Declutter Series 2: Maintenaince

Declutter Series 2: Maintenaince

Clutter, Mental Health and Wellbeing

Survey results from an Australian Institute, Stuff Happens:

  • 42% of respondents agreed that their clutter makes them feel either anxious, depressed or guilty.
  • 88% of homes have at least one cluttered room.
  • 29% said that clutter stops them enjoying their time at home.
  • One in five (21%) said that clutter in their home impedes their ability to move around the place.

A lot of what these respondents felt, relate to my sentiments back then and even now. In my first Decluttering post, I wrote about the beginning of my journey. Just because I’ve starting, it doesn’t mean my house is completely spotless 24/7. That’s when I realised, maintenance is something not many people talk about. How can I keep my place tidy after decluttering? After a few years of learning, testing and trying, I have some tips to share with you, so keep reading!

What to do when things start to pile up.

1. Take inventory.

Choose one room or section to focus on. What items are piling up? Whether it’s books, dishes or laundry, make a mental note.

2. Put each item back in it’s place.

If from time to time, you leave items in places they shouldn’t be (like me), put the items back in their place. For instance, pens should be stored in a pencil case or pen jar. Socks back in the sock section of your drawer. Laundry in the laundry basket… you get the picture. If there is no home for this item, either discard it, re-use or donate to charity, family and friends who need it.

You’ll be surprised that once you make this a habit, your space will stay clean with minimal effort. Preventing things from piling up = less feelings of overwhelm, guilt and anxiousness. Stop the cycle.

3. Don’t be a hero.

Often times, we feel obligated to clean EVERYTHING all at once, to stop feeling guilty or embarrassed. I don’t suggest this – unless you have the energy. If you stop half-way or get distracted, you’ll only feel more guilty for not doing it all.

Take it one step at a time. Finish one section, then move on to the next. Anyway, one section that’s tidy, is better than none!

4. Check for appropriate storage.

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I had stacks of books in a box because I had no shelf. Once I had enough money, I bought a shelf and finally have a spot for my books.

When your items are sorted in specific categories, check whether you have appropriate storage solutions. There are many videos on Facebook and YouTube that could give you ideas.

Questions I ask myself: Is this useful? Does this fit with my lifestyle? Can I re-purpose this? Is it an item I enjoy? If the answer is no for any question, I either donate, discard or sell it online.

Next, let’s look at ways to stay motivated when cleaning, organising or decluttering.

How to stay motivated.

Remember why you’re doing it.

For me, I clean because I don’t want my living space to be overwhelmed with clutter. If you don’t have a reason to clean, I would suggest to watch decluttering shows like Minimalism, Consumed, Hoarders and Extreme Clutter. Sometimes we resonate with people who are in a similar situation that we are in. Watch a few episodes and reflect. What parts of the show did you find useful? What parts of the show don’t apply to you? Years ago, I knew that having piles and piles of clothes without storage wasn’t the best idea, but I didn’t know that I could just declutter them – I was taught to keep/treasure items to the point of being overwhelmed with clutter.

Capitalise on the urge to tidy.

If you’re feeling the slightest urge to declutter/clean, I suggest to capitalise! There’s no better time than right now.

Reward > chore.

Some people may view cleaning as a chore. For others, it can be a source of catharsis and relaxation. For me, I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. Thinking about needing to clean makes it feel like a chore, but when I’m actually cleaning, I zone out and enjoy the repetition. By the end of it, I feel rewarded because now I have a tidy home, ready for cooking, creating or even lounging. So keep that in mind: if your living space/house/apartment/room is tidy, there is more time to enjoy life! I am not encouraging you to clean 24/7, I am encouraging to take small steps each day to living a clutter free life.

Choose a colour palette.

This year, I have been transitioning from an all black, grey and red palette into colours including white, beige and orange. I spent some time making my own colour palettes I liked and searched on Pinterest for further inspiration.

Sticking to a colour palette has helped me purchase items I thoroughly enjoy and use, time and time again. Colour preferences may change throughout the seasons – that’s fine! What I want you to remember though, is having a palette-base will take away the guesswork when you’re shopping, thrifting or re-purposing. Keep it simple!

Ask for help and have fun.

I know, it can be daunting and you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. But if you have people in your life that you can trust, REACH OUT. Life’s struggles don’t have to be experienced alone. We are on this Earth to help each other. Perhaps a friend or family member can do the dishes while you tidy the dining area. More pairs of hands are better than one! You can make it a fun activity by scheduling a lunch or special takeaway dinner! 2 in 1 deal: a tidy home as well as spending time with people you care about.

Finding balance through living life simply has improved my mental, emotional and physical health. Remember, nobody is perfect and no home is perfect, so don’t hold yourself to such expectations. If you are cleaning today, don’t forget to have fun with it!

Stay well friends! x

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Photo by Priscilla. GIF from cartl.

Avène Face + Body Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin

Avène Face + Body Moisturiser for Sensitive Skin

Humidity is the friend I didn’t know I needed.

While I was overseas in Malaysia, my skin thrived in the humid weather. Besides the sweating, I loved it! However, it soon dawned on me that returning to Australia would involve dry, merciless heat…  It was my mission to invest in a good quality moisturiser that I could bring back!

I was at a mall in Kuala Lumpur, browsing through a local pharmacy when I came across this brand, Avène. I’d heard of it, but never thought much about it. The pharmacy assistant explained this moisturiser was good for dry, sensitive skin. Now, I’ve experienced the horrors of all kinds of ‘suitable’ creams that didn’t hydrate my skin but made it dryer/sting/tingle or made no difference at all. This Avène cream was said to be appropriate for eczema and very dry, sensitive skin. It had no fragrance. Despite my hesitation, I decided it was time to give this product a go.

My review.

When I arrived back in Australia, as expected, my skin started to break out with dry patches around my face and arms. My eczema-prone skin started to itch. Flying on multiple planes probably didn’t help out, either. I immediately started using this Avène cream. Within the next few days or so, my skin started to feel smooth, hydrated and dewy without feeling ‘heavy’.

It has been about four weeks since using this cream, and the dry patches on my face are no where to be seen! Besides my nose, from wiping it all the time – thanks to an unwelcome cold/flu.

The Benefits of Avène:

  • Fast-absorbing. I’ve found this moisturiser to be relatively fast-absorbing so when I’m rushing to get ready for work, I can moisturise, dress and go!
  • Fragrance free. Although I am a sucker for pretty-smelling perfumes, soaps and lotions, this fragrance-free cream adds to the sensitive skin suitability. There’s no risk of reactions to a fragrance or feeling my nose itch every time I breathe in.
  • Slightly dewy. I find when I use this on my face, it does give a slightly dewy feel. I have been digging this look, especially whilst in this transitioning spring-summer weather! If you’re not a fan of this, then perhaps this product is not for you. However, I will say I use a little more than the amount of surface area I have. Maybe if I used less, my face would feel more matte, than dewy.
  • Clinical studies included. On the Avène website, there are 2 results of small clinical studies indicating hydration increase after 6-7 days of use. My psychology-based brain finds this inclusion quite intriguing.

How I use this moisturiser.

I use Avène once or twice daily. And powdered makeup over the top, if I feel like it.

For a few months now, I’ve steered clear of foundations/BB creams to give my skin some freedom. These days, I only use blush, bronzer and a brow pencil. The less I use on my face, the better my skin looks and feels. I make an effort to stay hydrated too. If my lips start drying out, I use this as an indication that I need more fluids! Thanks to this new Avène cream, I feel confident that my skin is being taken care of while I go about my daily routine.

I’ve always wanted to find ways to embrace my youthful 20s! And you should too. Regardless of your age, enjoy the beauty that your body + skin is. True, no one is perfect but it doesn’t take perfection to ‘radiate beauty’. Take time to look after you. Whether it’s a new skincare product or taking a break from a strict routine… Enjoy it.

When we are honest with ourselves and our flaws, confidence grows!

Stay well friends! x

Finding Creativity At Work

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The little waitress.

Most people who know me, know that I worked in hospitality for a number of years. Running food, washing dishes, making drinks and taking orders – the usual front-of-house/all-rounder duties. Although I enjoyed hospitality for it’s fast-pace and it’s people, I could not be creative. I could neatly arrange table decor, fold pizza boxes and garnish fresh smoothies (I LOVED doing these tasks), but I could not pour beautiful latte-art for the life of me. One reason was that I lacked training, and the other was that the year I tried latte-art, was the year I knew something finally needed to change. Instead of creativity, I focused on building rapport with customers, doing my best to ensure they enjoyed their experience wherever I worked (I have previously worked in cafes, restaurants, clubs).

At home, I loved to cook, draw, watch creative videos about food, dance and culture. As each year passed by, I realised that most of my time was spent at work or school – so I needed to find an environment that allowed creativity and connection.

Most people like myself have to do what needs to be done (work in an industry they no longer see themselves in), to get through life. Whether it’s rent, bills, family or car-payments, we all have responsibilities. Because of this, our values don’t always line-up with our day-jobs.

The art of applying for jobs.

When I made the decision to apply for a retail job, I had been actively looking for work for about 12 months. I wasn’t expecting a call-back, to be honest. I found it difficult to stay positive.

Toward the end of the year, I finally received 2 call-backs: 1 for administration work and 1 for retail. Although I tried to practice interview questions, I did not do well at the administration interview. The retail interview on the other hand, felt like a much more natural conversation – despite my nervousness. I did my best and felt like it was actually enough.

About a week or so later, I was offered the job and immediately started training! YAY! There were new processes and many new people I met. I was transitioning in the workforce. I still worked shifts at my other jobs for financial stability, but I was on the way!

New job, new me.

When I started working in the store, it was a bunch of shambles. Christmas was around the corner and customers were shopping in droves. I felt like a fish out of water.

As time went on, I felt more comfortable, styling customers, finding out what look they were after, and even styling myself like I used to in high school – freely and creatively! I’ve noticed that retail is more of a relaxing environment compared to hospitality. Customers are kind and building rapport comes naturally. Women have shared their sad and joyful stories with me – something I find quite moving.

Now I am excited to go to work, thinking of new ways I could wear items, finding the balance between practical and stylish. Some days, I just want to wear sneakers and a hoodie, but I have yet to find the perfect ones… so far, what I love about retail is that I can change and progress creatively. Hospitality was an industry I was doing well in, but retail is where I currently excel.

Where do I belong?

A conversation with a past manager, reminded me that sometimes we must find where we belong. It’s important to work with people that share the same values and act accordingly. Back then, I experienced many obstacles where values weren’t shared and I suffered because of that.

According to a SEEK survey, 74% of respondents believe their job has a significant influence on their overall quality of life and 71% say it also affects the emotional states of those closest to them.

Personally, I found myself feeling more frustrated, tired and drained from working in an industry where values no longer aligned. My boyfriend noticed my increasing irritability and emotional instability.

Although I learned so much and made many friendships in hospitality, I am grateful I made this change.

Now, I rarely feel fatigued and feel supported and encouraged where I work.

I’m not saying, “Up and quit your job!”. I’m saying, if you have noticed your mood, mental and physical wellbeing on the decline, reflect on your life. Is it a lack somewhere in your diet, or lack of exercise? Is it a personal issue you could see a professional about – doctor/counsellor/psychologist? Is it your work environment: do you feel valued and supported?

At a workshop I recently attended, the organiser said “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

I have worked with amazing, supportive managers and even got along with many higher-ups. However, a few times throughout my work-life, I’ve found this statement to be true. It’s important for owners, managers and employees alike, to check-in with themselves for the benefit of the company and their own lives.

Have you found where you belong? If not, what small steps can you take to work on it?
For example, listing your strengths and incorporating those into everyday life. Or starting a hobby for your own mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s all a learning journey. Start where you are.

Embrace change!

Let’s talk about sexual harassment.

Let’s talk about sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment: any behaviour that is unwelcome and unwanted, often causing feelings of intimidation, humiliation and offence.

My story.

Some stories are positive, to highlight that there are good people in the world.

At age 11, I learned what the word rape meant. I interpreted it as ‘something being taken away from another, without permission’. My parents feared for my safety, and banned me from staying over anyone’s house.

At 12, I was catcalled constantly in front of an adult I trusted. He said it was my fault because I was wearing shorts that covered everything that needed covering. I started wearing pants, even in the humidity and heat.

At 14, during a 15 minute walk home in the afternoon, an unknown man in a blacked-out car motioned me toward him, slowing down.

At 15, another man stopped along the side of the road to offer me a ride home. Thankfully, he was a family friend.

At 16, a man at a bus stop relieved himself near me. He said he was waiting for a friend. He then said I must’ve seen many dicks at my age. And since it was 7:30 in the morning, his “size” was smaller than usual. He asked me to go for a walk. I declined. I was terrified to walk back home, in case he followed me. The bus finally came. His “friend” never got off the bus. I honestly didn’t feel like going to high school or catching public transport for some time. No one took me seriously whenever I spoke about this incident.

At 17, a stranger offered me a hug as I was crying at a bus stop. He even gave me a chocolate bar as a kind gesture. He said it affected him seeing people hurting.

At 18, I cried because I wanted to say no.

At 19, I was groped in a crowd, multiple times.

At 19, a guy decided I wasn’t allowed to leave to find my friends. He held my wrist with an iron-tight grip. I will regret that night forever.

At 20, some guy decided it was okay to touch me as I was getting into a taxi.

At 21, another woman saw I was struggling to walk (as I had been drinking most of the night). She helped me to the bathroom and stopped random guys trying to talk to me. Afterwards, she insisted that my boyfriend took me home immediately.

At 23, an old man winked at me and asked me to sit on his lap while I was at a family gathering. I was in shock. No one said anything. I was always taught to respect my elders. I know now that respect cannot be given. It must be earned.

At 24, a stranger asked, “You’re not afraid of me, are you?” while we were alone in an empty car park.

At 24, a group of tradies catcalled me, making loud assumptions about why I was walking around the city at 9PM, on a Friday night. I had just finished a 12 hour work day.

At 24, I’m realising how many other women have similar experiences to mine. It’s not okay.

At 24, I’m so fucking done, taking shit from strangers and people I thought I could trust.

I have lived a privileged life, growing up out of poverty, having access to education and basic needs. Unfortunately, sexual harassment was one of the experiences that nobody could have foreseen or protected me from.

Facts based in Australia:

  • Almost 1 in 5 women (18%) and 1 in 20 men (4.7%) have experienced sexual violence (sexual assault and/or threats) since the age of 15.
  • In 2016, on average, police recorded 52 sexual assaults each day against women and about 11 against men.
  • One in two women had experienced harassment in the course of their lifetime and one in four men had experienced harassment too.
  • 38% of women between the ages of 18 to 24, reported acts such as inappropriate comments about their bodies and sex life, indecent exposure or unwanted touching, kissing or grabbing in the last 12 months.
  • 4% of Australians have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years, compared to 11% in 2003 (2008 survey).
  • For those who did not make a complaint (2008 survey):
    • 43% did not think it was serious enough
    • 15% were fearful of a negative impact on themselves
    • 21% had a lack of faith in the complaint process
    • 29% took care of the problem themselves.

The psychological effects:

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

  • Mental health conditions were the largest contributor to the burden of disease due to physical/ sexual intimate partner violence, followed by suicide and self-inflicted injuries.
  • For women who have experienced domestic violence, this can include poorer physical and mental health than women who have not experienced such violence. Increased rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and illicit drug use than those who had not.

According to the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA):

  • Anxiety and intense fear are the primary responses following rape. Some research has found that this peaks at around three weeks after the rape; however, it can last for more than a year for a significant number of survivors.
  • Distressing flashbacks or reminders of the assault may occur.
  • For some women, particularly from marginalised communities, sexual assault can reaffirm assumptions about themselves as devalued persons (insidious trauma), and about the world being unsafe and dangerous.
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, self-blame and guilt can endure for months and years after the assault.
  • People may experience emotional shock where they have an exaggerated sense of unreality and disassociation. (SECASA)

According to American clinical psychologists and an employment attorney:

  • Sexual harassment has been associated with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
  • Somatisation: The normal, unconscious process by which psychological distress is expressed as physical symptoms. For example, a person with clinical depression may complain of stomach pains that prove to have no physical cause. Counselling can be helpful to overcome somatisation.
  • Neurotransmitters found in our brains are also found in our gut. It’s a real thing: this is why we tend to get sick when we get stressed, and over time, if we’re in constant stress or if it’s too much to handle, then there are physiological consequences.
  • Physical manifestations of stress: hair falling out, hives, weight gain or loss, sleeplessness and lethargy.

At 24, I asked my partner if he would stand with me. And now, I am asking you to do the same.

Women, we must stand together. Men, please stand beside us. Society, we need to do better.

We don’t need protection. We need unity and solidarity. We need voices to SPEAK UP and people to TAKE ACTION. Pull up your friends, if they make inappropriate jokes. Call people out, if they make advances on women, men or children. Report suspicious behaviour especially in regards to children, as they may not trust adults to talk to. Support a survivor, if they share their story.

Change happens with awareness, education and action.

So please, educate yourselves and those around you. Know that sexual harassment and assault is a serious offence and can have dire psychological consequences.

If you or someone you know needs support, Health Direct has compiled a list of services to contact. View the list here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sexual-assault-and-abuse-helplines.

Remember, change starts with you.

Image from Pinterest.

Declutter Series 1: The start of my journey.

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Clean your room.

Growing up, I was always told to clean my room. Me and my brother would get up to all sorts of mischief: throwing food in random parts of the house (don’t ask me why), building ‘castles’ using chairs and blankets, swinging from blankets attached to cupboards (don’t ask me about that either). No matter how many times we cleaned up, our rooms would be a mess again.

One sibling turned into three. At slightly different age ranges, we had so many different toys, books, pens, pencils, clothes… it was next to impossible to keep clean. My mum would often step-in and clean it herself, but it was a lot to deal with so eventually our rooms stayed messy. The cleaning habits of our mum, did not pass on to us.

I believe this occurred for a few reasons. First, cleaning was seen as a laborious chore to do when asked. Second, when I did clean, it was more of an organised mess afterwards. I didn’t know how to clean properly. Third, I was taught to be grateful for every item I received, so I barely threw anything out and convinced myself I could re-purpose it all. At one point, I was obsessed with horror shows so I wanted to collect the fake spider-webs that was displayed at Halloween… and let me tell you, it didn’t add to the space in an appealing way.

The years under 12, I suffered severe asthma and pneumonia. It’s not until today as a 24 year old, I realised the health impacts cluttered spaces can have on the body.

Years went by and less and less attention was paid to organisation. Floors needed to be vacuumed, dishes needed to be done, rooms needed to be sorted. The house was stuck on ‘pause,’ while life continued. Unless someone was coming over, no change would ensue. Multiple times, we’d unwillingly try and clean but it never stayed clean. A house of 7 and not one clean spot. (See what I did there?!) Even a close friend of mine tried to help. It was incredibly exhausting. I think it was a mix of trying to do it alone and the heavy energy that lingered in the house.

A few years later.

Fast-forward to my 18-year-old self. Although I moved out, I had too many clothes, shoes and random items around my room. It was an organised mess at the best of times. My clothes were stored in ‘clothe bins’ and whatever couldn’t fit, was thrown onto a spare bed.

Occasionally, I’d find the will to sort through my things. It was so satisfying. I still didn’t understand the importance of organisation, despite that. Whenever I looked long enough at my clutter, I’d feel overwhelmed. I legitimately had NO IDEA how to change the habits I’d taken with me from childhood.

Freedom.

Until I met my boyfriend Luke, organising and decluttering wasn’t on my priority list. One night, Luke lined up all my shoes perfectly, and although it was something small, that sparked something inside me to change. Around this time, I was also watching YouTubers who were taking on the “minimalist lifestyle”. It was fascinating to me that these people could live with so little and be content. I wanted to be content.

I finally plucked up the courage to clean my room. I got rid of many unused clothes, gave away shoes, trashed random boxes I’d collected from online orders… all that heaviness was finally gone.

I felt like a new person. The twenties are all about re-inventing yourself, after all!

The years that followed involved the usual occurrences of life… pain, lessons and striving to be better. De-cluttering to me, would feel like an emotional release. I didn’t need to hold onto pain, whether it was mental or in the form of material things. Funnily enough, when I’m mad, I clean. Quickly.

There are still days when I feel lazy and not every single thing in the house is in ship-shape order, but I’ve come a long way.

I’ve set a new habit and expectation within myself. It’s so easy to look at my space now and think, “Do I need those spare envelopes? Can I find a new home for these shoes?”. I’m constantly looking for ways to live with less or cleverly re-purpose working appliances/furniture/storage items.

Those who struggle with severe hoarding tendencies or major disorganised traits, may need help. Be that friend who encourages. Be that friend who shows up.

Things I learned since starting my decluttering journey:

  • The job is never done until it’s done
  • Help is essential – it’s OKAY to ask for help
  • Accountability is essential
  • Self-control for buying is essential

If you want to clean your home and declutter, I have created a guide to get you started. Cleaning doesn’t have to be laborious. Break it up into small tasks. Effort goes a long way! It’s worth it, I promise you!

Decluttering Guide

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment down below!

Photo by Thought Catalog.