‘Does it spark joy?’ How to get rid of sentimental possessions

Welcome to blue self storage’s self-help guide to divesting yourself of emotional baggage and items of sentimental value. Yep, this is a big one!

Are you wondering how to get rid of sentimental possessions? Can’t quite let an item go? Or have possessions in your home that are loaded with memories but no longer spark joy?

Lucky for you, blue self storage is here to help you cast off the reins of emotional distress and embrace minimalism – this is one powerful blog!

Whether it’s heirlooms passed down by parents, mementos from your childhood, or things from your children’s upbringing, we all tend to hold on to items. We invest emotions and memories, both good and bad.

And if you’ve ever lost a parent or loved one it can be even more difficult to let these items go – leading to clutter, spare rooms filled with someone else’s treasured possessions, arguments, yadda yadda, you get the sad drift.



How do you know if it ‘sparks joy’?

Items that spark joy are possessions that would feel crushing to lose – they make you too happy to get rid of.

The question of items ‘sparking joy’ first came to light in January 2019 (although it was floating about in the popular sphere since 2013 at least).

It springs from Marie Kondo and her ‘KonMari’ method, which “consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that ‘spark joy’ and choosing a place for everything from then on.”

She’s a one-woman pioneer for minimalism and sensible living, and we recommend giving her Netflix show a watch.

We’ve used Marie Kondo’s formula & passion for home decluttering to help you ‘lose the baggage’ for good – trust us, you’ll feel better for giving these items a new home.

How to get rid of sentimental possessions – 9 easy tips:

  1. Start with the non-sentimental, practical stuff
  2. Say goodbye properly
  3. Take photos and digitize your memories
  4. Repurpose items to breathe fresh life into them
  5. Get rid of items that don’t make you happy
  6. Don’t let presents ruin your future
  7. Break up a collection
  8. Plan what you’re going to do with all that space
  9. Learn to live in the now

Yet before you get started, it’s a good idea to get a few items together to help you on this journey. These are:

  • Rubbish bags – for stuff you’re removing
  • Storage boxes – for things you’re not sure on yet
  • Scrapbooks and shadow boxes – for items you want to display

And have plenty of these to hand – you don’t want to lose momentum by nipping to the shops to get more during your sorting sessions.

Another great thing to do is make a list of everything you treasure and want to keep before you go in the attic, room, wherever it is stored. If you can’t recall it before you go in there, ask yourself this; do you really need to keep it?

OK, so let’s look in more detail at those 9 tips for parting with difficult items.

Old Kettles for decluttering sentimental items blog

Start with non-sentimental stuff

Depending on how much you have to go through, it can be a good idea to start with non-sentimental items.

Maybe you’re sorting out a family member’s property after they’ve gone into a home or have recently passed away. It may be easier to begin this emotional process by starting in the bathroom or the kitchen.

Why? Because there is unlikely to be items with a lot of memories attached to them in these rooms. Begin here and you can build up some momentum before tackling other rooms and items with more sentimental weight.

Goodbye sign for decluttering sentimental items

Say goodbye properly

Some people find closure in saying goodbye to items before letting go of them. This could be as big or as small as you feel is appropriate.

For some, a type of ceremony will feel right, while for others a simple goodbye will be enough. Doing so can draw a curtain over it, making it easier to discard of the item.

Old photos for for decluttering sentimental items

Take photos and digitize your memories

We live in the golden age of the magical cloud, so take advantage of virtual storage to hold on to memories with Google Drive or Dropbox.

And it’s not just about scanning old photos and documents. Taking pictures of bulky items can be a way of holding on to memories without holding on to the thing itself. There’s even 3-D scanning available if you want to go the whole hog.

Jewellery for for decluttering sentimental items

Repurpose items to breathe fresh life into them

This works best with clothing and jewellery especially. If you have heirlooms and hand-me-downs that you cherish but can’t see yourself wearing again, then consider refashioning them into something you would. Reset a precious stone in a ring or take a snippet of a dress to carry on remembering without holding on to an item you simply won’t wear.

Pro tip: If you have absolutely no impetus to repurpose or upcycle old items, and you know you won’t get around to it, then let them go. Put them in a charity shop where someone else can love them and give them life.

Get rid of items that don’t make you happy

Quite frankly, there’s no point in keeping hold of things that hold bad memories. You don’t need them weighing you down and you don’t need them in your life.

If you look at an item and it doesn’t make you happy then bin it or donate it.

Don’t let presents ruin your future

We tend to think that we need to hold on to gifts out of some sense of loyalty and guilt. We get it; it’s sad when someone has chosen a gift for you that wasn’t quite right.

But realistically, most gift-givers don’t expect to see you using it or displaying it – it’s not a fair expectation. It’s a gift after all and it’s up to you what you do with it.

And we’re gonna extend this to greetings cards. Did the person hand-make it? Then you might want to keep it. If the card came from the Clintons, is it really that special? Be strong – we believe in you!

Break up a collection

Have you inherited your mamgu’s Toby Jug collection? Your uncle’s Groggs? Then consider keeping one of them to remind you of it and move on to the rest. Unless of course, it comes as a set – we’ve all watched Antiques Roadshow – then you should sell them together.

Plan what you’re going to do with all that space

This whole process, this journey if you will, can be emotionally draining. So try to focus on the positives you’ll get from letting go of these items.

Think, plan, and fantasise about what you’re going to do with the space you’ll create. We’ve made some Pinterest boards on minimalist living so you can get excited about aaaaaall that lovely empty space!

Dream about what you’re going to spend the money on from selling some of these items. Think about how much joy these items will bring to people in their new homes. Lastly, cherish the freedom and clarity you’ll have by moving on.

Learn to live in the now

Taking a leaf out of mindfulness, learn to treasure the moment we are all in. Let go of the past, nostalgia can hold a lot of us back. Instead, listen to Garth and LIVE IN THE NOW.  You might just find happiness here.

Ultimately it’s important to remember that your memories are not held within the physical possessions that you own. They simply trigger them within you (and that’s why taking a photo of it can be just as good).

However, you don’t have to jettison everything that holds sentimental value for you.

So, if you’re not quite ready to throw away these mementoes but still need to create space then blue self storage can help. We offer containers from 48 sq ft up.

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Looking for some advice? Check out more of our useful info & guides to self storage

Have you decluttered sentimental items recently? Got any tips on what worked and what didn’t work for you? Let us know on our socials!

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