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