fbpx Decluttering vs. Your Emotions
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on March 17, 2022

We all know that decluttering can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! There are numerous methods of decluttering your space that can help bring focus and control, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. 

One method I found to be the most helpful in organizing my spaces is from the KonMari Method by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant. Remember hearing the term “spark joy” a few years back? Yep, that’s her! 

This method uses the idea that if an item does not spark joy in you, then you don’t need to keep it. Sounds simple, right? Organizing and decluttering aren’t always easy to do. There is meaning and memories behind the things we own which can make it difficult to let go. This is when asking yourself if it “sparks joy” or “moves you” can be helpful. An item you have held onto for years that’s been tucked away might not make you feel like it did the day you got it. That’s okay! It is okay to let go of things that we once loved or felt comfort in having, but no longer serve us in that way. Easier said than done! 

Decluttering is not just a physical process, it is emotional. Remember to do what you can while recognizing and acknowledging the emotions that arise when going through the decluttering process. 

Where to Start

You might be asking yourself, “Where do I start?” Maybe you just have one room that is overwhelming or maybe you want to organize your whole space; either way it is important to remember to start small and choose one category at a time. Pick a category such as clothing or papers or a small room and start there. The key to not becoming overwhelmed is to not take on more than you can mentally handle. The last thing you want to do is to feel more stressed or anxious during this process. At first, maybe all you can handle is gathering the items you want to go through. And a day later, you can start going through each item. It’s okay to take your time and breaks. It can help to think about the end result and how having less clutter or less to do each time you clean might improve your life. 

If you are like me, you might get started on a task and get distracted by another that caught your attention along the way. To help keep you focused, set a timer and work on decluttering one area for that allotted time. Give yourself 15 minutes to organize your bathroom or to pick up the kitchen. This way you won’t get lost taking on too many tasks and can feel accomplished as you finish what you started.  

Navigating Emotions

Getting others involved in decluttering can also make a big difference, not only in that you won’t have to clean each space yourself, but in that they can help you move through the emotions of keeping or getting rid of items. When it comes to mental health, depression, anxiety, or other diagnoses can make it more difficult to take on the decluttering process. Again, remember to start small and do what you can when you can. 

One of the more common feelings when decluttering is guilt. Maybe it was a gift from a loved one, a souvenir from a place you’ve been, or an item that brought you comfort. Although they once made you feel safe or reminded you of a memory you made, you don’t have to keep it forever and it is okay to not want it anymore. At the same time, if you come across an item that is still meaningful to you, even if you’ve had it for years, it’s okay to keep it. 

Remember to be gentle with yourself as you go through the decluttering process. It can seem overwhelming and emotional but remember to take on one thing at a time, set realistic goals, and go at your own pace. Reach out to a therapist, organization service, or loved one if you need support in the process. You are not alone! 

This blog article was contributed by Grace Thurnau, Intern at Nexus-FACTS.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.