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.
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items that you no longer use, that have similar items that can serve the same purpose, or that have worn out or are outdated.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.
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.