Less Stuff Is Freedom
A Little Extra Work Now… Yields Amazing Results Later
When dealing with chronic illness or mold exposure, experimenting with minimalism can improve your health, reduce your stress, and increase your peace of mind.
Reducing belongings is also an effective method to prevent future cross-contamination of new belongings and living spaces after relocating.
There’s no need to be rigid in your approach. Every little step in the right direction — of simplicity — helps.
How Risky Is Each Belonging?
Analyze Items For Ability To Harbor Spores
Ask these questions:
- Is it porous?
- Does it have nooks and crannies to collect dust?
- Is it a hard surface or carpet/cloth/fur?
A hard floor has 99% less dust than a carpet floor. Use this principle to analyze your belongings. If you deem a belonging risky enough, consider getting rid of it. Cleaning an item could work, yes. You may choose to attempt to clean it and throw it out later if cleaning it didn’t work. Trust your judgment. Determine.
You — really — don’t want to keep items that will store mold spores after you’ve remediated or moved. Cross-contamination is very real; It does happen, but it can be avoided if you’re willing to be shrewd.
Use critical thinking skills: Can you imagine a way mold spores could be hiding on/in this item?
Get Rid Of Any Belonging You Can
Purging belongings is almost ubiquitous when recovering from mold exposure. The risk of cross-contamination may be high, and it’s not logical to retain items that are easily infested.
Rate Riskiness Of Your Belongings, 1-10
Develop a mental “rating system” by quickly assessing items, rating them between 1-10 in terms of riskiness. A full 10 would be the “most risky” or “most contaminated.”
Start by tossing anything 7 or higher on the “Riskiness Scale.”
Down the road, you could lower your threshold — perhaps tossing items as low as 3 and higher, if you think you’ll see benefit.
Do what’s right for you. Even if you’re only tossing out items 8 and higher — you’re starting the process, increasing your awareness, and reducing your exposure and odds of cross-contamination after you’re “clear” of mold.
HARD SURFACES = 99% Less Dust
It’s true of floors, and it’s true of possessions. Hard surfaces are your friend!
Minimalism Is Restorative
Minimalism has many inherent health-giving properties, mold aside.
Mental clarity is the result of intentionally accumulating less stuff. We all know the anxiety and stress toxic mold can wreak on your mental state.
Minimalism also simplifies things if you find yourself moving once, twice — or more — times.
When the process of cleaning and relocating your possessions is simple and quick, you don’t fear a potential move down the road.
Yes, organizing your stuff gets very, very easy. There’s joy in this.
There’s no need to “adopt the label” of minimalist — or even embrace it as a movement. Simple, even small, steps toward being more minimal are what’s important here.
If you’ve got lots of possessions, that’s fine — there’s nothing wrong with that — but each belonging adds more risk and more work.
Thoughts About Children and “Their” Stuff
Kids Are Possessionless
I sometimes think about how children don’t truly own anything.
I once asked a 5-year old where his baseball bat is, he said “In Daddy’s truck.”
Later, I thought to myself: Does this kid truly own that bat? Can he keep it where he wants and play with it when he wants to?
The answer is, obviously, no. His enjoyment of that toy was entirely at the discretion of his parents.
No, young children don’t even truly own the clothes they wear. They don’t wash or dry, fold or put away their clothes. Even if they pick out their own outfits, there’s little “stress” associated with the upkeep of the clothes.
Meanwhile, adults own and are masters of thousands of individual belongings. Each one requires upkeep — none can care for themselves. Many provide little to no value day-to-day. Yet they take up space, collect dust, go uncleaned and uncared for… day after day, week after week, and so on.
At any moment, stop and think about just how much you own. How each item, if you were to think of it, might demand an action from you.
The only way to function — while owning so much stuff — is to put it out of your mind. To ignore the stuff. This doesn’t feel like a healthy way to live, to me. And I think this “ignoring everything unimportant” is one main difference between adults and children — and partly why one group is stressed and forgetful, while the other is relaxed and a sponge for new information.
The Rock Climber
There was once a rock climber who liked to climb buildings. His observation from great heights?
“Adults never look up. Children do. They see me on the roof almost every time. Adults never see me.”
Children learn quickly because their minds are free — of ideas and responsibilities for the future. One reason their minds are more free? They aren’t actually responsible for thousands of possessions every day the way we are as adults.
In my opinion, there is something about owning less that is deeply similar to the free, healthy, and childlike human spirit.
Things can own us as much as we own them. If you’re newly considering how clean your belongings are (or aren’t), owning a lot of stuff can be overwhelming.
When trying to recover from the mental havoc mold exposure has on you, getting free of all unnecessary belongings can be an incredible, positive step. And, of course, these can be baby steps or giant steps, whatever suits your needs and intuition.
I was overwhelmed by how much work needed to be done at my house.Laura Hileman
I had so much going on: kids, work, writing projects, clients, and I’m recovering from a major illness.
But when I realized five minutes a day to clean and get rid of stuff can make a difference, it gave me hope — and confidence. Even with small steps… I can make a difference in my home environment and how it affects the health of our family.
Do what you can.
One Step Forward Per Day
The goal here is to gradually — over time — improve your environment.
If you’re overwhelmed by how much work needs to be done, understand that just 5 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference in your well-being. In fact, sometimes 5 minutes helps ward off fatigue in the days ahead..
Do what you can.
Start with a desk, a corner, a table. The next day, or next week, improve another corner, another area, another room.
Your awareness and skill set will grow; As your health returns, things will get easier and easier. Cleaning gets easier and easier.
You will find yourself making increasing — and incredible — progress.
It Gets Easier. The Hardest Work Is At First.
The first deep-cleans take more time. As things get cleaner and simpler, keeping them that way gets easier and easier. It even gets fun.
“Edit your life
— Nathan W. Morris