Clean your room. Clear your mind.

I know this is something I’ve said to each of you on more than one occasion. At first, it seems like the words of a nagging mother, “Clean your room!” Of course when you lived at home, that was usually the case. Your room was a mess, and it made me crazy. (Stressed me out!)

Later when away at college these words served a different purpose. Without seeing your room, I uttered these words over the phone when I could sense you were upset or stressed. I’m sure you probably thought I had lost my mind. You called and shared some problem with a class, a roommate, a professor, a project, or something else and before the conversation ended, I told you to clean your room.

There were two reasons for this advice. First, when you feel stressed it helps to get your mind off your problem. And you know it’s not possible to just get you mind off your problems – think of something else. If that worked, you wouldn’t be stressed! But if you’re busy picking up, organizing, sweeping, and throwing things away, you can get your mind off your problems. Throwing away bags of “stuff” symbolizes throwing out your problems. When you clean your room (or house) it clears your mind and you feel better.

The second reason for this advice is because when you’re surrounded by clutter it affects how you feel. Piles of books and papers, dirty clothes on the floor, and shoes scattered across the room make you feel out of sorts. It’s miserable tripping on things or knocking drinks over or dealing with stickiness from spills. It’s no wonder living in a mess increases your level of stress

There is a saying that goes something like this, “a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind”. I think there’s a lot of truth in this. Avoid a cluttered mind, alleviate some of your stress, clean your room and clear your mind.

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Mom