The lifesaving food 90% aren’t eating enough of

By James GallagherHealth and science correspondent, BBC News

Opening a kitchen cupboard containing storage jars
Is there something in your cupboard that could extend your life?

If I offered you a superfood that would make you live longer, would you be interested?

Naturally it reduces the chances of debilitating heart attacks and strokes as well as life-long diseases such as type-2 diabetes.

And it helps keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.

I should mention it’s cheap and widely available in the supermarket.

What is it?

Fibre – it’s not the sexiest thing in the world but a major study has been investigating how much fibre we really need to be eating and found there are huge health benefits.

“The evidence is now overwhelming and this is a game-changer that people have to start doing something about it,” one of the researchers, Prof John Cummings, tells BBC News.

It’s well known for stopping constipation – but its health benefits are much broader than that.

How much fibre do we need?

The researchers, at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, and the University of Dundee say people should be eating a minimum of 25g of fibre per day.

But they call this an “adequate” amount for improving health and say there are benefits for pushing past 30g (1oz).

Is that all?

Well, a banana on its own weighs about 120g but that’s not pure fibre. Strip out everything else including all the natural sugars and water, and you’re left with only about 3g of fibre.

Most people around the world are eating less than 20g of fibre a day.

And in the UK, fewer than one in 10 adults eats 30g of fibre daily.

On average, women consume about 17g, and men 21g, a day.

Fibre includes fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta and grains
Fibre is present in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and lentils

What other foods have more fibre in them?

You find it in fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, breads and pasta that use whole-grains, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds.

What does 30g look like?

Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at Auckland University of Technology, has put together this example for getting into the 25-30g camp:

  • half a cup of rolled oats – 9g fibre | two Weetabix – 3g fibre | a thick slice of brown bread – 2g fibre | a cup of cooked lentils – 4g fibre | a potato cooked with the skin on – 2g fibre | half a cup of chard (or silverbeet in New Zealand) – 1g fibre | a carrot – 3g fibre | an apple with the skin on – 4g fibre

But she says: “It is not easy to increase fibre in the diet.”

Prof Cummings agrees. “It’s a big change for people,” he says. “It’s quite a challenge.”


Are there any quick and easy tips?

The UK’s National Health Service has a page full of them.

They include:

  • cooking potatoes with the skin on | swapping white bread, pasta and rice for wholemeal versions | choosing high-fibre breakfast cereals such as porridge oats | chucking some chickpeas, beans or lentils in a curry or over a salad| having nuts or fresh fruit for snacks or dessert | consuming at least five portions of fruit or vegetables each day

BBC Food: High fibre breakfasts

What will the benefit be?

Well, after analysing 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, the results are in and have been published in the Lancet medical journal.

It suggests if you shifted 1,000 people from a low fibre diet (less than 15g) to a high-fibre one (25-29g), then it would prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.

That’s during the course of these studies, which tended to follow people for one to two decades.

It also showed lower levels of type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer as well as lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

And the more fibre people ate, the better.

What is fibre doing in the body?

There used to be a view that fibre didn’t do much at all – that the human body could not digest it and it just sailed through.

But fibre makes us feel full and affects the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine – and things really become interesting in the large intestines, when your gut bacteria get to have their dinner.

The large intestines are home to billions of bacteria – and fibre is their food.

It’s a bit like a brewery down there, admittedly one you wouldn’t want a pint from, where bacteria are fermenting fibre to make a whole load of chemicals.

This includes short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed and have effects throughout the body.

“We have this organ set up to digest fibre, which a lot of people just don’t use very much,” says Prof Cummings.

Why is this relevant now?

The fact fibre and whole-grains and fruit and vegetables are healthy should not come as a surprise.

But there is concern people are turning their back on fibre, with the popularity of low-carb diets.

Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, says: “We need to take serious note of this study.

“Its findings do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fibre from whole-grains.

“This research confirms that fibre and whole-grain intakes are clearly important for longer term health.”

The study has been done to help the World Health Organization come up with official guidelines for how much fibre people should be eating to boost health and they are expected next year.

Presentational grey line

Analysis from BBC Reality Check

One of the suggested ways of boosting the amount of fibre in your diet is to switch from white bread to brown or wholemeal.

This is what has been happening to sales of those products, based on a succession of government surveys of household spending since 1974.

Chart showing purchases of white and brown bread since 1974

From the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, white bread fell while brown and wholemeal rose.

Since then, white bread sales have continued to fall, but brown and wholemeal bread sales have been falling for most of that period, although at a slower rate.

So it looks as if while overall demand for bread has been falling, a higher proportion of bread sold has been higher fibre.

Whole wheat pasta has made less of an impact on sales than higher fibre breads, with a survey for the British Journal of Nutrition finding that pasta accounted for less than 1% of the occasions on which people were consuming whole grains.

Source –

What Does A Person Really Need?

Sterling Hayden

What does a person need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Source: Wanderer

A New Year – Some New Resolutions

It’s customary at this time of year to make all kinds of promises to ourselves, or resolutions.

  • I’ll go to bed earlier
  • I’ll get up earlier
  • I’ll eat more healthily
  • I’ll exercise regularly
  • I’m going to lose a few pounds

It doesn’t seem to take long before these promises are forgotten. Is it because we didn’t set realistic goals? Probably not. The fact is that to make these kind of changes we need to form new habits.

Now that might sound easy, but obviously as we quickly move on from these promises, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Understanding how habits are formed is crucial to successfully creating new ones, and ones that will become a daily practice within our lives.

Our brains respond in a predictable way where habits are concerned and it doesn’t differentiate between good or bad habits.

Our brains respond to a reminder, or trigger, that causes us to carry out a particular routine, or habit, knowing that when we do it (the brain) will receive a reward, normally in the release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical. To form a habit takes time. Some say 28 days and other studies say even longer. For me, a lot depends on the motivation for wanting to form the habit. If your motivation is high then it will probably take a shorter time to create.

The key is to start small. Set yourself a reward for when you have genuinely succeeded in creating your chosen habit.

In all our courses learning about habits is always the first module we study – it’s that important. And learning how to develop new habits is vital to changing our lives.

If you’re interested in learning more then you can check out our available courses. New courses coming shortly include “Long-Term Weight Management” and “Living More Simply”. If you would be interested in finding out more about either of these courses please get in touch.

Another benefit of Meditation

Here’s an interesting study looking at yet further benefits of the regular practice of meditation. Meditation is a vital part of all our courses and is a great habit to form.

Mediation and exercise lower your risk of getting the flu, study claims

  • Adults who engaged in exercise or meditation reduced their chances of getting sick by up to 30 percent
  • Those who didn’t perform either activity missed 105 days of work compared to 82 for the exercise group and 73 for the mediation group 
  • There were also fewer visits to a healthcare professional among the meditation and exercise groups

We’re all told that exercise and mediation can help us lose weight, reduce stress and improve our heart health. 

But they could also have another hidden benefit: preventing us from getting a cold or the flu.

Researchers say that mindfulness meditation or moderate exercise reduced the chances of getting sick by nearly 30 percent.

And the adults who did get sick, but engaged in either activity, had less severe symptoms, missed fewer days of work and paid fewer visits to the doctor than those who did neither. 

The team, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says it hopes the results lead to doctors ‘prescribing’ one of the activities to their patients in addition to the annual flu shot.

A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found mindfulness meditation or moderate exercise can reduce the chances of getting sick by nearly 30 percent (file image)

A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found mindfulness meditation or moderate exercise can reduce the chances of getting sick by nearly 30 percent (file image)

For the study, published in the journal PLoS One, the team looked at nearly 400 adults between the ages of 30 and 69 between 2012 and 2016.

They were divided into three groups: the first took an eight-week exercise class, the second took an eight-week meditation class and the third took neither class.

None of the adults regularly exercised or meditated prior to the study and reported they get on average one cold per year.

The participants took their classes between September and October and were followed through May weekly to look for signs of acute respiratory infections including incidence and duration. 

Over the course of the eight months, there were 112 cold and flu episodes among the mediation group, causing them to miss a combined 73 days of work.

Among the exercise group, there were 120 cold and flu episodes, which made them miss 82 days of work.

But in the control group, there were 134 respiratory infection episodes, for which 105 days of work were missed.

There were also fewer visits to a healthcare professional among the meditation and exercise groups.

While the meditation and exercise groups had 22 and 21 healthcare visits, respectively, the control group had 24 visits.

The authors also calculated the average economic cost – including the lost days of work and insurance co-pays – for each faction. 

The exercise group lost about $119 from illness and the mediation group lost about $140 compared to $163 for the control group. 

From these evaluations, the mediation group did about 27 percent better and the exercise group did about 17 percent better than the control group.  

The researchers also noted that the meditators and exercisers showed improvements in their quality of sleep, stress and general mental health.  

‘More research into the benefits of exercise and meditation is warranted, maybe in higher-risk or sicker populations, where there are more health benefits to gain,’ wrote lead author Dr Bruce Barrett, a professor in the department of medicine and community health at UW-Madison.

‘Until that research is done, we feel justified in advocating for both mindfulness and exercise because benefits appear likely, and there are minimal risks.’

The new research follows up on a past small study conducted by the team in July 2012, which found that meditation or exercise could reduce cold and flu episodes between 30 and 60 percent. 

Article from The Daily Mail

36 Nutrients That Help You Live Longer


Vitamin A

Protects against: Blindness, certain cancers, acne and osteoporosis

Found in: Liver, fish oils, milk, eggs, and orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Protects against: Nerve, muscle and heart damage

Found in: Beef, liver, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds and peas 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Protects against: Cataracts, heart disease and migraines

Found in: Red meat, almonds, dairy, eggs, fish and green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach 

Vitamin B6

Protects against: Heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s

Found in: Pork, poultry, fish, bread, eggs and vegetables  

Vitamin B12

Protects against: Anaemia 

Found in: Animals products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy; as well as fortified cereals 


Protects against: Multiple sclerosis

Found in: Egg yolks, almonds, cauliflower, cheese, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and spinach 

Vitamin C

Protects against: Heart disease, osteoporosis, anameia and scurvy

Found in: All fruit and vegetables, particularly broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower


Protects against: Liver, brain, muscle and nervous system damage

Found in: Liver, salmon, chickpeas, eggs and turkey 

Vitamin E

Protects against: Skin, heart and eye damage 

Found in: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables 

Folic acid

Protects against: Spina bifida in newborns when taken in early pregnancy, certain cancers and anaemia

Found in: Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified breads and cereals


Protects against: Heart disease, brain damage and arthritis 

Found in: Liver, chicken, tuna, turkey, salmon, anchovies, pork and beef 

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenate)

Protects against: ADHD, arthritis, allergies, hair loss, asthma and colitis 

Found in: Mushrooms, fish, avocados, eggs, chicken, beef, pork and sunflower seeds 


Protects against: Bone damage, certain cancers and diabetes

Found in: Dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya beans, tofu, fish where you eat the bones; such as sardines, and fortified products; like bread and soya drinks 


Protects against: Dangerous blood pressure levels and poor nerve signalling

Found in: Salt, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and olives 


Protects against: Diabetes

Found in: Vegetables, whole grains, beef, poultry and dairy


Protects against: Nerve damage

Found in: Fish, nuts, cereals and green leafy vegetables 


Protects against: Nerve cell damage 

Found in: Shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, kidneys and liver 


Protects against: Bone damage and immune dysfunction

Found in: Seaweed, cod, dairy, shrimp, tuna, eggs and prunes 


Protects against: Low levels of oxygen in the body

Found in: Red meat, shellfish, spinach, liver, lentils, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and turkey  


Protects against: Oesophageal cancer, liver disease, yeast infections and allergies

Found in: Peas, lentils, kidney beans, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs and whole grains 


Protects against: Arthritis, osteoporosis and cognitive decline 

Found in: Milk, meat, beans, lentils and nuts 


Protects against: Stroke, osteoporosis and kidney stones

Found in: Squash, sweet potato, yoghurt and halibut 


Protects against: Muscle and nerve damage

Found in: Salt, and smoked and cured meats 


Protects against: Bacterial infections and acne 

Found in: Seafood, eggs, liver, kidneys, nuts and dairy  


Protects against: Bleeding, immune dysfunction and thyroid problems

Found in: Seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds

Vitamin K

Protects against: Heart disease, osteoporosis and cognitive decline 

Found in: Parsley, spinach, grapes and eggs 


Protects against: Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke and certain cancers

Found in: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, chicken, eggs and sardines 

Vitamin D 

Protects against: Rickets (known as osteomalacia in adults), certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline

Found in: Sunlight and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel  

Omega-3 fatty acids

Protect against: Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, bipolar and depression 

Found in: Oily fish 


Protects against: Cancer, particularly lung; heart disease and stroke 

Found in: Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds 


Protects against: Cognitive decline

Found in: Liver, peanuts, red meat, poultry, fish, pasta, noodles and rice 


Protects against: Heart disease, cognitive decline, diabetes and mitochondrial diseases, which can cause brain damage. 

Mitochondria are the ‘energy powerhouses’ of cells

Found in: Fish and other seafood, seaweed, eggs and the dark meat of poultry 


Protects against: Heart disease, and brain and eye damage

Found in: Mushrooms, meat, poultry and red kidney beans

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone 

Protects against: Diabetes, cognitive decline and general inflammation

Found in: Fruit and vegetables


Protects against: Multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism and bipolar

Found in: Tomatoes, wheat, coconut water and dairy 


Carotenoids are antioxidants produced by plants. The following make up 95 per cent of those in the human body: 

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Lycopene
  • Alpha and beta carotene
  • Beta cryptoxanthin

Protect against: Blindness, cognitive decline, heart disease, various cancers, high blood pressure, hearing loss, inflammation and immune system damage 

Found in: Fruit and vegetables  

Putting raw spinach in a smoothie is the healthiest way to eat it.

Putting raw spinach in a smoothie is the healthiest way to eat the vegetable because heat destroys its antioxidants, scientists discover

  • Cooking spinach can destroy the vitamin lutein – good for heart and eye health 
  • Scientists say adding dairy fat, like yoghurt, helps to release the antioxidant
  • Cooking spinach on a high heat is the quickest way to destroy lutein


Chopping up spinach and putting it in a smoothie is the healthiest way to eat it, research suggests.

Cooking the leafy vegetable breaks down its antioxidants, while mixing it raw with yoghurt or milk helps to release the powerful nutrient lutein.

Boiling or frying spinach are sure-fire ways of destroying lutein, a study found.

Lutein helps lower the risk of heart attacks and prevents eye damage, previous research suggests.

Keeping spinach raw, chopping it up and putting it in a smoothie with dairy is the healthiest way to eat it. Cooking the green vegetable destroys its antioxidants, such as lutein, Swedish researchers found. Lutein can reduce the risk of heart disease and eye damage 

Keeping spinach raw, chopping it up and putting it in a smoothie with dairy is the healthiest way to eat it. Cooking the green vegetable destroys its antioxidants, such as lutein, Swedish researchers found. Lutein can reduce the risk of heart disease and eye damage 

Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden tested different ways of cooking supermarket-bought baby spinach to see how its nutritional content changed.

They measured the lutein levels regularly and concluded the leaves are best chopped up and consumed raw alongside dairy.

‘Best is not to heat the spinach at all,’ PhD researcher and study author Rosanna Chung said.

‘And even better is to make a smoothie and add fat from dairy products, such as cream, milk or yoghurt.’

She explained: ‘When the spinach is chopped into small pieces, more lutein is released from the leaves and the fat increases the solubility of the lutein in the fluid.’

The more lutein dissolved into a smoothie, the more it can be absorbed by the body, the scientists suggested.

Whereas cooking spinach for a long time at a high heat – such as in a lasagne or frying it – is the most damaging way to prepare the green vegetable.

A meal cooked at a lower heat, like a stew, retains more of the vitamin, with heating spinach in a microwave also potentially being a healthier option, the study suggests.

Study author Professor Lena Jonasson, from the department of medical and health sciences, said: ‘What is unique about this study is that we have used preparation methods that are often used when cooking food at home.

‘And we have compared several temperatures and heating times.

‘We have also investigated methods of preparation in which the spinach is eaten cold, such as in salads and smoothies.’

The research was published in the journal Food Chemistry.

Lutein has been shown to help reduce chronic swelling in the blood vessels of people with coronary artery disease, which can lower their risk of a heart attack.

It is also referred to as the ‘eye vitamin’ because lutein it is thought to protect against damage from sunlight.

Article from The Daily Mail

5 Gentle Exercises That Can Help To Relieve Pain

Don’t be afraid to get moving.

Exercise is just one module covered in Living Free From’s “How To Reduce Pain Naturally” Course.  We are offering a First Months Trial Price for ONLY £5.00.  You are FREE to cancel your membership at any time.
For more information click on the link below.

When you suffer from back pain, or pain in your joints, it’s tempting to stop exercising because you’re afraid you’ll do yourself more damage. But joints are designed to move, and your spine is incredibly strong and flexible, with bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles all working together to keep you upright and mobile. If you don’t exercise, joints can become stiff and muscles become weaker, making moving more difficult and painful.

Exercise is important for many reasons: it eases stiffness, makes joints more mobile, strengthens the muscles that support your back and other joints, improves fitness and heart health, develops strong bones and helps you maintain a healthy weight so you put less strain on your back and joints. And exercise has a positive effect on mental health too, helping you cope with pain – who doesn’t feel better after a brisk walk in the fresh air?

While we’re not suggesting you attempt gymnastics or a triathlon, there are plenty of gentle exercises you can do to help relieve pain. You can also use a topical pain relief gel such as Voltarol to help ease pain and inflammation at the source.

Try some of these five gentle exercises to help relieve pain:


Whether you choose to go for long rambles in the countryside with the dog or leave the car at home and walk to the shops, walking gets you out and moving, helping to relieve pain in surprising ways. It helps you build stamina, burns calories to help you maintain a healthy weight and improves cardiovascular health. Even a daily 10-minute brisk walk brings health benefits. Walking lifts your mood, especially if you do it with a friend.You can even build the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku – ‘forest bathing’ into your walks: walking mindfully in woodland environments can be good for your body and soul.


Swimming is a wonderful exercise if you have back or joint pain as it’s non-weight bearing. The water supports your body, taking the strain off painful joints or areas so you can move them more easily and fluidly. Being in water is also deeply relaxing, helping you to unclench muscles that you may be consciously or unconsciously tensing up because of pain. Simply swimming up and down a pool may be enough to manage your pain, and if you feel you want to increase mobility further, sign up for aqua aerobics or aquafit classes – full body workouts with the added benefit of buoyancy in the water – at your local pool.


Pilates exercises strengthen the whole body, particularly your core – muscles in your abdomen, pelvic area, lower back and hips – to improve your posture, stability, mobility and balance.  Research suggests that Pilates can relieve some non-specific lower back pain, and the NHS advises that it can help people with arthritis to improve their  joint mobility. A physiotherapist is the best person to advise you on the most suitable Pilates exercises for you as an individual to relieve your specific pain before you join a class with a qualified teacher.

T’ai chi

Sometimes described as the slowed-down form of a martial art developed in 13th-century China, t’ai chi combines graceful, flowing movements with controlled deep breathing and meditative relaxation. There’s some evidence that t’ai chi can help relieve lower back pain and chronic pain of osteoarthritis. As well as reducing stress, improving mobility, posture and balance, t’ai chi is excellent for strengthening muscles in the upper body and lower body. Find a local class with an instructor who will teach you the correct style of movement before practising at home.


An ancient form of exercise originally from India, yoga’s focus is on flexibility, strength and controlled breathing. This combination enhances both your physical and mental wellbeing, keeping you moving and keeping you feeling positive – both of which help to manage pain. There’s also some evidence that practising yoga regularly can help reduce lower back pain. Yoga improves your balance and flexibility to help you move naturally and fluidly. You can practice yoga at any age; find a class with a qualified yoga teacher who will show you the correct way to perform the postures (asanas) before you try them at home.

Article From Huffington Post
Click Here to visit Huffington Post

How Much Sleep Do I Need Each Night?

This question is often asked.  And the answer is normally as much as your body needs.  It’s a fact that many of us get too few hours sleep and our bodies suffer as a result of sleep deprivation.  Here’s an interesting article looking at a study into the effects of sleep and heart health.

Study reveals how many hours sleep to get each night for a healthy heart

Getting too much or too little sleep can heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease, study finds

Sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations
Sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations ( Getty )

Six to eight hours sleep a night is most beneficial for the heart. with more or less shut-eye potentially heightening the risk of coronary artery disease or a stroke, researchers have warned.

Using data from more than one million adults, scientists found that both sleep deprivation and excessive hours in bed should be avoided for optimum heart health.

Those who slept for fewer than six hours per night or more than eight hours were at an increased risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or a stroke, according to the study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany.

Compared to adults who got six to eight hours of slumber a night, “short sleepers” had an 11 per cent greater risk while “long sleepers” had a 33 per cent increased risk over the next nine years, the researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart,” said study author Dr Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis cardiac surgery centre in Athens.

“More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations – all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease.”

“Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided,” Dr Fountas added.

Emily McGrath, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, stressed that getting a good night’s sleep was important for good health.

She said: “When it comes to our heart and circulatory health, this large study suggests that there may be a sweet spot between getting too much, and getting too little sleep.

“This research needn’t trigger alarm bells for those of us partial to a sleepless night or a weekend lie-in. However, if you regularly struggle with your sleep, it’s an important reminder to speak to your GP.

“As well as having a negative impact on your quality of life, a lack of sleep could also be contributing to heart health problems further down the line.”

From The Independent

The Art of Decluttering


Learning to live a Simple Life is a process and a journey.  It’s not something that happens overnight.  The journey involves creating good habits, one habit at a time, and working on them until they stick and become a natural part of our daily rhythms.

Decluttering is one of those good habits.

It’s not just about having a tidy home, although that is the eventual outcome, but it’s choosing to clear away all those things that are not essential to our lives, clearing out the years and sometimes decades worth of “stuff” that we collect and hoard.

Often, and I include myself in this, I make excuses as to why I don’t want to deal with it – There’s too much to sort through, it’s too overwhelming, I’ve got too busy, I’m too tired.  Excuse after excuse.  We procrastinate.  And, as it turns out, we can become very good at procrastinating.  But clutter is procrastination!

So it’s time to deal with the excuses, face them head on, and start with one small step at a time.

  • Start small – Choose one small area, a drawer, a cupboard, a worktop, wherever it may be.  Clear the space completely and only put back, neatly, what you really need.  Get rid of the rest – throw it, recycle it, sell it, donate it.  Job done.  You’ve taken your first step.
  • Repeat – one small area at a time – Feel good about what you’ve achieved so far, but there’s a long way to go to clear your whole house!  The only way is small steps.  Set aside 10 minutes a day or longer if you get into it.  Maybe spend an evening, a day off, or a weekend if you feel like it and tackle a much bigger area.  Don’t panic.  If that still feels too overwhelming just keep the momentum going and tackle another small area on a regular basis.  It’s not a race.  It’s the continued progress that we want, however small the steps may be.
  • A simple method – It’s helpful to have a simple method as you declutter.  I would suggest clearing the area into a pile, and then working through that pile one item at a time.  Ask yourself, “Do I need this, do I use it?”  If the answer is “Yes”, then place it back, if the answer is “No” then get rid of it.  Try not to think for too long.  Try to make a quick decision.  Hopefully you should be able to work through a pile quickly deciding “Yes”, or “No”.  Bag up your “No” pile, place it by the door and get rid of it as soon as you can.  You’ll find there’s a release and sense of achievement as you give the items away.
  •  The 6 month rule – If you really can’t decide whether to keep an item or not then place it in a box with the date written on it.  If, after 6 months, you haven’t used that item then it’s time to get rid of it.
  • Keepsakes and Momentos – For most people these are the hardest things to part with.  We all have things that have a sentimental value or a reminder of someone or some event in our past.  These people and times are part of our journey through life.  Sort through them carefully and get rid of anything that you know longer want, or can’t even remember why you kept it.   For those items you would like to keep consider creating a scrap book or something similar to keep them all together.
  • Enjoy the journey – Recognise that decluttering is much more than just tidying.  It’s a process, working towards living a more simple life.  Enjoy the journey.  Rather than seeing it as a challenge or something that has to be done, relax and embrace the process.  Ultimately it leads to a less cluttered home, a change in your attitude towards “things”, and a more peaceful and relaxing environment in which to live.

It may take months to clear your home, but step by step you can get there.  Decluttering ultimately leads to a less cluttered home, a change in your attitude towards “things”, and a more peaceful and relaxing environment in which to live.