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Cleaning As Self-Care — How Marie Kondo's New Course Can Be Transformative

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Cleaning and organizing comes more naturally to some people than others. A prime example is the queen of tidying herself, Marie Kondo, who admits she's been obsessed with the practice since she was about five years old. After some trial and error, she developed the technique with which she would become synonymous and which made some people think of cleaning as self-care: Paring down your space to the essentials that "spark joy."

If you're not familiar with Kondo's now-famous method (as outlined in her best-selling books and Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo), it might be tough to imagine the act of tidying as something that can actually benefit your mental health — especially if you're someone who struggles to make a habit of it. But an overall sense of calm and focus is exactly what Kondo believes can result from the practice, and that's one reason she launched her latest endeavor, a 10-episode digital tidying course that's a visual tool to help you defeat clutter and clear your mind.

"There is a saying that 'a messy room equals a messy mind,'" Kondo explains to TZR. "When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical. Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder. The act of cluttering is really an instinctive reflex that draws our attention away from the heart of an issue." And if your own cluttered space is causing excess anxiety, the organizing expert says that examining your inner state for the underlying issue is imperative — but clearing out the clutter could help you better reveal it.

As for Kondo's self-care practices outside tidying, she relies on a few daily rituals that help her align mind, body, and spirit. "The first thing I do each day is open the windows to let in fresh air," she explains. "After that, I burn incense, which not only cleanses the atmosphere but also relaxes me." She also practices yoga and meditation in the morning to set the intention for the day ahead.

When it's time for work, while she prefers her office space to be mostly clear, the addition of fresh flowers, a crystal, and a tuning fork help get Kondo into a different mindset and ready to tackle projects. To wind down after a work day, a soothing bath has proved instrumental. "At night — after tidying up with my daughters — I wash off the day and warm my body with a bath," she says. "This ritual is truly essential to my wellbeing. It makes me feel like I’m in an onsen deep in the mountains of Japan — connecting to nature and the elements is deeply nourishing." After bathing, Kondo completes her nightly ritual by journaling and oil diffusing.

And while Kondo makes it all seem so chic and simple, she knows that the mere idea of tidying — as mentally satisfying as it can be — can feel overwhelming to some, but thankfully she has some advice that can further inspire. "Imagine your ideal lifestyle," she says. "Think about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it. If you like drawing, sketch out what it looks like. If you prefer to write, describe it in a notebook. When you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and envisioning your best life."

Need some more visual guidance? Enrolling in her new online course could be the missing link that finally helps you clear out clutter and spark more joy. And if Kondo's own self-care practices seem especially inspiring, find a few stylish and functional housewares ahead that can help you try them out for yourself.

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