3 things to do when clutter stresses you out

When I ask people what the biggest problem clutter causes for them, often the answer is stress. Clutter can cause some serious stress!

what to do when clutter stresses you out

When a place in my home is cluttered, I find it difficult to do anything productive. It’s like the clutter prevents me from thinking clearly.

So over time, I’ve developed a 3 step process that helps me process the stress and get back to a calmer state (at least as calm as life can be with 4 boys running around!).

Here are 3 simple steps to take when clutter causes stress

Step 1. Take a moment and name your feelings.

If this sounds a little woo-woo to you, just bear with me 🙂 The older I get, the more I realize how important our feelings are. Clutter can cause true emotional distress!

Don’t be surprised when this happens. Instead, acknowledge how you’re feeling and put a name to it.

“This messy kitchen makes me crazy!”
“When I look at my closet, I get overwhelmed.”
“Just thinking about the playroom makes me want to close the door and eat a brownie.”

There – do you feel a little better now?

Step 2. Take a focused action.

So of course, we’re not going to stop at just naming feelings. Now that you’ve named your feelings, you can do something about them.

Because although naming your reaction to the clutter is helpful, if you don’t take some action, your situation will only get worse. So now it’s time to do something.

clean something up to instantly relieve stress

Here’s a little secret about this step – decluttering is HUGELY satisfying! When you clean up and get rid of things that are causing you anxiety, it’s like a huge burden is lifted.

You may not even have realized how much stress the clutter was causing you.

The key to decluttering when you’ve got a lot to work through is to take it one step at a time.

Step by Step Decluttering Worksheets

Don’t try to declutter your entire closet at once; instead, take it a drawer at a time. Don’t try to declutter the basement in one day; instead, pick one corner to tackle.

As you make progress, you’ll gain momentum and it will get easier. But taking on too much at once can easily become overwhelming and you’ll burn out.

I talk a lot more about this process in my free print book, Step-by-Step Decluttering. It’s so important to pace yourself if you’ve got a lot of decluttering to do.

Step 3. Be kind to yourself.

You might think this item doesn’t really deserve its own mention, but trust me, it does!

It’s so easy to beat ourselves up about letting the clutter collect or not doing something about it. But this isn’t helpful.

So be kind to yourself!

You surely didn’t accumulate all these things overnight and it’ll take some time to pare down again. It’s OK to take your time (but also know that the more ruthless you are when decluttering, the greater the relief).

If you need to stop or if you get stuck and take a few steps back, you haven’t failed; it’s all part of the process.

As long as you start back up, you’ll eventually get to the place where you’ve got the clutter under control. And that is a beautiful place to be!

Take the Next Step

step-by-step decluttering

If you’d like some encouragement and decluttering how-to (including worksheets) check out Step-by-Step Decluttering. This workshop will take you by the hand and walk you through a process.

You’ll learn a decluttering process that works as well as what to declutter first and how to manage decluttering obstacles such as unsupportive relatives and the guilt that may be holding you back.

Additional decluttering resources:

Does clutter stress you out? What do you do to feel better?


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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