Cleaning my dorm room has been at the very bottom of my to-do list lately, right behind finishing a research paper I have not even started yet. When my dorm is a mess, I find myself dreading going back to my room at night. Though I have not not made much of an effort to pick up the mess in my room, I recently came to realize that the physical clutter and excess of things in my bedroom has been putting unnecessary stress in my life.

The clutter distracted me for days on end and started to become my biggest stressor, ahead of school, family, and work. I finally went through my room and tried to talk myself through what could go and what could stay. The boots I wore once freshman year, the shirt I donned happily at Cornstock last spring, and my book on marsupials all felt like things I surely could not let go of. I needed to take a step back. What about these items was so important to me? Sure, the memories I have surrounding those items may be important, but none of them are of my most important possessions.

When most people hear the word minimalist, they usually imagine someone who lives in a tiny home and only owns one pair of jeans. While a lot of assumptions can be made about adopting more of a minimalist lifestyle, scaling back on your possessions has its benefits. As you begin to clean your room before heading back home for the summer, consider adopting a minimalist lifestyle to cut down on clutter, reevaluate what is important to you in life, and then donate your gently used items that you no longer need.

Getting rid of your things can be hard. Memories may be attached to certain items, and it can feel like you are getting rid of a memory by disposing of various items. But it is important to remember that your belongings are not the friendships you create, your personality, or what makes you happy. If you find yourself stuck, make a list of the top ten most expensive things you own. Now, make a list of the top ten things that make you the happiest. You might be shocked to see that your lists will most likely have no overlap.

By no means do I think that you should get rid of all of your clothing, DVDs, and books, but I do think that spring cleaning is a great time to evaluate and remind yourself of what belongings are important to you and bring you joy. It is important to remember that by letting your possessions define you, you create an unnecessary dependence on material things.

To start, look in your closet. If you have not worn something in a year, it needs to be donated. If you have excess clutter on your surfaces such as your desk or bookcase, look at what you use frequently and what has not been used at all. If you have too much food in your pantry, consider donating whatever unopened and nonperishable food you know you will not eat. Make sure to recycle, donate, and throw away whatever you do not need appropriately.

By freeing up space in your room, you will have room to promote the things you value most and get rid of anything that distracts you from that. If you become too dependent on your things, the things you own end up owning you.