So, yeah.
Jewell: Ahhh, I love it. I love how you said you’re slowing down because you know, a lot of times, especially moms, we’re always on the go. We’re always rushing, we’re––and the things around you, it takes up space in your mind. All of this stuff, “What am I going to do with this stuff?” Even just looking for socks, it’s like it’s stressful because the pairs are not there or there’s too many and it’s––but I love how you said you’re slower in a sense that you are pausing to actually be in the moment and being more intentional. I feel like decluttering––I feel like after this, I’m going to declutter more. I love it. I’m so inspired, Natasha. And I hope––so, thank you so much for being with us today. Hopefully, some of our listeners can learn a few things from this discussion because I know I definitely have and I’m looking forward to not just decluttering our house but to declutter my mind, and really slow down, and be more intentional, and be deliberate, you know? And really focus on the blessings and the relationships that matter most.
Thank you so much for being with us today, Natasha!
Natasha: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure!
Mariel: Thanks for listening to this episode of Faith and Family. If you enjoy listening to us talk, laugh, cry and build each other up, you can download more on Google podcast, iHeartRadio and Apple podcast under Faith and Family. Please leave us a review or just say hi! Take care and stay safe!