Trade for prosperity

To most of us, the thought of having a good clear out and getting rid of our old and unused possessions can often feel overwhelming, thanks to all the emotions we attach to our belongings. From that pressed flower given to us by our first love decades ago, to a stuffed toy we cuddled in bed as a child, it’s hard to let go of things we attach to a fond memory. However, with the average person stashing away unwanted household items worth £514 – that’s £32.7 billion as a nation! – it’s high time you took a good look at the objects in and around your home to help your health and wellbeing – as well as leaving you with tons more space to enjoy!

As a nation we spend a staggering 110 days of our lives looking for lost objects
(Source: DirectLine Group)

Decluttering is good for the body

For a start, eradicating unwanted objects from your life has a host of proven benefits to see an improvement in your health. Sufferer of asthma or allergies? By decluttering your house you’ll be able to clean areas you couldn’t get to before, be it under the bed or inside your cupboards, reducing dust, mould and mildew which can irritate your lungs and trigger an attack. What’s more, by having a good ‘spring clean’ – regardless of the time of year – you’re also being active, with vacuuming those now reachable areas alone burning around 80 calories for half an hour. Then there’s all the dusting to be done, with you again able to burn approximately 174 calories in an hour. And don’t forget about the benefit of decluttering helping your quality of sleep, with research discovering there’s a direct link between sleep deprivation and high levels of clutter. A good night’s slumber is essential for your health, with a lack of it linked to chronic conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke, so saying goodbye to those never-used items once and for all is one step further to better health overall.

Decluttering is good for the mind

We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘a tidy house equals a tidy mind’ – and this in fact is pretty much the case! The facts speak for themselves, with a study revealing that women who described their living spaces as cluttered more likely to be fatigued and depressed than women who described their homes as restful and restorative. What’s more, the same research showed that women with messy or cluttered homes had higher levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, meaning that whether consciously or sub-consciously their messy abodes were making them anxious. Being surrounded by clutter can even make you less effective when it comes to work, due to your brain finding it harder to process information, leading to you becoming frustrated at your surroundings and leading to you putting off the tasks in hand.

Five Stress-Free Ways to Declutter

1 Start Small

Set aside a reasonable amount of time to focus on one particular room or area, sticking to a specific manageable chunk to prevent things from becoming overwhelming. It can be all-too easy to tell yourself you’ll focus on just the one drawer, only to move one item to another area and find yourself sorting through that pile as well. The last thing you need is to create more mess than you started with, so be strict with yourself and stop when the task you wanted to complete is done and dusted.

2 Be strict

Now’s the time to put those emotions we spoke about to one side, beginning by pulling out items from areas such as sheds, garages and lofts, which are spaces we typically dump items in that we aren’t too sure what to do with. With a recent survey showing that 68% of UK motorists can’t fit their cars in the garage as they were too full of junk, it’s essential you think carefully when decluttering your home to make sure you’re not holding on to items for the wrong reasons. Typical questions to ask yourself are ‘How long has it been since I last used it?’, ‘Why have I still got it?’, and ‘Does it make me happy?’. Generally speaking, some experts suggest if you haven’t used or worn the item (seasonal fashions aside) in over six months then it’s time to get rid. Go on – be strict, you’ll be thankful in the long run.

3 Get the family involved

Make sure you work as a team when decluttering your home, to prevent tensions arising when you accidentally throw something away your partner wanted to keep forever. Not only will it halve the time of eradicating unwanted possessions, but you’ll also be able to talk things through when one person wants to throw something away, but the other isn’t quite ready to commit. Be sure to add any children in to helping out. It may be harder for little ones to detach themselves from their old games, books and cuddly toys, so instead compromise and suggest you take the older items out of their room for a couple of weeks and see what they ask back for at the end of it. You’ll be surprised how quickly they forget.

4 There’s cash in the attic

You’ve most definitely been living under a rock if you’ve never watched THAT Only Fools & Horses episode, where Del Boy and Rodney discover the watch they’d stored at the back of their garage for years was in fact worth a cool £6.2 million! Heirlooms and antiques aside, it’s time to bundle up the items you think might be worth a few pounds and take them for valuation now, rather than simply holding on to them for another decade in the hope you’ll make the more at the end of it. Tea sets, side boards, cast iron radiators, clocks and front doors are all great sellers, or instead head to social media and pop unwanted items on there instead. Apart from that, stop holding on to the ‘I’ll sell it one day’ mantra, bundling things together and taking them to your local charity shop, who are always in need of help.

5 Watch out for bad habits

You’ve had a proper clear out and your house is finally back as it should be, only for you to head to the supermarket and see a whopping amount of reduced items you could easily pop in the freezer. Stop and think! The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste in a single year, so if you’ve no imminent plans to use it don’t buy it, meaning you’ll also save money in the process! You should also consider how and where you’ve stored items you wanted to keep. Are they in the right place so they are easy to get out and put back again? If the answer’s no it’s time to think of a new spot, to prevent items building back up again and the mess and clutter returning.

Pharmacists are at the front line of healthcare all over the country. They work from community pharmacies (in high streets and local shopping parades) or healthcare centres, hospitals and doctor’s surgeries.

A community pharmacist will help you assess your medical condition and which medicines you should take for common illnesses. They also dispense NHS medicines and offer patients advice and practical help on keeping healthy.

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and how they are used, giving them a unique set of skills and knowledge.

It is a very responsible job and community pharmacists tend to be highly respected and trusted members of their community.

Pharmacists are also becoming more involved in roles that have traditionally been undertaken by doctors, such as the management and monitoring of long-term conditions, for example asthma and diabetes, as well as delivering vaccinations and conducting medicines reviews.

They also help people give up smoking or lose weight and can advise on sexual health matters. Some community pharmacists run their own businesses and enjoy the challenges of management and having responsibility for staff, stock and premises.

Pharmacists also educate and train other pharmacists and other members of the healthcare team as well as leading a team of pharmacy staff.

Within the next few years, all pharmacists will be qualified to prescribe when they complete their undergraduate training. They also work in other roles where there may be less direct contact with patients, for example in universities, regulation, government organisations, research, publishing and the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and how they are used, giving them a unique set of skills and knowledge.

Why become a pharmacist?

Job security, flexible working, transferable skills, variety and opportunities to specialise are all considered to be among the advantages of becoming a pharmacist. You will have the satisfaction of helping patients and every day will be different.

Qualifications and training

For someone to practise as a pharmacist in England, Wales and Scotland they need to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). In Northern Ireland, they must pass the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland’s registration examination.

Before that, a pharmacist must complete a five-year programme of integrated academic and clinical-based teaching. The first four years will be spent as a student working for a Master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm) at a school of pharmacy at a university followed by a one-year paid work placement.

Entry requirements for the MPharm degree vary between universities. Typically, a student is expected to have A-B grade A-levels in chemistry and two further A-levels in either biology, mathematics or physics. Someone with A-levels in chemistry and biology may also be considered with an alternative third subject.

The degree course combines learning theory with gaining practical skills. It integrates science and practice and equips students with the theoretical knowledge, professional behaviours and clinical skills that are needed to become a pharmacist. Courses cover origin and chemistry of drugs, preparation of medicines, action and uses of drugs and medicines including physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology pharmacy practice. They also cover laws and standards, managing symptoms, promoting healthy lifestyles and advising on drug therapy and medicines use.

Accredited courses must meet the regulator’s standards but programmes vary in their content, the way they are structured and how they are taught and assessed.

A year of practical training gives students the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in real-life situations. The aim of this training year is to demonstrate the trainee has the skills, knowledge and character to practise to the standards expected of a pharmacist.

This year is not just about assessments but about learning how to practise in a way that delivers the best outcomes for patients.

It is a good environment for testing clinical knowledge and clinical judgment but it is also somewhere where trainees are working closely with other pharmacists so they can ask for help if needed. At the end of this year, pharmacists must pass the registration assessment after which they will be able to register and practise.

Registered pharmacists are mandated to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with continuing professional development (CPD) to revalidate their professional licence each year.

Skills needed

Pharmacies are generally busy environments, so being organised, logical, able to manage multiple tasks and an ability to remain calm under pressure are essential traits for a pharmacist.

A good eye for detail and being thorough and accurate is also needed. Good communication skills are required to explain medicines information to patients. Pharmacists are part of a team and often involved in education and training others, so good people skills are also essential.

Training and development

Registered pharmacists are mandated to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with continuing professional development (CPD) to revalidate their professional licence each year.

Want to find out more?

The Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group (CPWDG) is a cross-sector group that brings together the expertise of education, training and professional workforce leads from across the community pharmacy sector. Its website at has information for those who are interested in a career in community pharmacy.