Team Simply Spaced recently worked with one of our favorite new clients, behavioral scientist Dr. Zelana Montminy.
After an incredible couple of weeks getting her settled in her new home, we wanted to dive deeper to find out more about the connection between organization and mental health.
This month we sat down to find out why she reached out to us, and to learn a little more about the most significant aspects of getting organized from her expert point of view.
Much like anything we invest in as adults, getting organized is often thought of as a luxury or frivolous afterthought, but with the newfound interest in all things order (as evidenced by some of the most popular tic tocks), people are craving order more than ever. After a year of chaos, confusion, and uncertainty on the home front, (re)gaining control over our environment is proving to be a necessary step in moving forward with calm confidence.
Organization and Mental Health
An interview with Dr. Zelana Montminy
MONICA: Organization is definitely in the zeitgeist these days, what prompted you to reach out to Simply Spaced?
DR. ZELANA: You came by referral from a friend but I had other referrals too. I chose to work with you specifically but I really connected with your style and aesthetic, your thoughtfulness about lifestyle, form meeting function, and your general vibe!
MONICA: That’s super thoughtful of you to say. It was such a pleasure working with you. What would you say was the most significant aspect of the organizing process for you?
DR. ZELANA: Honestly, every part of it was significant. The purging of my things I do often anyway on my own, but going even deeper into it with you and your team was cathartic… a very freeing feeling, like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. Then just seeing everything own its place in the home, knowing where it’s meant to be, streamlined my life so much. Our life is so busy with careers, three kids, plus everything else, visually seeing and knowing that my home is organized in a thoughtful, simple way just makes it so much easier to free up my mind so I can focus on doing what I need to do vs being bogged down by disorganization and clutter.
MONICA: I think that’s the key! Getting organized really frees up space for you to lean into the things you need to be focused on rather than being consumed with decision fatigue.
MONICA: Why do you think organization is key to cultivating resilience and emotional equilibrium?
DR. ZELANA: Organization helps us gain control of our environment. When we feel in control, we’re better able to focus on what we need to do for ourselves. Getting organized lowers stress, and increases calm and focus, and has a myriad of other benefits. When things are out of order, it also takes us more time to find what we need and we feel like we’re spiraling, which impacts our mental health significantly. One study showed that women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were “restful” and “restorative.”
MONICA: That’s so interesting. I can relate to the cortisol levels rising in my own home because I am a gold married to a bronze. I know your husband is a gold, can you speak to your understanding of the different clutter personalities?
DR. ZELANA: Yes he’s a definite gold and over the years, my gold has shifted to silver or perhaps even bronze given everything else I have to prioritize as a mom of three with a career!
MONICA: That is completely normal and it’s why I advocate for women to get the help they need on the home-front. Identifying your clutter capacity can help you understand the various clutter personalities in your home and be a stepping stone to creating systems that work for and support everyone.
MONICA: In what ways has clutter affected your behavior/mental health?
DR. ZELANA: I’ve experienced all of what I mentioned above myself as well so I know it’s true! When things are cluttered, I feel completely overwhelmed and out of sorts. As a mom of three young kids, there’s always so much to keep track of both within the home and also outside the home. This makes it that much more important to have things streamlined, functional, and orderly.
MONICA: I wrote a book teaching people my methodology and process because I am actually not a natural-born organizer. I’m more of a creative person who realized that being organized was a game-changer for creative output. Do you think organizational principles can be learned?
DR. ZELANA: 100%. Any skill can be learned. It just takes time, dedication/repetition, and the right teachers :). It can be learned at any stage in life, and especially important to teach kids from a young age.
MONICA: I agree, it’s one of the reasons I encourage parents to involve their kids in maintaining the systems we create. In what ways has getting organized helped you perform at a high level?
DR. ZELANA: It has freed my mind and calmed me, so I can focus on my priorities. Clearing the physical clutter literally clears the emotional and mental clutter too.
MONICA: Is there anything else you’d like to share from your experience and the correlation between organization and mental health?
DR. ZELANA: Organization is something that people don’t often think about when it comes to mental health but it’s a surefire way to help create equilibrium. I think it’s such a critical piece of the mental health journey and something that should be integrated as a necessity to emotional health.
It’s clear that there is a very distinct link between organization and mental health for certain people like Dr.Zelana and myself. I often say, I wish I was more like my bronze husband so that I could create better amidst the chaos. Alas, I like you, if you are reading this, crave calm and order at home. But that’s why we are here, showing up to help you learn the latest and greatest tips to live your best life, starting at home. Thank you so much to Dr. Zelana! It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you and your beautiful family.
For more tips, inspo and our exact 3 step method we use in each client’s space, check out my book Simply Spaced, Clear the Clutter and Style Your Life, available on Amazon.
And as a little helpful end-cap, here are some of the products pictured: