When writing my blog posts, I often try to write them like I’m talking to a friend (Well, because many of you are friends). My goal is to share information in an easy to read, fun manner and to help convey that altering your space does not have to be intimidating, hard or even time consuming. You probably find my writing to be playful and generally lighthearted. However, recently I’ve been reading many articles about clutter and its affects on mental health. This is serious. As someone who as dealt with mental health issues I feel as though this topic needs a more serious tone. I reached out to a friend and expert to get her take and advice on not only clutter and its affects on your mental health, but also her personal thoughts as a mom. Enjoy and should you need any help, Rebecca’s contact information is below.
Guest Post by: Rebecca M. Kondrich LISW, CHt
Greetings: My name is Rebecca Kondrich and I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker. I opened my private practice in November of 2017 and couldn’t be happier. My work is fulfilling and enriching. When I am not working, I am Mom to a spirited and bright 5-year-old daughter. She challenges and stretches me to grow every day!
I have always had a very deep experience of my physical and energetic surroundings. The presence of natural light, organization, clutter, and open space deeply impacts my mood. I move from at peace to tense and anxious depending upon the space I inhabit.
Through my work but more in the experience of motherhood I have become aware of the role of clutter on mental health. I now work with Mothers experiencing similar in my private practice. I work with women empowering them to reconnect with their intuition and empower them to follow their hearts. I’ve created an office that supports my personal development and allows me to connect meaningfully with others. I have studied yoga, meditation, mindfulness as well as social work creating the foundation for my work. My personal experience has also deeply transformed the way I guide others.
Looking around a room.
Pans on the stove
As my eyes scan the room this is all the sensory info I am taking in and my heart starts to PANIC.
The anxiety starts in my chest, heart rate quickens. Breathing becomes shallow and hurried. My eyes don’t know where to settle and all the information coming in screams chaos.
I don’t feel like I can settle and just BE in the room. The idea of straightening everything up or finding places for it to go overwhelms. I’d rather GO OUT then try to be IN this space. My Home doesn’t feel like HOME. It is not a place of respite it is a place so filled with stuff. My mind reflects the clutter in the room and a cluttered mind is an anxious mind. Research has also been done to verify this very difficulty.
I find that I struggle to sit with my daughter and just “play” without nervously jumping up to put something away, move it or toss it. I can’t focus on a conversation. My energy feels low and I feel like I am failing at housekeeping, failing at Mothering and failing at being female. I get angry and resentful that I am the only one impacted. (this of course is not true, children do not operate well among the too much-ness of toys) Children’s play is more purposeful when they have less, not more! Too many choices can be anxiety provoking.
I’ve been able to recognize how deeply I am impacted because my office is organized. Everything has a place. I feel nurtured and clear minded when I enter my office.
"When home is not a relaxing respite to come to, anxiety can run high."
I hear from moms in my practice that the struggle to work and keep up with home and the growing number of toys children now have is impacting their mental health. Mom's present as anxious and can spiral into depression, as they feel unable to keep up with maintaining a clutter free existence. Moms are comparing themselves to photos on IG and feeling down about themselves as a result when they cannot keep up. Beginning to put down some of the expectations has helped, which we work on in sessions as well as beginning to minimize. I recommend to all of my clients that they watch the Minimalist documentary. It is a great reminder that we do not need all that we think that we do and the freedom that can come from letting go. Emotional attachments to objects as well as awareness on the impact of throwing things away on the environment has also impacted how people dispose of or don’t their excess goods.
Many women are juggling more than one role. Having to combat clutter to accomplish daily tasks at home creates a cycle of avoidance. Feelings of anxiety, increased stress, resistance to following up with tasks can result. This increase in cortisol impacts creativity as well as ability to follow through with anything. When a stress response to clutter occurs individuals I speak with often shut down unable to complete something like cooking dinner or finishing the laundry. Many moms I speak with often struggle with the amount of toys their children have. Stress is increased in women who are also working and have the added responsibility of housework after their day jobs. The stress response to clutter is the same fight or flight response that the body experiences when there is a threat to safety.
Recommendations to Combat the Anxious Clutter Response: I take from the minimalist philosophy.
Thank you so much for reading and Lisa for sharing. I can be reached at rebeccamkondrich.com or via email Rebecca@rebeccamkondrich.com
I work with clients one-on-one in my Rocky River, Ohio office.
You can follow me on IG @rebeccakondrichlisw.
Looking forward to connecting with you!
This article has great information from Moms. I feel all of these words as truth!