Last week, I posted the first part of this series on anxiety. If you’re interested in my anxiety backstory + how I stopped my panic attacks, I suggest you start there and then come back to this post.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I am a recovering clutterholic. Until recent years, I had more clutter in my life than I knew what to do with. It was a problem and only made my anxiety and depression worse. While I’m still no minimalist or domestic goddess, I have made huge strides in keeping clutter at bay and it makes a world of difference for my mental health.
Clutter can contribute to anxiety and depression in so many ways. First, it over-stimulates our brains and puts our senses in overdrive. Second, disorganization resulting from clutter can be frustrating and stressful (Have you ever looked for your keys for 45 minutes, lost your debit card, etc? The worst!). The accumulation of clutter can be so overwhelming in itself, as it is a constant reminder that we have so much to do. And finally, in my experience anyway, the guilt and shame carried for having such a clutter-filled life only makes getting out of the anxiety/depression hole that much more difficult.
So, it should be as easy as decluttering, right? Sure. Except, when you’re overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed it’s really difficult to find motivation to declutter or to even know where to begin. I know that struggle well. It took time and practice, but I finally figured out a way to stay on top of clutter in my home, even when my anxiety is really bad.
Here are a few tips that have helped me a lot:
Write down each area of your home that needs decluttering. Make a list from most important (what’s giving you the most stress) to the least important. For me, my priority is my bathroom, as it is the first place I enter every morning and where I get ready. It’s hard to feel good about myself in an area that’s stressing me out. Think about what area of your home is most important and start there. Cross them out as you tackle them for added motivation!
- Start small.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Find a small space that you can tackle first, like the junk drawer. The small win will help keep you motivated to tackle bigger areas.
- Make piles.
You can use boxes or bags, but I just designate areas for things things that I need to give away/donate, a recycle pile, and then a bag for trash. My best tip for this is to put the pile somewhere out of the room but still easily accessible. When I do this, I put the piles in the hallway. That way, they are out of sight and not adding to the cleaning overwhelm.
- Be honest.
I am the former queen of holding onto things purely because of sentiment. Whether it’s something that was given to me, something that belonged to someone who’s passed away, something I really wanted at one time, something I spent good money on, you name it.. I’d keep it. But in doing so, I was just adding to my clutter, to my anxiety, to my depression, and continuing the vicious cycle. You have to let yourself let go. You DESERVE a life with less anxiety. You DESERVE to feel good about the place that you live. Be honest with yourself about what is motivating you to keep an item. If it’s not something you truly LOVE and have use for, let it go.
For the items you decide to keep, make piles of similar things. For example, when I clean out my closet, I put all cardigans together, all dresses together, all skirts together, etc. This way, you can get an accurate visual of how much you really have + be able to find it easily when you need it. This is especially true for anyone with cleaning out their bathroom closets/cabinets. I had duplicates of so many things simply because they were not organized and I didn’t know I had so many! I won’t tell you exactly how to organize these things, because everyone has different preferences, but I will tell you to check out The Home Edit on Instagram for inspiration. You won’t regret it.
I hope these tips help you get the clutter under control. I think it’s especially important now, just before the holidays, when all the stores have amazing sales and we are receiving gifts we may not necessarily want/need. Keep these tips in mind this holiday season for less stress and more joy. Happy de-cluttering, friends!