How Clutter Sabotages Our Self Care Efforts

4_19_18 post


You come home tired from your work day, looking forward to a short block of time to just refuel before  tackling your list of non-work related to-do’s, yet as you walk into your home, seconds before you even put your keys down, you catch site of random objects piled up, pushed to a corner or shoved into tight spaces that need to be put away, thrown out, mailed out, given back or organized.


The fully justified need to rest and refuel is now conflicting with the nagging voice that tells you to hurry up and deal with that clutter so you can begin to tackle that to do list.


Is this scenario familiar to you?


Is dealing with the overwhelm of clutter in your home, distracting you from being consistent in your daily self care ?


I know for me, clutter drains me just by looking at it. Clutter, scatters my thoughts and pulls me away from my  priorities. Space on the other hand, visually rests my eyes, helps me sort my thoughts, sit with those thoughts and inspires new ones.


Managing Stuff Less, In Order To Live More

Although keeping my living space orderly and spacious helps me keep my  focus on living more and “managing stuff” less, it’s harder to maintain the more objects I allow into it and as a mom this is an ever evolving project. In staying true to a few clutter-control practices I’m able to manage the continuous flow of school projects, drawings, origami creations or birthday presents that enter my home.


Our environment plays a critical  role in our ability to successfully maintain our self care in that, it either supports us in our efforts or holds us back.


I’ve shared here about the  power of our environment on our intentions and how if we’re not consciously shaping it to support our goals, it’s unconsciously  shaping us. The science behind it is pretty impressive!


Protecting Our Self Care

In the same way flexing our no’ muscle to activities that are not essential, protects our scheduled time for self care, keeping our physical environment in check likewise, prevents our focus from deviating. When we’re in the initial stages of making self care a habit, we’re  vulnerable to all kinds of distraction and we need all the help we can get.


Home Care Is Self Care

In truth keeping our clutter in check is an extended form of self care. We are investing in our wellbeing when we take the time to be scrupulous about what we allow into our home and ruthless about what needs to leave it. I’ve shared about the few practices I return to time and time again to keep my living space spacious and tidy here.


These practices maintain the spaciousness in my home and free me up to spend the few pockets of time that come up for something as simple as relishing a cup of tea or  simply taking a few mindful breaths in between the frenzied times of my day.

I’ll briefly list them here.


1.Weighing how much care an object will need before I bring it in

2.Giving every object a home

3.Clutter insidiously grows more clutter

4.Consciously create zones of activities by keeping their supplies within reach

5.Considering how well an object fits in harmony with everything else I have in my space, before I bring it in

6.Give up an object to bring in an object

7.Keep a permanent donation bin.

8. Remember that space is a decoration in and of itself


I share at length how I apply each practice in a post here if you want to read more.


Clutter As Symbolic of What Needs To Be Processed

One thing I’ve realized in keeping  up these practices is  that our clutter represents our unprocessed stories of desire.
Let me explain. I have come to believe that objects we have in our home, that don’t have an official place, tell a story of either :

  1. What we want to have in our life but don’t yet
  2. What we had at one point and miss
  3. What we think we need but don’t need enough to respect it with an official permanent home within our home


Every clutter object tells a story that only you know.


If Everything Is Important, Nothing Is Important

It’s one thing to have a special memento of our childhood and keep it in a high shelf where its displayed and framed, it’s another to have that object sitting on a counter next to a pile of overdue library books and swimming pool toys from last summer that have not yet been dealt with.


My Own Unprocessed Nostalgia

My own example is that of a cabinet I cleaned out 2 years back in my basement. It was full of crafts that my son and I made together when he was younger. I needed that space and realized I had held on to those objects because I was holding on to the sweetness of that season in his life where we spent so much time together and was feeling some nostalgia.

Releasing Emotions To Release Clutter

I let myself have a little ritual around it, in which I sat with each craft and let myself take in how fast time was moving and what a gift it was to be his mom. I let myself have a good cry and was then able to let them go and use the cabinet for our present needs. I also made a resolve to have an official day of the week to devote to play and put everything else aside and that’s how our Friday family night tradition was born.


Making Space For The New

Once I let myself feel completely what that cabinet brought up in me, I was then able to let go of that clutter and let in new beautiful things that were appropriate for the new season in my family’s life. The story behind that cabinet was then fully processed.


We can ask ourselves some questions when we look at the clutter in our home and use it as an opportunity for clarity about the honest to goodness state of our life at the moment, what we value and where we want to go.


  1. What are the stories your clutter is telling you?
  2. What postponed desire or intention does that object represent?
  3. How does the space that object takes up in your home, measure up to the value it brings into your life?
  4. Is the object filling the purpose you intended it for ?
  5. What is the cutter buffering us from fully feeling?


Does clutter affect your self care efforts?


Comment below and if you found this post helpful, take a sec to like or share. To receive self care motivation, tools and insights straight into your inbox, subscribe to my weekly newsletter Of Grit & Light

Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!


2 thoughts on “How Clutter Sabotages Our Self Care Efforts

  1. Wow, so much great information – I love that you said space is a decoration in and of itself. How interesting that you mentioned “What postponed intention or desire does that object represent?” I have attached sentimental value to so many things I own – things I really need to let go of.


    1. Hello Alix! Glad you found the post helpful. Yes, I think we can learn so much about ourselves by how we relate to our stuff. I know in the past I would buy something and have a specific intention in mind for it’s use and when months go by and that object still has no home in my space and has’nt been used, that’s desire/ intention has been delayed. This usually happened because my desire was unrealistic considering my tIme and ability. Hooray for your courage in being able to see your attachment to stuff and thank you for stopping by!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s