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Declutter and refresh your living spaces for a healthier lifestyle

Wellness is about more than smart food choices and exercise. It’s equally important to focus on the places where we spend the most time: at home, at work and in our cars. On average, most of us spend:

  • At least half of our lives inside our homes.

  • Over 1,700 hours per year at work.

  • Nearly an hour per day commuting or running errands in our vehicles.

Messy living spaces inhibit our ability to concentrate, causing anxiety and stress. Decluttering these spaces can improve your mood, productivity, creativity and overall well-being, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s how you can channel your inner Marie Kondo and organize your home, workspace and car. You may even find a few things you didn’t know you had.

At home

Dusting, sweeping and vacuuming once per week is a great habit, but that alone doesn’t guarantee a healthy living environment. You may not notice at first, but clutter that accumulates on surfaces around our home can make rooms feel restricted and contribute to stress. Here are four quick-wins for a more organized home:

  • Tidying takes time. Make small, maintainable changes by organizing small areas, one at a time.

  • Start by decluttering surfaces you use everyday, like counters, couches and tables, to help clear your mind and give you more space to live in.

  • Gather little-used items in a box. After six months, sell or donate anything from the box that you still haven’t used.

  • Have you gone paperless yet? Cut out excess mail by switching to paperless billing with as many service providers as possible. You can sign up for paperless billing with The Co-operators through Online Services.

Decluttering reduces areas where dust mites – which contribute to allergies and contaminate the air in your home – often gather. Here are some other tips for improving indoor air quality:

  • Set a recurring calendar reminder to change your furnace/AC filter as needed.

  • Keep indoor humidity below 50% to prevent mold and reduce germs. You can monitor your home’s humidity with an inexpensive hygrometer available online or in select stores.

  • Check that your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working and not expired, and consider testing for radon gas.

  • Place indoor plants throughout your home.

In your car

Modern vehicles have compartments, consoles, cup holders and other little nooks to store your things. Too often, these spaces become long-term storage for garbage and odds and ends. Aside from being an eyesore, it can also lead to distracted driving. Keep your car clean:

  • Keep a small garbage bag accessible for trash.

  • Vacuum seasonally to minimize allergies. Remove salt and gravel from floor mats.

  • Use a cloth and hot water to clean the dashboard and doors, rather than chemical cleaners.

  • Set the air conditioner to use recirculated air (if it doesn’t do so automatically).

  • Avoid air fresheners or deodorizers.

  • If you bought a new car in the last six months, occasionally open the windows, as this is when VOC* levels are highest.

At work

A cluttered workspace can increase stress on the job. Increase your productivity and help boost morale by keeping a tidy workspace:

  • Only keep items on your desk that you use every day (computer monitor, phone, keyboard, etc.).

  • Keep a recycling bin nearby and clear all unnecessary papers and Post-its off your desk at the end of each day.

  • Bind computer and phone cables neatly with twist ties.

  • Organize papers into file folders by project and keep them in a drawer nearby.

  • Avoid letting dirty dishes or food containers linger in your workspace.

  • Wipe your desk surface, phone, keyboard and monitor with disinfecting wipes once a week.

  • Consider ergonomics:
    • Keep your monitor at eye level.

    • Use a keyboard with adjustable angles.

    • Try working at a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball for part of the day. Or get up and stretch your legs every hour.

*Volatile organic compounds