Decluttering for stress-relief

Hi everyone!

Sorry I went off the radar for a bit there, my wife wasn’t well and had to undergo surgery, so I was a bit tied up playing nurse.

All’s well now, you’ll be pleased to hear, and I’m ready to get stuck back into some blog posts.

But there were points over the last month or two when my life was looking pretty hectic and unpredictable. Not just because of my wife’s illness, but for various other reasons too.

One thing I noticed during the most stressful points was how often I reacted by going and doing a spot of decluttering. It was as if paring down my possessions had become a method of self-soothing, like having a glass of wine or vegetating in front of some trash-TV.

I can’t really explain why this was. Perhaps it’s a habit I’m into now, and old habits felt like a stabilising force when things were in flux. Perhaps keeping busy felt comforting. Perhaps it felt like I couldn’t control much in my life, but here was something I could control: the objects I owned.

And certainly, the end product – simplicity at home – seemed so much more important to me when other aspects of my life were complicated. I craved clear workspaces, pared-down wardrobes and simple meals because it was one less thing to worry about.

Of course, none of this works if the decluttering process itself is stressful. So I was careful to resist my natural tendency to add in levels of complexity.

Usually, I love a challenge, so the ‘gamification’ of decluttering really works for me. Whether it’s playing the month-long MinsGame or the three-month capsule wardrobe challenge Project 333, I usually respond well to deadlines, timescales, public accountability and, of course, a little healthy competition.

But over these past few weeks, I let all that go. I let the decluttering happen at its own natural pace. No pressure, no expectations, no rules.

And you know what? I still found myself getting rid of plenty of things, all the same.

Sometimes the necessity to keep things simple actually helped me to let go. For example, I didn’t have the time or energy to sell old books, CDs or DVDs online, so I bundled them all off to charity shops, and they were out of my life far quicker than they otherwise might have been.

Here are just a few of the items I’ve let go of. (Except the dog. Still got him!)

A collage of items I have recently decluttered

 

Do you have any tips for decluttering at times of high stress?

5 thoughts on “Decluttering for stress-relief

  1. Melody says:

    I’m sorry to hear she hasn’t been well but great to hear she is on the mend! It looks like your declutter has been productive.

    I’ve also started another declutter and I’m amazed at how in each pass I find more things to declutter. Like several pairs of shoes that have resisted multiple intense decluttering rounds and I now have no idea how – they are nice shoes that I spent a lot of money on but for various reasons I almost never wear them. Or kids clothing I’m saving for my second child but realised they aren’t in great condition or the first child almost never wore them because they don’t quite work for some reason.

    I’m doing my own version of the mins game, which is actually nothing like the mins game :). I don’t like games that put pressure on decluttering because I don’t want to let go of things that are actually useful and I don’t want it to add stress to my life. Instead I’m just doing a declutter on the days when I have time and recording my tally against a hypothetical 31 days. Initially I thought I would just try to even out the days (to me it does’t make sense to declutter an exact number each day) but I can now see it will take me longer than 31 days. But I’ve decluttered over 100 items plus lots of paper already so I’m happy with my progress.

    I also find it a stress relief to declutter and I’m not sure that is entirely healthy as I can get a bit obsessive. Worse is that as a stay at home Mum I’ve noticed I do more online shopping than I would like – I’ve broken the habit of shopping for myself but I probably buy more than I need to for the kids. I’ve started to record everything non-perishable that I buy, why I bought it (need, impulse, prompted by marketing) and whether it worked out to be a good buy or not. I’ve found some useful lessons about when I buy things that aren’t needs.

  2. Chistine says:

    I use decluttering as a way to self-soothe. I also joke that of all the vices I could have, decluttering and organizing probably isn’t so bad. I would give a word of caution to anyone who has an anxiety disorder that it’s possible to overdo decluttering and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on that

    1. Loz says:

      I would definitely agree with that, I seem to be a bit all or nothing with decluttering! My husband says I get obsessed and start throwing out things I need.

      But also, this week I sent about 10 pairs of shoes to the charity shop that have been sitting unworn in my wardrobe for years. Felt good!

  3. I like your approach to decluttering and I as well often find decluttering soothing. I also find when I feel I need some control of my world, I declutter. I’ve purged thousands of things since I became more minimalist( about 7 years ago now).

Leave a Reply