I’ve always been a very anxious person–easily overwhelmed and stressed; consumed by worry; overly sensitive; and prone to outbursts and panic attacks. And I’ve always been extremely all over the place and at times can be disorganized–constantly losing and misplacing things; a bedroom floor made out of shoes and laundry; a car full of nicknacks and forgotten items; and at times procrastinating.
Every once in a while I’d actually be motivated by my anxiety over school, work, or my personal life that I’d find myself going crazy for hours on end until it was transformed into look spotless and clean of a bedroom that appears different to the eye. The process was always surprisingly restorative, but I would do it more than absolutely necessary.
I’m not sure what exactly sparked my desire to attempt a more organized lifestyle–maybe it was out of pure of feeling I needed to get my life in more order, or maybe it was the fact that I felt if it looked clean and perfect on the outside in every single corner of my home, then I would feel it would feel better on the inside. Whatever it was, I started. And by started, I simply mean I started to attempt to be all over the place and be more organized. Instead of decluttering my house twice a year, I managed about 4-6 times. I cleaned out my car every month. I started using a planner..sometimes. I folded and hung up my laundry right away.
Over the course of a couple years I started getting more picky with how my home appeared, and I even enjoyed using a planner on a daily basis. Yes, it took a few years to institute these actions into habits, but I wasn’t aiming for habits. I was simply trying to be a little better–a little bit at a time.
It’s only been about four years or so that I’ve noticed how significantly an uncluttered house, bathroom, closet, and car has contributed to feelings of tranquillity. Coming home and putting my purse on a coat rack, placing my tupperware in the sink, and walking into a *organized* clean room with a neatly made bed provides a sense of relief after a long day at work or a busy day running errands. Waking up and hopping out of bed onto carpet, and walking to the bathroom without dodging obstacles really does have a calming effect.
What have I implemented to maintain at least a decent level of cleanliness and organization?
Picking up after myself immediately (or close to immediately). If I try on multiple outfits, instead of leaving clothes on my bed and shoes on the floor, I put everything away before going out. After cooking and eating, I wash it by hand, dry, and store away. And after coming home from a trip, I put dirty clothes in my hamper and put all my clean clothes, toiletries, and supplements away. Each of these tasks only takes a few minutes. And not only does this prevent immediate clutter, but it’s also much easier to tackle one mess at a time rather than leaving it all to collect into one giant mess. Organization creates ease, and ease creates organization. They come hand in hand. And both organization and ease contribute to lower levels of stress and anxiety! And less time anxious means more time being happy, productive, and present.
Coming home to a clean space is restorative, as I mentioned previously. Instead of coming home to a mess and wanting to simply make my way to my sofa tuning out of my surroundings, I now feel liberated by my space and comfortable with my surroundings. They say what you see is what you get… I’ll use it in a slightly more obscure way here. If you are constantly seeing chaos and mess, it is only natural that your thoughts will mirror the chaos and mess before you. To be present (to fully experience life’s greatest gifts) and to be productive (to strive for growth) are practically impossible feats when you are bombarded with not only your own naturally anxious mind, but also the madness that is your surroundings.
Since I began intentionally being more organized and less cluttered, I find that I have more motivation to adopt other new habits to maintain and strengthen a calmer and cleaner lifestyle. Good habits beget more good habits. And good habits help to create a better and happier you.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, worried, or anxious beyond your control, then take control of what you can–your surroundings. Create a safe haven; a comfortable, clean, and calm space where you can escape outside expectations and triggers. Give yourself the gift of coming home to a welcoming place where your shoes are easy to find and your bathroom doesn’t look like a warzone. And it doesn’t have to be all at once. Share with me what habits have you cultivated to help contribute to outer order inner calmness in your life.