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Zepeda’s clients often want to start clearing out the biggest things first, which they assume will be the most satisfying approach. She reins them in. Starting small helps people not be overwhelmed, and they’ll see immediate results, she says. The process is slow but more rewarding, she says.

“Think about all the things renting space in your head that aren’t allowing your creativity, your productivity, your quality time with yourself or your partner or your family,” Zepeda says. “You’re not giving space to things that really count in life because all these other things are occupying your space.”

Even if you box something up and shove it into a closet, it’s still there, she says.

“Keep in mind you’re still tied to it. You’re letting it rent a place in your head.”

Dallas psychologist and health coach Lori Shemek agrees with the connection between physical and emotional clutter. Mental thoughts and feelings, she says, “reflect themselves in our physical environment.” But she advocates a mental cleaning first.

“The things we think about spill over into every area of our lives,” she says. “I like to tell people to spend some good time every day trying to reduce mental clutter and they will have energy to move and to literally rid clutter from their environment.”

Take a walk, she suggests. Meditate. Do yoga. Soak in a hot bath. Call a friend. Pet your dog.

If negative thoughts sneak in, “reach for a better thought immediately,” she says. “It will become a habit and that’s the key to this, really. The receptors in our brain really respond to input we give them that’s repeated over and over and over.”

Then, she says, “declutter your physical environment. You’ll have energy, focus, motivation to create a better change for yourself.”

For Kelly, this simplified life has made her feel light, she says.

“When you walk into a decluttered space that still beautiful, it’s very Zen-like. It’s centering and it’s a sanctuary.”

©2014 The Dallas Morning News
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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