1. Build a Personal Sanctuary

After a long day at work, you come home to your castle, your haven of peace and comfort and . . . a pile of dirty laundry, a mound of dirty dishes, a stack of newspapers to be sorted through and recycled, footprints in the kitchen, and, oh no, there are those videos you were supposed to return yesterday. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so relaxing to be home.

“If your home is a metaphor for your life, how does your life look?”

But coming home doesn’t have to be like this. Coming home at the end of the day or staying home all day long can be a relaxing, peaceful, or even positively exhilarating experience if that’s what you want it to be. If your home isn’t the place you want it to be, it may just require a little stress management.

2. Home Is a Metaphor for Life

According to feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, our environment is a metaphor for our lives and the energy that comes and goes in our lives.

Problems in your environment mean problems in your life.

Consider for a moment that this idea is true. If your home is a metaphor for your life, how does your life look? Take a good look around you. Is your life cluttered with stuff you don’t need? How’s the circulation? How long has it been since you’ve done preventive maintenance on your life?

3. Use the Metaphor to Change

Your office, either at home or at your work away from home, can also be a metaphor for your life. Is your life scattered with unpaid bills, things to file, scraps of information that take up energy but don’t give anything back, malfunctioning equipment, unstable piles of books, files, binders, and folders?

If what you find in your home or office space is not exactly what you’d like to have in mind for your life, then take matters in hand. Let your home and office continue to be a metaphor for your life, but shape that metaphor in a way that suits your life. Remove the clutter. Keep it clean. Build a relaxing, positive atmosphere in which to decompress at the end of each day.

4. Ready, Set, Simplify

To make your home a less stressful, more tranquil place, one of the easiest things you can do is to simplify. Spend some time in each room of your home and list all the things you do in each room. What are the functions of the room?

What would make each room simpler, its functions simpler?

Simplify your cleaning chores by creating a system for getting everything done a little bit each day. Simplify your shopping by buying in bulk and by planning your menu a week in advance. You can simplify the way your home works and consequently reduce your stress while in your home in many ways.

5. Make More Space

Some people feel comforted by a room full of stuff, but there is something relaxing and calming about a clean, clutter-free space. Why not put away or give away some of that stuff and free up some space? As you make space on your surfaces, floors, walls, and rooms, you’ll feel like you are making space in your mind. You’ll feel more relaxed and calmer in that clean, organized, uncluttered space. If you donate stuff, you’ll also get the feeling of satisfaction that you’ve helped others. Or, if you give clothing or other items to sell on consignment, you can make a little pocket money.

6. De-clutter, De-stress

Clutter does more than keep your home, your desk, or your garage looking messy. It keeps your mind messy, too. The more stuff you have, especially the disorganized, unmatched, lost, or high-maintenance stuff, the more you have to worry about it, find it, maintain it, keep it, deal with it, have it. Getting rid of the clutter in your home is the most important thing you can do to make your home a stress-free haven of tranquility.

7. Are You a Pack Rat?

Getting rid of clutter is hard to do, especially for those who can’t bear to throw anything away. How many of the following statements would you agree with?

• I keep a lot of clothes that I think I might be able to fit into someday.

• I have at least one junk drawer filled with spare parts and other small items I might need someday, even if I’m not sure what most of them are.

• I have at least a year’s worth of magazines that I know I’ll look at sometime.

• All the storage spaces in my house are overflowing with stuff— I’m not sure what it all is.

• I record more movies, television shows, or music than I can keep up with watching or listening to, but I save all the tapes because I think I’ll get to them all . . . eventually.

• I buy more books than I can read, but I just might read them someday.

• I have at least five different collections.

If you check more than one item on the list, you’re probably a pack rat. That means de-cluttering is trickier for you than for someone who doesn’t have a problem letting go of stuff.

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