I’ve been reading a lot lately about how physical clutter affects mind clutter. This past weekend, I came face to face with the connection. Seriously. emotional toll of clutter
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing for a big day-long market to showcase my products. Along with that one large show are the weekly markets that I attend. I’m grateful to have lots of people who purchase my products which means I have to make more products to ensure I have enough with me at any given market.
When I have a larger show, I make extra of everything – I don’t want to run out of something you want! With the extra products comes extra boxes of supplies BUT I don’t have extra space in my studio. Which means that there has been clutter everywhere I’ve turned over the last few weeks.
Now, I’m not a neat freak by any stretch, but I do appreciate an orderly and tidy space and having things in their place. I learned the hard way that not having a regular place for something I use infrequently causes me to waste time looking for said object. And it’s always at the most inopportune time that I can’t find what I need. GRRR… declutter
The time leading up to the big shows can be stressful and we all know that stress causes crankiness. And cranky isn’t fun for anyone involved. But I could feel this sense of crankiness sitting in my chest and at first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the source. And then it hit me.
My small space was just cluttered and I felt like all I was doing was spinning my wheels and not accomplishing anything. I was stressed and frustrated and cranky because I couldn’t put my hands on anything that I needed without a major search expedition. That’s when I knew I needed to declutter.
The Definition of Clutter
A cluttered house is not necessarily a dirty house and a clean house can be incredibly cluttered. The definition of clutter is lots of things lying about in an untidy mess. Here’s how to know what is clutter:
- Ever spent more than 15 minutes searching for your keys?
- Can you run the vacuum or dust mop without having to go around something besides furniture?
- At tax time, how long does it take you to prepare your documents for your CPA?
- Are you considering a storage unit to handle the overflow of all your stuff?
- Have you thought about what will happen to all your stuff when you die?
My dad was something close to a hoarder. He was also one of the generation that survived the Great Depression. Which means nothing was ever thrown out because not only was that wasteful, but you might need that very thing 20 years down the road.
But then he passed on and my mother left all his “stuff” sit in the basement. Which is fine. Then the septic tank backed up into the basement. Guess what? All that stuff that he hoarded over 50+ years was ruined and had to be thrown out.
How To Declutter Your Life and Clear Your Mind
Several years ago, I moved from a 2,300 square foot house to a 725 square foot apartment. The shock of not having room for my “stuff” was overwhelming but in that instant, I had an “aha” moment. I could either look at a stack of boxes and trip over endless junk or I could take a few minutes every single day and analyze what was really important.
When I look back to that time, I was under a lot of stress and couldn’t think clearly. Major life moments tend to do that to us. Coming home to clutter was even more stressful than moving itself. Because I could only make so much stuff fit into 725 square feet (with ridiculously small closets) I was at a crossroads.
I gave myself 45 minutes every evening to look through ONE box. If I had the energy and time, I looked through more. But the minimum goal was simply one box – not overwhelming, not enough to exhaust me – simply one box.
With glass of wine and a charged up iPod, I set to work. I’ve often heard that you spend the first 50 years of your life collecting – or nesting, if you will – and the second 50 years giving it all away. It was time.
Want to know something embarrassing? I moved a big (HEAVY!) box of college textbooks from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And then I moved the same box – still packed – two more times! WTF???????
It was boxes of stuff that I struggled to part ways with and I felt like this stuff was a security blanket – securing what, I don’t know. I needed a fresh start and looking at boxes of old stuff that I never touched was weighing me down and creating more stress that I ever could have imagined. All the clutter in the boxes was simply clutter in my head and heart.
I needed to declutter and just couldn’t face that fact. emotional toll of clutter
Clutter is stuck energy
When you’re stuck in any area of life, it’s hard to move forward; to see new ideas; to move on to the next project or make a fresh start. I’ve now had to declutter two more times because each time I’ve moved, it’s been to smaller quarters.
At times, I’ve felt really stuck in my life and now I see just how closely physical clutter equals mental clutter which equals an untidy mess. You’d be surprised (maybe not?) to learn just how much physical clutter has to do with your mental clutter and stress level.
The emotional toll of clutter can be devastating. Maybe you find yourself running late all the time because you can’t find the shirt you wanted to wear or the mate to the pair of shoes that matches your outfit. Or your keys. negative emotions because of clutter
Negative Emotions Because of Clutter
Jessie Sholl writes for ExperienceLife.com about the emotional toll of clutter:
Professional organizers, who are hired to help with everything from decluttering closets to restructuring entire homes, routinely see their clients reap emotional rewards. “It’s hard for me to even imagine talking about clutter without talking about the emotional benefits of decluttering,” says Hazel Thornton, professional organizer and owner of Organized for Life, a consulting service in Albuquerque, N.M. “There’s no one who calls me who isn’t stressed out, frustrated, or feeling inadequate, incompetent in their job, or guilty. It’s all about emotions — definitely it’s more about emotions than it is about the stuff.”
It was cathartic to declutter by going through every single box. I looked at some things and shook my head – what was I thinking when I got that? Other things, I kept because I’m not about to give away my life due to space constraints – I truly savor that piece of my life in that box waiting to be unpacked. negative emotions because of clutter
Do you have a lot of clutter? Do you feel stressed sometimes for no good reason? What about all those negative emotions because of clutter? Do you ever think about the emotional toll of clutter? While you’re looking at what no longer serves you physically, what clutter are you hanging onto that no longer serves you mentally? physical clutter affects mind clutter
What’s keeping you stuck? physical clutter affects mind clutter
If you see yourself hanging onto things, people, ideas and general clutter that no longer serves you, let’s talk. I can easily show you how to declutter your life. emotional toll of clutter
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