When you get home from work do you feel stressed? Frustrated? Why can't my partner just hang up his jacket or place their clothes in the laundry basket? Kid's toys littering the floor...you've really reached your limits. Personally, I have experienced varying forms of anxiety and panic attacks. It's not fun. In my pre-professional organizing days, my anxiety was at an all time high. I didn't realize at the time that a heavy contributor to my anxiety was my disorganized ways. I WAS SO DISORGANIZED, financially, in University with my studies, at home with my belongings - my life was a mess. Once I was able to identify my main stressors - I worked on my habits that were holding me back from thriving! Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done. Even scientists are catching on. According to various scientific research, anxiety and depression may be linked to clutter.
It is a terrible cycle, anxiety and depression can lead to clutter and clutter can lead to more anxiety and depression.
Clutter can contribute to our sense of worth. It can affect how a person feels about their homes, workplaces and about themselves. Messy homes and workplaces can feed the anxiety, overwhelming and helpless feelings. Clutter is slowly becoming more recognized as a significant source of stress in a person’s life according to Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy. D. in her article in Psychology Today. In addition, clutter can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase anxiety and lead to unhealthy habits. Don't worry, you're not overreacting or taking the clutter too seriously. Your mind and body is genuinely experiencing stress, anxiety, and depressive feelings.
“Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”
Minimalism doesn’t have to mean living with the bare minimum; it means discovering and understanding what your legitimate wants and needs really are. In my world, minimalism means surrounding yourself only with items that serve a purpose or hold beauty. Clutter makes us feel anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile of clutter. If you really don't know where to begin, a professional organizer can definitely help guide you in the right direction. They have experience with all forms of clutter and are focused on helping you achieve your goals.
Once you start to differentiate between what is necessary and what's not, you realize that a lot of what causes you stress and anxiety is simply putting your energy into things you don’t genuinely believe in. Life doesn't have to be cluttered, it can be sorted.
If you are feeling like your depression or anxiety about clutter or for any reasons is making you unable to function or feel unsafe definitely address that with a trusted person, a therapist or social service worker.
Here are some links to Canadian resources:
Professional organizer's perspective on all things clutter, organizing, health, minimalism, and more!