Can Minimalism Help Anxiety Disorders?

Minimalism, anxiety, mental health, decluttering, decluter, minimize, peaceful home


I first realized I had anxiety when I was in high school. I’d get so nervous before school that I was physically sick. I couldn’t go into stores by myself or walk down the street alone. I didn’t know what to do with my hands and I would get very conscious of the way I was walking and something that should be a simple, brainless activity became stressful and uncomfortable.

As an adult I have finally started receiving help for my anxiety disorder. I have several diagnosis given to me by psychiatrists in my adult life but anxiety, by far, has the biggest effect on my quality of life. I began researching different ways to prevent anxiety. Even though it is with me all of the time, there are varying levels of intensity. My hope was to find ways to keep it from reaching peak panic levels. That’s when I stumbled across minimalism. I had been looking to declutter my home a bit anyway but seeing a comment on another blog post about how it helped with that persons anxiety piqued my interest.

succulent, cleansing plants, simple plants, minimalism

Minimalism is, by definition, a style or technique characterized by extreme spareness or simplicity. To do this in your home, you purge items that you no longer use, that have similar items that can serve the same purpose, or that have worn out or are outdated. This seemed to me to be exactly what I needed to do. My initial thought was to decrease clutter so that when I went into a depressive episode it wouldn’t be such a challenge to keep up with the housework.

I’ve been slowly cleaning things out of our home. About 30 bags and several boxes of things. I started with dishes. With 2 adults and 3 kids, we need a few dishes but we had 18 plates. 18. And when I didn’t pick up for a couple of days, I would end up with an entire dishwasher full of just plates. That’s not acceptable. I pared down the plates and bowls and cups and then the pots and pans, books, clothes, toys, anything I could get my hands on.

I”m nowhere near done on my journey toward minimalism but I’ve noticed a huge shift already. Even when I don’t pick up for a few days and everything is everywhere, the mess isn’t that bad. We don’t have as much stuff to make a mess out of and I don’t have to carry so much guilt when I just can’t bring myself to be productive. Knowing the mess can’t grow too large has made an impact on my anxiety on its own.

relax, relaxed, relaxing, reading, minimalist, minimizing, anxiety

Another thing I’ve noticed is that our kids enjoy being in their bedroom more. When the blankets are burying them and their belongings are caving in on them they can’t focus. Now they can actually utilize the space for more than just sleeping. They can go in and draw or read without getting distracted by everything closing in on them. It’s not just benefiting me, but my whole family. My husband is happier that the mess isn’t taking over, as well.

If you have anxiety and also tend to lean toward hoarding tendencies, I really suggest doing some research on minimalism. When your living space is crowded, your mind can get crowded as well. Sometimes clearing unnecessary items out of your home can give you peace of mind and and a sort of freedom. When you live with anxiety, peace of mind feels like more than you could hope for, but once you have control of your environment I really think you could see a difference.

16 thoughts on “Can Minimalism Help Anxiety Disorders?

  1. What an excellent post and excellent idea! We did the same a couple years ago and looking around my apartment right now, some might think it kind of sparse (no ornaments, few pictures, etc.) but clean up is a breeze and doesn’t even have to happen as often.

    1. Thank you, Debrah! Before when the house was a mess it was unbearable, but as much as we have whittled down up to this point, the mess isn’t so overwhelming and I don’t feel like I can’t get ahead of it. Sparse is what my ultimate goal is! Let the sunshine and the stress free environment be our decoration <3

  2. Awesome post. It is so hard to be a minimalist when you find value in every little thing. People who came to US from poor countries it is very hard to get rid of things.

    1. The hardest part for me has been seeing past the sentimental value of an item and trying to see it’s physical value to our home. I’m from a very sappy emotional family haha so everything tugs at my heart strings! And sometimes the tug wins and the thing goes back into hiding until I’m ready to try again! It’s a process!

  3. I have anxiety since I was a young girl, probably starting around the age of 5. It truly has affected my life in so many ways and trying to explain it to others so they don’t think I am just a flaky person can take a toll on your self esteem. I’m very social BUT actually getting myself to attend a social gathering is probably the hardest thing for me. I too hate going anywhere by myself. I don’t like driving in city like traffic. But yes clutter drives my anxiety up! Out of all the boxes stored in our garage only one belongs to me. I will go through the house ever so often and just start tossing things that have not been used by anyone for months, if it is broken, or just uneccessary. Just happy to know there are others out there that I wouldn’t have to explain my anxiety to!

    1. Those are my favorite people 😂 Finding someone who gets it is never easy but it’s always such a relief when it happens! It makes me feel a tad less neurotic. Just a tad though haha. I’ve been going through everyone’s belongings and if I haven’t seen it worn or used in a few months I’ve been chucking it. Nobody has complained yet! I hope they can see how much it’s helping me and trust that I know not to throw away actually important things haha.

  4. I would agree with this, though I struggle to do as much minimizing as I want to. I need to constantly remind myself to keep up with it. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I do the same thing! Luckily, the further into it I get, the less it’s able to get away from me. I go into depressive states sometimes and I just don’t have any ambition for anything. Minimalizing has at least taken some of that guilt off my shoulders instead of the clutter compacting the problem. I wish you luck with your minimizing! A little at a time and you’ll get there 🙂

  5. Anxiety struggler here too, I have found getting rid of the unnecessary things really does help with the anxiety. All of the extra stuff causes so much more stress! Six of us in this house causes an excess of stuff and now I feel the need to go declutter!

    1. After reading through comments today I’ve been doing the same thing Haha! It’s myself, my husband, and 3 preteen boys and we can all make a mess! Luckily it’s just me for a few hours so I can sneak in and get rid of broken toys and make beds and get the boy funk out. I love my kids but my GOODNESS they hold onto some weird stuff 😂

  6. Yes anxiety is a hard thing to understand and figure out how to control. My ways I handle mine are by playing sudoku at night, reading those usually help me fall asleep. Also my friend told me there is a coping skill known as 4,7,8. 4 breaths in, hold for 7, and out for 8. I hope this helps too. Awesome post can’t wait to try this!

    1. That breathing trick is super helpful for me! The grounding exercises don’t work because I can’t focus but I can breathe! I just bought a sudoku book the other day because my neighbor suggested it. I have no idea how to do it but I look forward to figuring it out!

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I have been working on decluttering and minimizing our “stuff” it just creates a more peaceful environment. A cluttered home is stressful for me, which just adds to the likelihood of an anxiety attack. I know when I go through decluttering it’s like a weight is lifted. I have a lot of sentimental attachments to things so I struggle with getting rid of stuff sometimes. Something I just started doing is taking pictures of things rather than keeping the items themselves. The pics are all stored online so I don’t even have the clutter of too many pictures.

    1. That’s a really great idea! I don’t have too many very sentimental things, just a small wall hanging quilt from my grandmother that I keep tucked away. But my kids think EVERYTHING is sentimental. Even the packaging things come in. We are all equally clutter bugs and a big downfall for me is when I get depressed, I like retail therapy. I always end up with STUFF. I’m going to try and change my spending habits. If I feel like I need to buy something I’ll either get presents for an upcoming birthday or holiday, or if that’s not happening I am going to try and get pet supplies for a local shelter and see if that scratches the itch in the same way!

  8. Love this post. I suffer from anxiety and depression. This is the blog I came acrossed that discussed purging clutter. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I’m not a hoarder, but certainly not a minimalist. However, with downsizing and the home staging I do, the house can certainly close in once I’ve finished a project! I am looking forward to having only the lovely things I wish to have! Working on clearing out, one bag at a time.

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