How Marie Kondo May Make Us Healthier, as Well as Tidier

Emily Kelley-Brown, MPH, RD, Arivale Coach
Emily Kelley-Brown
MPH, RD, Arivale Coach

Donations at a Goodwill near the nation’s capital were up an astounding 372 percent last month. The donation line at another Goodwill location was 20 cars deep. And, one used bookstore in Chicago got a month’s worth of donations in just two days.

But, the decluttering craze set off by the January premiere of Netflix reality show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo isn’t just good news for the streaming giant (and second-hand shoppers). Ridding ourselves of items that don’t “spark joy” – as Japanese tidying guru Kondo puts it – and eliminating clutter can actually be good for our health, as well as our closets.

Here’s how.

Declutter the bedroom for better sleep.

That tower of laundry, stack of books, and dusty box of college mementos could be impacting your sleep.

Many sleep experts recommend decluttering the bedroom because a messy space may increase stress and anxiety1,2. High stress levels can cause elevations in the hormone cortisol, which can inhibit restful sleep3.

Remember that your bedroom is a place for sleep, not storage.

Keep an area clear for exercise.

If you’re hoping to exercise at home, then preserving space for that to happen is a top priority.

What type of exercise will you do and how much space is needed? Carve out this area and keep the necessary equipment there, whether it be a yoga mat, hand weights, or a treadmill.

Avoid stacking things between the doorway and the exercise space. Any visual or physical barrier can make it harder to get started.

Stock your kitchen with the necessary tools.

Your kitchen can either help or hinder your nutrition goals.

Do you have to sort through dozens of food storage containers to find matching lids for meal prep? Or perhaps you’re trying to make easy, healthy dinners, but your slow cooker is buried at the back of the pantry.

Eliminate these common barriers by organizing your cooking tools to make them easily accessible. Then, get rid of duplicate, broken, or incomplete items.

Store the food you want to be eating.

Have you ever opened the pantry to grab a healthy snack but found yourself derailed by a bag of chips or last year’s Halloween candy instead?

Make your pantry a haven for healthy eating. Start by tossing stale or expired foods, then move onto the foods that aren’t supporting your health goals. Clear those shelves mercilessly, wipe them down, and start fresh with foods that will make you feel good.

Get an emotional boost by donating unexpired food items to the food bank.

Identify your home’s stress points.

If your home causes feelings of stress and anxiety instead of rest and relaxation, then it’s time to make changes.

Remember the stress hormone cortisol mentioned earlier? In addition to impacting sleep, it can lead to elevated blood pressure, weight gain, and slower digestion4.

Additionally, a chaotic environment can make it more difficult to eat mindfully when you’re already feeling out of control5.

Take a moment to identify one area of your home that causes you stress and brainstorm solutions. There’s likely a simple and affordable fix right around the corner.




  1. The National Sleep Foundation. “A great night’s sleep can depend on the visual conditions in your bedroom environment.”
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Preparing Your Bedroom for a Great Night’s Sleep.”
  3. B Bush, T Hudson. “The Role of Cortisol in Sleep.” Natural Medicine Journal, June 2010 Vol. 2 Issue 6
  4. “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” Stress management. Mayo Clinic. April 21, 2016.
  5. L Vartanian, K Kernan, B Wansink. “Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments.” (2016). Environment and Behavior, 49(2), 215-223