What Marie Kondo Is REALLY Saying (Plus TIPS!)

We’ve all been watching Netflix and learning how tidying up can create a beautiful sense of calm in our lives. Proponents of her “KonMarie” method share that it has helped them to reduce their stress levels in every area of their lives through the *simple* act of tidying up. Being raised by the OG Marie Kondo (my mama!), I have always valued tidiness, clean spaces, less clutter, a place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place, using boxes to “house things”, and things that “spark joy” in my home. I assign it as homework in my book and my OBAAT program, for my students to clean their bedrooms from top to bottom. Our bedrooms are for sleep and sex: Period. So, having a neat and tidy bedroom allows you to relax and unwind after the day is done.

Of course, I encourage them to go further, but our bedrooms usually house our closets and drawers with our clothing and other items that we may be hanging onto “just because”. I encourage everyone to heed Marie’s advice when debating whether to hold onto something or else let it go. She instructs us to hold each item in our hands and ask if it “sparks joy”. If yes, we should have a FEELING when we hold it. Perhaps start with your absolute favourite item–one you’d never consider giving up–in order to feel that feeling. Then, for items that don’t spark joy, gently place them in the “donate” or “garbage” pile and thank them for all they gave to you while you owned them. In this way, we can train ourselves to be more mindful when buying new things so that we truly only buy the things we need and that indeed spark joy for us.

“Marie Kondo’ing” your entire home can be a fun practice that the whole family can join in on! Maybe choose one evening and an hour or two each weekend until it’s all done. Or, spend a few solid weeks/weekends doing the work. However you choose to tidy up, remember that our external environment reflects our internal world, so if you want more peace and calm in your life, start with the space you live in and watch your life transform.

It truly is remarkable what happens, and if you’re not already watching Marie’s show, I highly recommend seeing how spaces and lives are transformed. As I mentioned, my own mother was the “original Marie Kondo” and she has a great tip that I thought I’d share by video. I’d love to hear your comments, below, if YOU do this or if you will start doing it!

Ok, now, if everything is neat and tidy and yet you are still feeling like your whole world is noisy and you just need to CALM DOWN, I wanted to share these 10 strategies that have worked nicely in my own life. Meditation is one tool that I use regularly that really helps keep me centred and calm, and it was a strategy that Dr. Sarah Vadeboncoeur suggested (among others) when I had her on my talk show a few months ago (click here to watch the episode). But for those of you who JUST CAN’T MEDITATE, here are some other ideas that I hope will help you:

  1. Turn off the news. It is noisy and most often negative and it mires us in fear. It also gets regurgitated over and over again, so while you may insist on knowing “what’s going on”, you can set a limit–say, 20 minutes–to get the headlines and then get out of there! Remember, only ONE generation ago, news happened at 6 pm and 11 pm. Period. Now, we are bombarded–assaulted–every minute of every day through our TVs and computers and smart phones. News is on at my dentist’s office (IN THE CHAIR!) and in hotel lobbies and restaurants. It’s insidious. And our health is paying the price. Instead, turn off the news, turn on some comedy or something light or inspirational (might I suggest Tidying Up with Marie Kondo?!) or do something else altogether. It may just be the best gift you can give yourself.
  2. Go outside. Nature provides us an opportunity to be in the present moment–something that the ego desperately wants to keep us away from. Being in nature allows you to just BE, in a way that other activities can not. Try to enlist all your senses—sight, smell, touch, sound and even taste (maple sap? Parsley? A chive? Snow?) to get the most out of your time in nature. Pondering the beauty of a flower is not meaningless; it might just be the most meaningful thing you do all day.
  3. Make a meal. When we are ruminating over the past or worrying about the future, we are unable to be in the present moment. When we can get our butts off the couch and into the kitchen to properly cook for ourselves rather than microwaving something, heating up takeout or opening a package on the stove, we can stay in the present moment, which calms us down naturally. When we need to read a recipe, we HAVE to stay present or else things don’t work out too well! When we touch and smell real, whole ingredients, and chop, sauté and bake our food, we are signaling to our bodies that we are caring for them, which can also work to reduce our stress.
  4. Call or visit a friend. Connection has the ability to improve our mental health because we can share how we are feeling with another human being. It’s hard to open up and share our struggles, but what most often happens is that our friends will then want to share their struggles with us, as well. So, not only do we get things off our own chest, but we support our friends and loved ones to do the same as well. Win-win.
  5. Have sex. Speaking of win-win, you know when you’re super stressed out and the last thing on your mind is having sex? Well, it might just be the best thing to calm you down! Orgasm releases oxytocin which in turn lowers cortisol, the main stress hormone. Most of us live with chronically elevated cortisol levels, and sex is one way to lower it in a very pleasurable way. If you “never have time for it”, I suggest scheduling it in just like you would a meeting. Make it a non-negotiable, which can also release any awkwardness around “will we or won’t we?” and see how quickly your new habit becomes one you truly look forward to! Remember, even if you’re single, it’s important to spend some quality time solo.
  6. Organize your finances. This may seem like the last thing that will make you feel calm, but financial stress is at the top of the list for many people, so getting organized in this area can be a real game-changer. When we can take some time to go through our bills, noting what’s due and when, creating a budget, filing things away or shredding them, and looking at our receipts even just for the past week, it can help us make different choices moving forward. Plus, we can become more discerning about the things we buy and choose to only buy things from now on that “spark joy” for us.
  7. Create something. Did you know that 15 minutes of colouring is the equivalent to a one hour meditation? It’s true! So, if you just cannnnn’t meditate, consider picking up an adult colouring book (they are everywhere) and enjoy channeling your inner child. Even just a doodle drawing while sipping a cup of tea can work wonders on lowering our cortisol levels. So, break out your kids’ markers and pencil crayons and have some fun!
  8. Swap a coffee for green tea. There is no doubt about it: coffee is delicious. But, if you struggle with stress or anxiety, it may be making things worse. Same with black tea. The caffeine can tend to make us jumpy, jittery and more anxious. Try swapping out one of your cups of coffee or black tea for a cup of green tea and receive the “lift” without the “jitters”. Add in some freshly squeezed lemon to maximize the antioxidant effect in your cup. OR, wean down from caffeine by eliminating one cup of it a day and replacing it with an herbal tea or glass of fresh water until you are down to zero caffeinated beverages per day. Track how you feel for a week before deciding to re-introduce caffeine. Many people I work with who struggle with anxiety feel 1000 times better after ditching caffeine.
  9. Create a ritual: At the end of a busy work day, it can feel like the to-do list never ends! Laundry, cooking, cleaning, running people around, it can all become too much. Signal to your subconscious (and your family!) that you are treating yourself to some YOU time by creating a ritual. Choose some or all of these suggestions, or create your own ritual that feels good to you. Go for a walk after dinner; Listen to some soft music (I really like this for relaxing) while reading your favourite magazine; Close your eyes while you diffuse some essential oils (I am obsessed with my diffuser and essential oil blends) and breathe in the goodness–exhale the stress; Take a warm bath with epsom salts; Create a gratitude journal; Practice some deep breathing techniques (I like Dr. Weil’s). Anything goes when it comes to creating your own ritual; just make sure it is something that helps you to get calm and reduce your stress while you do it.
  10. Smile. It’s hard to be angry or stressed when we are smiling! We can tend to be very serious in our lives because serious things are happening. Family members get sick and pass away. Our kids go through challenges. Bills pile up. Cars break down. Trips need to be arranged. Work has to get done. Whenever I am feeling stressed out, I like to put a little–ever so little–smile on my face. I close my eyes and take a deep breath in and out. I keep the smile there for a few minutes (or longer, if it decides to stay) and it reminds me that I may not be able to control everything that’s happening, but that I DO get to choose how I will respond. If we can have a smile on our faces more often than not, we will signal to our subconscious to find more things to smile about. Before we know it, we will be smiling far more often than we were. Any improvement is good, so I encourage you to try to take notice of how often you are smiling now and work on increasing it if you are overly stressed or negative a lot of the time.

I hope these tips help you to see how important it is to “tidy up” the external and internal areas of our lives that are causing us stress. While we cannot control everything that’s happening in the news and our greater world, there is so much we can control inside of ourselves and our lives. Life isn’t easy, but we can actively work to make it more or less stressful based on our own attitude and behaviour.

I seek to find more ways to calm down and live with less stress rather than continuing to pile it on top of myself by buying more than I need (creating financial stress along with clutter), eating poorly and more than I need to (creating physical, mental and emotional stress), wigging out on caffeine (making me even more stressed and anxious), listening to the news 24-7 (which adds fuel to the fire), being angry more than necessary (anger is a habit that can be broken), and connecting with others and nature (so that I can stay present–and grateful–in the NOW).

Because NOW is all we ever really have. 

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.


P.S. Perhaps you’d like to de-stress with a positive intention every day for 14 days. If so, sign up for my 14 Days of Wellness! Enter your name and email address up on the right to begin receiving the messages today. It’s free, with no diets, products, challenges or catches…just a chance to remember how amazing your brain–and body is–for 14 days.

P.P.S. Speaking of brains and bodies, on May 4th and 5th, 2019, Roger and I are hosting The Healthy Brain and Body Show for our THIRD year! We are so excited to bring this show back even bigger and better! We would love to see you there as an attendee, where we have so much we want to share with you. We can’t wait to explore, connect, learn and shop at the show WITH you! Please say hello if you come. Roger and I will both be there the entire weekend. It would be a thrill to meet you. 🙂


P.P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. Plus, as a thank you for joining, you will receive my 14 Days of Wellness. https://sarahtalksfood.com/



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