December 27, 2023

Is your clutter connected to how you are feeling inside?

Life has been a bit stressful recently and I have been ill. Over the last couple of months my bedroom has become a tip and a dumping ground.  It is like a teenager’s bedroom.  Today I felt able to start tackling it.  As I was putting things into the laundry basket and putting things away  I wondered how I had let it get like that.  I thought back to other times my room had been a mess and I then realised that my clutter in my bedroom was connected to how I was feeling inside.

The chaos in my bedroom was a representation of the chaos in my head.  Stress is often connected to some one having a cluttered home. It often happens in times of change. Stuff scattered everywhere in my bedroom was a manifestation of my anxiety, my confusion, my inability to control a situation.  When I feel calm, and life is running smoothly, my room is organised, clean and tidy.  As my mind races, my mood drops,  and I feel stressed, the standard of my room declines.

Ironically, a cluttered environment also causes stress, anxiety, and reduces sleep and so it is a vicious circle. The clutter did not just appear over night, but over weeks when I have felt overwhelmed and have been too lethargic (or ‘busy’) to put things away.  that was my excuse to myself, anyway.  However it was not the root cause of the clutter.

My clutter is tied to my inner emotions and l so I realised that just tidying my room was not going to solve any thing.  It will be just as bad in another month, and I will pretend to myself that I have not had time again. I therefore had to find the real cause of the clutter by doing a lot of soul searching. To do that I did the following:-

  1.  Settle my brain.  I know that I have not been making time for my self care recently. The way that I settle and calm my chaotic head is to spend some time in nature, being mindful, taking photos and taking note of what is around me.  This includes using all my senses.  Some people meditate.  We all have our own individual ways of calming our mind.  As I drove home from a stressful job when the children were young, I would play music and sing at the top of my voice to calm my brain so that I felt settled by the time I got home.  It will take time to calm my brain, and one walk will not make the psychological clutter disperse, but I know now that making time for this has to be a priority now.
  2. Review the clutter.  As I wandered around my home I realised that although the other rooms were tidy, they were still not as organised as they usually are.  Things were out of place and I wasn’t bothered by it.  Some of this is because it is Christmas and there are decorations and ornaments around, but not all of it.  As I looked at the clutter I asked myself which emotions I was feeling? What was causing the clutter and chaos in my head? What had changed recently?  I explored the emotions that I was suppressing.   Today I realised that I was hanging on to feelings of anger, guilt, helplessness, and grief.  I was hanging on to memories of the past in the same way as I hang on to my Mum’s tea set.  I was scared to let go.  I was scared to feel those emotions in case I wasn’t strong enough to cope with them.  In the past I might have bought things I didn’t need to suppress those emotions.  Now I was letting the clutter in my head spill out into my home.

Luckily for me I have done a lot of therapy, self reflection, and work on myself and so have learned to recognise my emotions, (although they may be subconsciously hidden for a while), and then deal with them.  I know as well as putting things away today I do need to address the emotions or else the clutter will not disappear. Some people will be overwhelmed and need help to explore their issues.   Professional help might benefit some one that is hoarding or is addicted to buying things, as there will be deeply rooted emotions and complex issues there.  However, if clutter isn’t a massive problem, but does seem to be increasing in areas of your home and life, it might be worth asking yourself what is really causing the clutter and why are you hanging on to things?  It might be fear of not having money in the future, or memories of the past when times were hard.   I now think that it is only possible to do a final declutter when the clutter in your head is finally dealt with.  Do you think that the two are connected?



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  1. Curly Curls December 28, 2023 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    This is a really interesting read Toni. I too notice a tendency to let things slide when I am distracted by ongoing events and changes in my life.If I don’t want to deal with them, I find that I can’t concentrate and thus leave things to be …. Just for now and I’ll come back to it …. but I don’t. Then you multiply that by a few times in the day and over the space of a week, it can quickly pile up.

    Having now finished work, due to ill health and a particularly challenging 2023 that I’ve gone through, I’m guilty of this, very much so. I am going into 2024 trying to change my mindset to park all that’s gone before and to put in place the step of putting myself first. I’d be the first to tell friends to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, but I’m lousy at doing it, when it comes to my life. Baby steps and one day at a time but I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it.

    You’re a very inspiring lady Toni and I thank you for the wisdom you share with others. It’s really appreciated and does make me stop and think, but more importantly, not feel guilty, which is something I’ve done most of my life particularly when it comes to family. Thank you.

    • ToniG December 31, 2023 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Aww thank you. Yes, a total reset of your mind sounds like a really positive way forward. We are so good at beating ourselves up, but generally find it hard to praise ourselves. It sounds like a very a very difficult year. Good luck with your plans, but please just take one step at a time. It is a journey, and this first year retired involves a lot of change and adaptation, and so is not easy x

  2. Curly Curls December 31, 2023 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you, I will do. The advice from someone who has been there, done that, has the t-shirt to prove it, is really appreciated. My husband keeps telling me I’m under estimating the impact this has had, and will continue to have, on me. I’m finally starting to realise he is probably right. Baby steps. Thank you again xx

    • ToniG January 1, 2024 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      No worries. Good luck x

  3. Katie Naden January 6, 2024 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I can see myself in so much of this. I collect sewing & craft items & don’t make the items . I have endless pictures on my phone with no system to find one picture . I have clothes I’d like to sell online yet haven’t learnt how to do this . I can help others with their clutter but haven’t achieved a satisfactory outcome for myself . My guts telling me I’m ok help is coming & not to worry. So the universe has it . Thanks again for finding the right words xx

    • ToniG January 6, 2024 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      No worries. It is so hard to help ourselves, but easy for us to help other people if we are those kind of caring people, which I know you are. My clutter in my head is a work in progress and sometimes it gets messy again, but the more we declutter, the easier it gets to sort it out quickly again x

  4. Nicola January 27, 2024 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    This is me right now. After a stressful and traumatic 12 months on the surface I’ve coped really well, but enter my house and it’s a different story. Each room is drowning in clutter. My room you can’t see the floor. I know this isn’t me, but I’ve felt so overwhelmed by everything. I’ve made a plan that every weekend I will concentrate on one room/area. I am hoping that soon, the piles will be gone and I’ll finally have space to breathe, space to think.

    • ToniG January 29, 2024 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Sometimes you have to let things go so that you can cope. That sounds like a good plan. Small steps and to do lists always helped me. You have got this, and giving yourself space without clutter will help you sleep and think better. Sending hugs

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