Clutter-free in Maple Grove

Three experts chime in on how to clean the clutter in life.
Experts Stacy Monson, Cathy Malmon and Jenny Reimann offer some good advice.

School is over, spring cleaning is done. With the birds chirping and the summer breezes wafting through the windows, why not take the chance to clean up the clutter in your personal life? From spiritual writers to wellness counselors, three professionals identify some of the common stressors in everyday life and give suggestions on how to reclaim a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Cathy Malmon, a licensed marriage and family therapist and co-owner of the Calli Institute, says the biggest daily stressors revolve around a fast-paced life—work, children, our own needs and aging parents are just a few of the expectations we manage. “People take less time for themselves and they over-program their lives, leaving less time to play and just be quiet and still,” Malmon says. She also suggests that wellness incorporates a blend of nutrition and social activities. According to Stacy Monson, a Christian writer who also works in the aging services, a busy lifestyle can lead to the feeling of inadequacy and exhaustion. “Sometimes we are not supposed to do things,” she says, “and when we do do those things, we are taking up someone else’s meaningful work.” Monson’s biggest suggestion is to eliminate clutter, whether that be cutting back on activities, or cleaning up a mess in the house. “You can’t live in chaos, and have a calm spirit,” Monson says. She also advises focusing on the “here and now” and participating in meaningful activities rather than piling on as much as possible. Ultimately, a focused life is a balanced life, she suggests. Jenny Reimman, psychotherapist at the Reimann Counseling Clinic, agrees that it’s critical to understand what you want from life. She suggests listing all the things you’ve always wanted to do and then, simply doing them. “That would bring stress down the quickest,” she says. Malmon echoes the idea of being aware of your own desires and of how you spend your time. Oftentimes, she helps clients think this through by asking them to notice how much time they spend in quiet or in movement, preparing a meal, or sitting down without distraction. She continually highlights balance: “exercise, good food, rest, play, leisure, activities, movement and community. A community could include family and friends, church or other spiritual outlets,” she says. For Malmon, spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean having a religious base, it’s about having a connection with the universe or community and having an outward focus. Monson couldn’t agree more, adding that her foundation in life happens to be her faith. “[When you] do what you are gifted to do, that’s where you find happiness,” she says, “Happiness is understanding what matters.” Reimann says that the definition of happiness is individualized, but overall, happiness is a feeling of contentment. “It’s feeling okay and content with one’s life which in turn means balance, having all areas in your life where you want them,” she says. “Then, if something happens, you will feel that you can handle it, and it’s not going to put you out of orbit.” Because people oftentimes read about how to change their life but tend not to take action, Reimann proposes that self-help books are generally not the most effective way to move toward balancing your health and wellness. Some active resources that our three experts do suggest include talking to a family doctor, finding community programs or classes that pertain to your interests and engaging with friends and family.