Day 2: Tidy up


Oh, I'm sorry. You were probably hoping for something a lot more fun and festive, like making paper snowflakes while watching It's a Wonderful Life, and snacking on fruit-mince tarts. All in good time, I promise!

But today, I want to encourage you to tidy up in order to enjoy Christmas.

This is a useful psychological practice at any time of the year (see below) but, at Christmas, it can become even more important. Christmas brings yet more stuff into our homes: decorations, ornaments, gifts, wrapping paper, food, which can very quickly go from "seasonal festivities" to "mess and clutter." 

Ideally, tidy up before you hang your decorations. We put our tree up last weekend and, before it arrived, I annoyed my entire family by insisting on cleaning the room it was in: picking things up and straightening things out, dusting the shelves and furniture, vacuuming - so that things would at least start out clean and tidy. 

Even if your home is already well and truly in the Christmas spirit, I encourage you to do the best you can, for your own peace of mind. Trust me! Tidying up will make a huge contribution to your sense of calm and quiet this season. 

Here are some scientific reports that help explain what I'm talking about:

  • Avoid depression & fatigue: a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their living spaces as "cluttered" were more likely to experience depression and fatigue
  • Lessen stress hormonesthe same study found that women with cluttered homes experienced higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone 
  • Get more sleep: a survey by the National Sleep Foundation has found that people who make their beds every morning are 19 percent more likely to get a good night's sleep
  • Improve your focusresearchers at Princeton University found that clutter made it more difficult for people to focus on or complete tasks 
  • Stay healthy: a study by Indiana University found that people with clean houses were healthier than people in messy houses 

Today's challenge: 

What can you clean up today? Tidy the house, tidy just one room, half a room, even simply make your bed, if that's all you have time to do.

Try to create at least one space in your home that is clean, tidy, and feels restful. That will be your quiet place, your mental space.

But don't stop there.

If you made your bed today, make it again tomorrow, and make it that one tidy thing you do each day to create a calm home this Christmas. 

If you tidied your lounge room today, try cleaning your kitchen tomorrow. And your bedroom the day after that. Bit by bit, create a living space for yourself that feels clean, restful and calm. 

I really hope you found today's tip useful, and I'll be back tomorrow with another idea for enjoying a calm Christmas. 

In the meantime, let me know how you are getting along. I love hearing from you! Write to me directly at

See you tomorrow!