Clutter and Mental Health: Clearing Your Clutter Outside and In
There are a lot of reasons why someone keeps a neat and perfectly organized home. There are just as many reasons as to why others say they prefer their messy living space. Then, there’s a whole other group that is neat and orderly in one area and in another are disorganized and cluttered.
Popular TV Shows, blogs, and social media focus a lot on organization, taunting the secrets to getting organized. Ads flood social media with all the cute baskets, containers, labels, and shelving contraptions claiming to have the ultimate solution to organizing a messy home. Being clean, neat, and organized is often presented as a sign of success, professionalism, and having it “together.”
A survey conducted by the National Association for Professional Organizers in 2015, found that over a third of readers were overwhelmed by their clutter —and don’t know where to begin cleaning. (In contrast, less than 10% say their homes are clutter-free.)
There are plenty of people, though, who are just a bit messier and even feel more at peace with a little organized mess around them. There is no clear-cut answer to what is better or right, more or less successful when it comes to the level of clutter and organization a person lives in. However, when clutter is a change in the way someone lives and causes them stress and overwhelm, then it could be a mirror to the clutter in their mind as well.
Depression and Clutter
Depression is a mood disorder that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It can cause a person to lose interest in things they normally do as well as have trouble focusing and concentrating. When you’re a person who is typically focused and relatively organized, and start to become increasingly forgetful, scattered, and disorganized, it may indicate that you are struggling with depression.
Often, messiness is a sign of depression because it’s harder to focus or have the energy to care about routine household chores like cleaning up after themselves.
A cluttered home or space can cause you to feel overwhelmed to the point where you feel you’ll never be able to clear it out. Piles of things out of place make it difficult to focus, complete tasks and find the things you need to do day-to-day routine things.
In the same sense, a large amount of clutter in your home can be an outward mirror of the cluttered thoughts in your mind. Being overwhelmed with thoughts
For many, a cluttered home environment causes straight-up anxiety - losing sleep because they’re thinking about where to start cleaning, where to find things that are missing, or what people might be thinking about the clutter in their home.
Clearing it out
Just like accumulating clutter can create anxiety, overwhelm, and even be a sign of depression, clearing it out and getting organized can create a sense of calm, manageable, and even increasing mental health.
So where does it start? How do you get months or years of accumulated clutter organized and cleared out? Remember, it didn’t get the way it is in a day, so it definitely will take longer than that to get things cleared. It’s a big, overwhelming task!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Here are 3 simple ways to get started:
- Start small
Clearing physical and emotional clutter is a project with lots of pieces, so don’t try to take the entire thing on at once. Aim for a little progress each day. Divide up your house into sections or rooms. Sometimes rooms need their own sub-sections.
Try starting the de-clutter process with a kitchen drawer, a shelf, or your entryway. These are often the first places you go when you get home and often where things are kept that have little or no sentimental value.
Seeing a clean and organized place when you first walk in the house or in a place like a kitchen will help to not feel overwhelmed the second you walk in. Start with a small area and make a little progress each day.
- Set a Timer
Once you have picked an area to begin decluttering, set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop. Notice how you feel. Take a look at the progress made.
If you want to continue, set another timer and check in with yourself again when it goes off. If you’re getting frustrated and feel like you’ve had enough for that day, then stop. You make the rules when it comes to tidying up your space! Setting a timer will not only help keep you focused, but it also breaks a big task into smaller chunks that feel more manageable. You can do anything for 20 minutes.
- 3 Piles
When clearing clutter, create 3 categories or piles.
Trash - things you no longer want or need and can be thrown away
Sell - things you no longer want or need that you can sell in an online garage sale
Keep - things you need or genuinely want to keep
Spend just a second or two with each item to decide which pile it goes in! The longer you hold an item, the more likely you are to keep it. The idea is to let go of the things you don’t use.
Clearing clutter in your physical space can be a liberating experience and boost your mental health! If clutter is overwhelming you or you are experiencing anxiety or depression, either causing clutter or due to out of control clutter, a therapist can help!
Connect with us! We have skilled therapists ready to help!
940-222-8552 or email email@example.com
Clinical Director and Co-Owner at Redeemed Life Counseling