The Clutter-Depression-Anxiety Cycle: How to Stop It

The Clutter-Depression-Anxiety Cycle: How to Stop It

I shared my personal journey from clutter and depression and I was blown away by the number of people who are in the same place or came from that same place of clutter and emotional turmoil.

It’s a vicious cycle: anxiety or depression can lead to a cluttery home and a cluttery home can lead to depression and more anxiety, and we tend to do less about the house, which makes it even worse yet.


  • Overstimulates our system (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
  • Draws our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  • Makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
  • Constantly reminds our brains that we still have a huge to-do list.
  • Causes anxiety because the idea of sorting piles is overwhelming
  • Creates feelings of guilt and embarrassment, particularly when someone drops by unexpectedly.
  • Frustrates us by making it hard to find anything we need- keys, bills, checkbook, etc.

The clutter in our homes not only makes our homes look bad, but it also makes us feel bad.

In Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century, anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:

A definite link between an over-abundance of household objects (what they called “stressful” home environments) and the homeowner’s health. Definitely affects the woman’s long-term well-being. The book stated that men aren’t as affected by the mess. As they measured cortisol levels over a number of days and in cluttered or messy homes, there was a higher rate of depressed mood toward the evening.

With 3.1% of the world’s children, U.S. consumers purchase more than 40% of the toys consumed globally.

In the United States, they found we have “child-centered homes”, with the children’s belongings spilling out into living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and even parents’ bedrooms. Parents purchase more for their children because they work more to maintain their quality of life and therefore feel guilty about not spending time with their children. Feelings of guilt (and also knowing deep down that material goods are a poor substitute for time together) add to depression and anxiety.

We simply have too much surrounding us.

An average room has over 2,000 visible objects, particularly the office, or computer area that we tend to spend the most time in: emailing, browsing online, children doing homework, etc. It’s no wonder we’re over-stimulated and anxious! Which is one of the reasons my yearly decluttering challenge is not too hard to complete! Generally, we don’t realize just how quickly things add up and just how much of an abundance we have.

Getting rid of things is emotional work.

Even when the family is ready to declutter and be rid of items, they tend to get paralyzed by emotions- either with sentimental attachments, guilt about the value of the items and believing they should sell it, and having such a cramped schedule, they don’t have time to declutter.

Organizing is not simplifying.

We simply can’t purchase enough coordinating storage bins, boxes, and shelves to calm our environment. Putting things in bins just means that our stuff is now semi-controlled. It doesn’t address the core issues you have with collecting or being unable to part with the items, which means you will just continue in with more of the same. To make a difference in your home, you must purge the clutter- and not just a small amount. You must declutter enough so that it is easy to assign places to every single one of your possessions.

Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century is great at documenting the clutter problem, and although fascinating, doesn’t offer any solutions in the book. Don’t worry though there is hope!

Start small, commit to developing a morning and evening routine of washing the dishes, and tossing trash.

Sign up here to get my free routine building checklists:

Then, pull out a timer and work on one drawer, for 10-15 minutes tops.

Stay focused on the one drawer until it’s done (even if it takes a couple of days, it’s ok- progress is still happening!). I recommend starting in the kitchen- it’s the heart of the home. Keep your focus on it for at least a month before moving on to other areas.

Talk positively to yourself.

When you find negative self-talk going on, change it to reaffirm yourself: “I’m too tired” needs to be “I have enough energy”.

“I hate dishes” needs to be “I love having dishes done”.

And “I don’t deserve a nice house” needs to become “I deserve a nice house”.

Tackling the clutter is hard to face when in the midst of depression. But little steps can add up to big accomplishments. One small focused action every day creates a ripple effect, which will eventually lead to a complete change in your entire home. From clutter on all the counters to open clear surfaces in every room. It is possible, and you can accomplish it!

clutter depression anxiety graphic sm

Want to read this article completely ad-free? It’s in my e-book: The Clutter-Depression-Anxiety Cycle: How to Stop It. The E-book includes morning and evening reset checklists to help you get on top of everyday tasks. Click here to buy for $5

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Stacy on 05/28/2015 at 4:02 pm

    I have found that the thing that makes it hard for me to pitch stuff is that it was once something I really wanted and I spent money on it…which makes me feel guilty. But still, it feels so good to let it go. And it’s making me MUCH more thoughtful over every purchase. Great post.

    • Rachel on 05/28/2015 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks Stacy. I know that is hard, and I think the reason it feels so good to let it go, is simply because when we see it daily, we feel that same guilt of “I’m not using it, but spent money on it.” So we get rid of a whole lot of guilt when we let those items go. But they do serve a purpose, don’t they? I love that it’s coming around and making you a more thoughtful consumer!

      • Cathy on 05/28/2015 at 5:58 pm

        I think you also once said that sometimes we get our enjoyment when we purchase something, so to let go of the guilt when we have lost enjoyment of it. I have actually decluttered some clothes I’ve never worn on the basis of this idea.

        • Rachel on 05/29/2015 at 12:41 pm

          Yes, that’s it Cathy! And now you can let the item go, knowing that it already served it’s purpose. 🙂 Marie Kondo talks about that in her book- I love it!

          • Karla on 04/28/2017 at 11:58 pm

            I used to be a very near and organized person until my accident and chronic pain and nerve damage prevented me from being as active. Then my son died suddenly in his sleep in 2010. He was 29 with 2 children. My depression, anxiety and chronic severe pain have kept me almost immobile and my home is building up clutter that I hate but cannot do it alone. It makes me sick that it’s piling up and I feel overwhelmed. I also have so much of my son’s possessions that he kept here and I can’t part with even the smallest thing. His son visits us often and feels comfort with his dad’s room and his possessions close by. I don’t know what to do.Thank you.

        • Angela @ GroceryShrink on 08/26/2015 at 8:10 pm

          Rachel, this is a great article. Growing up my grandmother was a hoarder and it affected our family so badly that any amount of mess makes me feel depressed. So fun to find my friend, Stacy’s comment here :). I have the same problem of feeling guilty for the money spent. Cathy has a great perspective on it. I definitely think it will help.

        • Rebekahj1 on 08/29/2016 at 12:47 pm

          I don’t understand the first part of your comment; could you re-write it, pls.

          • Cindy on 03/05/2018 at 4:47 am

            I too have a problem with clutter. I fell and was paralyzed. It was a long struggle and I became depressed when everything finally caught up with me. Not only do I have clutter, I have piles of clothes all over my bedroom. I just can’t seem to get started on the piles. But I am gonna try the timer thing to work on it 15-30 minutes a night. Thanks for your post!!

        • Chelsea on 05/04/2020 at 12:22 pm

          I have two boys I am getting better at getting rid of stuff slowly. When it comes to books I’ve collected and stored all my olds baby book ten books and now that I’m an adult…adult books. This is where my anxiety gets the best of me not one book has left my house. I cant get over this bump. Any advice?

          • Dena on 09/24/2023 at 11:35 am

            Have you heard of GoodReads? A website/app that lets you record each book you have read [or want to read] and rate it, and make notes about it. Maybe if you joined GoodReads and then each day added five books to this digital memory archive you could let go of those five books? And for me, putting books I am ready to share (not throw away, but SHARE with others) into my neighborhood’s Little Lending Libraries (does your neighborhood have these? Small covered bookshelves in people’s front yards) makes me feel good. I know someone else who loves books will get to enjoy them.

      • Pamela on 08/19/2018 at 5:41 pm

        What about things that mean something to me.
        I have lost my parents and the things they used I am using now. And I have passed on the thing I used to others. Like for instance, my dishes. I have passed those on and am using their dishes. Because I like them and I feel close to them and my past.
        But there are other things that they had that were a part of my growing up. What do I do?

      • Beverly on 02/11/2019 at 4:11 pm

        I have loads of extra stuff that came from my Mother’s home. I have space for it all, but have to change the look to work in my space. I am physically limited right now, so this stuff is driving me nuts. This post made me see the potential of working in small doses, just like I do my dishes. Thanks for turning on that particular light bulb.

        • Linda willis on 01/10/2020 at 5:07 pm

          My grand children 3 of them. Live with me now they live with. Other grandparents they took all things with them they wanted. Im moveing to a small place. How can get rid of rest of there things which is alot

      • Elizabeth Karan on 05/19/2020 at 8:48 pm

        I have some ailments and am mobility challenged. I am not able to clean I am a paper cluttered. I live with a friend who does much to care for me. He works at home. He does my laundry cooks for me and many more personal care giving. He is actually a worse cluttered than I am. Cleaning is not something he does or cares about. My house is now both messy and filthy. We don’t know where to begin or what to do. I am very depressed

    • Tj on 05/13/2017 at 7:46 pm

      The issue for me is waste. Are we filling the landfills or sharing with people that want our unwanted items?

      • Jen on 02/25/2018 at 6:31 am

        This is exactly my struggle!

        • Joyce on 04/02/2020 at 12:39 am

          I totally agree with that as well! I used to be Miss Efficient a place for everything and everything in its place. I worked all my life for doctors and when I retired I thought my hubby of 50yrs and I would see the world!! I could not have been more wrong. Retirement was a disaster and the more I got depressed the more I cluttered. I learned my husband had cancer which we have beat twice and are in the throws of a possible third round. I have started downsizing and I am having such difficulties trying to finish. I have nearly every room in our home upside down with no rescue in sight. I’m now at the procrastination stage of Scarlett O’Hara I will think about it tomorrow. Yet tomorrow HASN’T come.

      • Ruthann on 02/26/2018 at 4:48 pm

        thats why i do freecycle! lessens my guilt

        • Sandra Powell on 11/22/2022 at 7:21 am

          My husband of 53 years is a pack rat and I don’t see him changing. He gets upset if I touch anything and he has 2 rooms and a storage unit full of things he won’t get rid of. I’m depressed thinking about what will happen when he’s gone and we don’t know where everything is. I hate living like this. Any advice? Thxs

      • Majesy on 03/30/2018 at 10:07 pm

        I agree we should share are excess with people who are in need.

        • Sarah on 01/26/2019 at 2:05 am

          Definitely, it feels so good to give things to someone you know will appreciate them and love them as much as you do!
          I recently cleaned out and debunked my sewing room. Besides finding stuff I had forgotten I had, I re-home 4 large containers of fabric and craft items!

      • Linda willis on 01/10/2020 at 5:10 pm

        My grand children 3 of them. Live with me now they live with. Other grandparents they took all things with them they wanted. Im moveing to a small place. How can get rid of rest of there things which is alot

      • Dena on 09/24/2023 at 11:39 am

        Something to consider: if you use Facebook, there are hyper-local groups called Buy Nothing. You can search for your area. In my group, people give away every type of thing you can imagine – from new shoelaces to armoires to food. All items are given away, no bartering or selling. I have received many gifts through my group (in fact furnished an entire rental house for my mom!) and have also felt blessed to give away so many things. The group was mentioned in my son’s health class as a form of “environmental health” becuase it saves so much from landfills and also makes people happy!

    • J. Hon on 09/24/2023 at 5:18 pm

      Same here. I have every computer i ever bought, even though they are useless now. I remember how much they cost and how long it took to save up and buy them.
      Now all my things just seem like a burden to me. I cannot begin to declutter because it makes me so anxious and confused.

  2. Cathy on 05/28/2015 at 6:00 pm

    I am also being much more thoughtful when I spend money – even on food! I have reached over 900 items decluttered in 4 months (started at the beginning of January) and there is so much still to work through. I definitely have a ‘clean’ feeling when I’ve taken another box to the charity shop. Happy days!

  3. Laura Eickstead on 05/28/2015 at 10:28 pm

    I am so happy to have found this. I had no idea this was a real “thing”! This describes me perfectly! I’m looking forward to learning more! Thanks!

    • “Kool aid” on 10/24/2019 at 2:03 pm

      This article DOES make sense. Describes me (holding onto things for emotional reasons) and my husband (anxiety w the clutter) to a tee. I too am going to try the 15’ increments of decluttering. I have to do it when my daughter is not around as she wants to hold onto everything!

  4. Michael John Bertrand on 05/29/2015 at 4:07 am

    I know exactly why I clutter, and it’s not just because depression drains my energy. It’s because emptiness bothers me. Makes me feel like something is going to come out of me, something I would do anything to keep suppressed.
    I need the sensory noise of clutter to keep things under control.
    Dunno what the hell it is, though.

    • lynski on 06/10/2015 at 11:55 am

      I gotta say I find your comment fascinating. We are opposites, clutter suffocates me. No kidding. I’d love to hear more on your perspective, though. Can you, will you elaborate?

      • Teresa on 08/29/2016 at 10:13 am

        I feel the same. Clutter and mess make me feel claustrophobic and anxious. I’ve been working on getting to a minimalist frame of mind. So many outside influences seem bent on hindering me, like my teenage daughter, my ex has his stuff still here, etc. But every step I take forward in this direction lifts my spirits. Sometimes it’s a step back but that’s the way of life isn’t it.

      • susan andrew on 07/14/2019 at 8:31 pm

        WOW! The emptiness is just what makes me feel panic. My husband died in a car crash. I feel like my whole house (life) . Thank You

        • susan andrew on 07/14/2019 at 8:34 pm

          I don’t know where to start. I will work on your 15 minute plan. My life and house are so cluttered

        • Mandy on 09/25/2019 at 6:46 am

          There is, frequently, a toxic relationship between clutter and weight issues. Since my husband and I have been married, my stepdaughter has gained what I’m guessing is more than 70 pounds and her home has become a garbage dump. We now stay in a hotel when visiting because it’s so uncomfortable. She, her husband and their two young children don’t seem depressed but I know I am every time I thankfully walk out their door. On a positive note, visiting them is an inspiration to do a thorough turn out of our own home when we return!! I’m baffled that a seemingly intelligent couple can live the way they do.

    • Katie on 02/11/2016 at 9:14 am

      It’s probably enlightenment Michael. Most people are scared to sit and be still with nothing to do. We are scared to look at our true selves. Mostly what is found there, after some time looking, is silence, peace and love.

      • Kim on 02/15/2016 at 8:23 pm

        I think you are possibly spot on here. Makes complete sense. Being alone is very difficult for many.

        • Cynthia on 08/18/2017 at 3:30 pm

          I’m always alone and it hurts, this is why I sleep with the tv on. I’m afraid of the emptiness inside of me. This is also the reason I can’t walk in my room because of all the clothing I have bought.

          • Paula on 02/11/2018 at 2:57 am

            Me too!

          • Cindy on 03/05/2018 at 4:50 am

            I have the same problem too!

          • Jackie on 07/15/2018 at 4:39 pm

            Get a cat or dog to help you feel less alone. Unconditional love is the best! Adopt from a shelter or rescue group so you know you’re saving a life. Best feeling ever.

          • Izzy on 04/25/2021 at 12:24 pm

            I can relate to this on such a profound level. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m a compulsive shopper, which I have a tremendous amount of shame about. Its a coping mechanism I developed when I was a little girl to deal with various childhood traumas I endured – many of them having to do with having very little sense of safety or security, not feeling comfortable in my home, and not having my emotional needs met. I felt powerless and turned to compulsive shopping to regain my sense of control, self confidence and to build a safe place for myself, and to experience the dopamine hits a child should be getting from a nurturing and unconditionally loving relationship with their parents (which i did not have)
            I too sleep with the tv on because nothing terrifies me more than turning off all of the light and the tv and being in the dark alone with my thoughts.
            I just saw the date you wrote your response – and I’m curious (if your comfortable answering) how or if things have changed for you in the last 3 1/2 years.
            Thank you again for sharing – helps to know I’m not alone

          • Lori on 03/30/2022 at 7:07 am

            Me2 I’ve slept on my couch for over 2 years, I just have GOT to snap outta this and clean .. its overwhelming

      • Teresa V on 08/15/2017 at 1:11 am

        This is me as well!

      • Aimee on 01/22/2020 at 1:41 pm

        Yes, Americans in particular are afraid to be alone with their own thoughts. I can’t speak for other cultures or even other families, of course. It’s just an observation.
        What do I do with this situation: I have a man friend, a suitor of sorts who gives me “stuff “ all the time. Sometimes I need & want the stuff, sometimes not. I tell him to cut back and he does. For a while. He’s given me two and three of some items.

    • A.S. on 10/30/2016 at 11:39 pm

      Hi, Michael John Bertrand. I used to subconsciously feel the same way. I figured out it was because I lived in a house where I was never good enough. I figured out iF I lived in Clutter, that my parents’ criticsm was directed at the stuff, not at me. It took several years of leaRning that criticism is not the end of the world, that my value is not How others feel about me or think of my decisions, and how to be vulnerable that I truly began to conquer clutter as a coping mechanism. Now I am just ridding myself of the obligation I feel Toward the stuff that has been given to or purchased by me. I owe objects nothing, and When they do not serve me any purpose, they in fact serve to harm my life. I am done being harmed by inaNimate objects, so they are out!

      • Cindy on 03/05/2018 at 4:51 am

        Good for You! I too grew up in such a home.

      • jan on 10/22/2018 at 12:47 pm

        This is very good advice!

    • Joanne Thompson on 03/15/2017 at 4:12 pm

      Great insight Michael. CLutter can often be a sign of unresolved Grief. It is not much different than when some people stuff their emotions with food for example or any addictive behaviour which is used to avoid pain that is too unbearable to feel. In the case of clutter some are suppressing deep, painful emotions from their past (often very early childhood) under Stuff. Much of that pain is pre verbal and before the time of our conscious memory. The Stuff is also a way to distract us from feeling our emotions. So yes indeed….that something that you are aware might come out of you is possibly some very deep unresolved grief. (My comment is showing up in all capital letters and I have no idea why as my caps lock is NOT on – I’m not yelling lol. hopefully this posts in lower case)

      • Lyla McLean on 09/22/2017 at 12:07 am

        Thanks for that insight. I wasn’t allowed to have anything I wanted as a child. I could get a coat but it would be an awful, old lady coat, not the stylish one I craved. Now I treat myself but only at the thrift shops. Lately I can hardly breath and I believe it’s the idea of letting go of all the things I wanted and bought for myself.

      • Badlands Babe on 09/10/2019 at 6:57 am

        Jo Anne
        I realize this blog is 2 years old & I don’t know that you’ll see or read this ? But, if you do I just wanted to thank you for what you’ve shared here. Your examples of the underlying reasons for hoarding hit home & ring true for the partner that I’ve been with for the past 12 yrs. It’s ALL taken it’s toll on me personally… His hoarding that is. But, thanks to what you’ve written I know understand why he does it. He’s a very non emotional man. I get an I love you once a year if I’m lucky & it’s usually written in a card & not even verbally spoken. This is a man who will avoid confrontation be it positive or negative because he can’t handle expressing emotions of any kind. You rarely hear him laugh & when he watches something emotional on tv or a movie you can see his eyes get bloodshot & watery but he won’t allow himself to actually shed a tear or speak about anything that has to do with feelings. Only once do I recall him saying that because his mother is cold, unemotional, unpleasant & miserable & could never give him a loving word, a hug, an I love you & any thing he’s ever done, built, repaired, was always met with … That’s nice but, it’s alright/ok but… He said this is why he feels he is so emotionally disconnected himself… So, in him admitting this I’ve known he’s fully aware of his condition & of why he has it.
        Sadly, even with this awareness he does nothing to change it. I’ve met the woman & know her well & she’s got Alzheimer’s & Dementia now but prior to that, I would describe her as a real ball buster who let it be known she didn’t care for men & this was due to her ex husband my partners father cheating on her thru out their entire marriage & then finally serving her with divorce papers so he could marry the last woman he was cheating on her with & by doing that because the woman he was cheating with & went onto marry had a vendetta with my partners mother the bitch forbid him to see his 3 sons who were all under 18 and he still had an obligation & responsibility to these boys to be their father. This man was so much of a coward he allowed & I guess got off on this woman telling him what to do & she meant so much to him obviously that he abandoned his responsibilities to his boys. Yes, he paid child support their mother took him to court regularly always trying to get more & more out of her bitterness towards him that was her way of making him hurt. He was going to pay for leaving her & his 3 sons & pay he did. But, as with most divorces, his son’s were the ones who paid. They lost out on having a father who was nothing but a flandering coward certainly not the example you set for your kids & my partners mother was a hate-filled, uncaring, unloving, bitch who took it out on her boys by the way she with held love from them. So my guess is my partner has tons of unresolved anger, & never got to grieve any of this or speak about it to either parent or to anyone at all so hoarding has & is his way of protecting all that emotion & like a wall it’s his way of not having to deal with all the emotions he feels that still go unexpressed. All of this took place when he was 15 & he’s 53. Now, I’ve just shared the tip of the iceberg with whoever may read this…
        I got myself tangled in this web. I of course had no clue until I was already hook line and sinkered in. We are great partners. There’s not a lot of romance obviously but, I’ve been able to deal with that. What I can no longer deal with is living under the same roof with all of his clutter. I was a good sport for a long time & I realize now this had all taken a toll on me & on my mental well being & he remains & chooses to remain clueless to this. I’ve done everything I can. I can no longer handle living like this. I was always a neat person whose not above having a home that looks lived in but there’s a difference between that & piles of crap everywhere. I’ve developed anxiety that I’d never had before. I even have dreams of the house being so clean that I can’t believe it’s even the same house in my dream & then I have to wake up & the anxiety I get just from opening my eyes & seeing the piles of crap everywhere surrounding me & having to realize it was just a dream immediately brings me to tears & I actually cry. It’s so depressing for me. It’s a never ending battle. I’ll decide to take on a section of one room & no sooner do I think I’m making a tiny dent in this disaster & within a couple of days if that he’s made another pile in the exact area I just cleared out. Then I become filled with anger & resentment. How can I not feel that this behavior isn’t done on purpose & this is his passive aggressive way of disrespecting everything I’ve just done. I feel over whelmed just looking at it all anymore. And I’m exhausted. I feel it’s sucked the life out of me. I feel like it’s used as a distraction & an excuse. We can’t have friends over & he claims it’s embarrassing for him yet he won’t lift a finger to do anything about it. I’m at my wits end. I hate for this to be what’s going to end this relationship but after all these years I’ve come to terms with the fact it will be. I’m dealing with someone who runs from all emotions & is afraid to feel them & so stubborn that he will watch me walk out of here before he will get rid if any of this shit. & I now feel like I’ve got the disease. After all this time I no longer feel that it matters I too can no longer locate anything I need & I’m tired of feelin

        • Pat on 12/25/2019 at 6:35 am

          My heart breaks for you. Please find the courage to move forward in your own life. He’s made the choice for himself. You make the choice for yourself.

        • Jenb on 09/22/2021 at 5:45 pm

          I’m in the exact same boat you are in only it’s my house and he won’t leave. Won’t help won’t clean won’t work won’t help w bills and has to have 10 of everything. Not to get into along story but his issues are deeply rooted by a single burnt up hippie dope whore of a mom that started getting him high at 10. He’s in his 50s and I’m feeling the exact same way you did. My heart is broken and can’t breath and then I read your story and it hurts for you. I don’t want to get the cops involved but he refuses to leave. I need all this crap and clutter gone but I’m the only one who does anything after working everyday. Any advice that won’t lead to me getting beat or anyone going to jail? He is a narcissist sociopath and I’ve tried everything. He’s got to go along w all this crap.

      • Izzy on 04/25/2021 at 12:38 pm

        Thank you so much for your post – I just posted in response to Cynthia about this subject. I am a compulsive shopper / acquirer of objects because of the instant gratification/ dopamine hit and also because i believe it will help me feel better about myself or give me something to do (arts and crafts, books etc.) to avoid the pain, grief, shame, and loneliness within me. Or to avoid feeling empty. When I was a small child i struggled a great deal with feeling unconditional love and support from my parents and felt that i didn’t have that security. From a very young age I turned to inanimate objects (dolls, teddy bears m toys and then eventually clothing, cosmetics etc.) as a way to self sooth and attempt to regain security. I now find that my clutter owns me – I spend all of my time organizing it or selling it etc. not to mention i have severe ADHD. Im now 31 years old and feel totally lost and directionless and paralyzed to move in any direction, and never realized the role clutter maybe playing in holding me back from moving forward.
        Apologies for the long post – I really appreciate what you wrote and am relieved to have found a group of people who seem to understand.

        • Neatangel on 05/29/2021 at 5:20 am

          Hi Izzy I understand completely with a very similar story. The pandemic has helped me face some things within myself and heal. Having the time to declutter has really helped me in my healing journey. My advice is to take it day by day . Room by room. Organize piles: to keep, to donate, to sell. Things to consider clothing that doesn’t fit well or haven’t been worn in over a year. Good luck to you!

    • Summer9125 on 06/25/2018 at 9:48 pm

      Oh my gosh, me too, Michael! Something very similar- sometimes when I clean a pile of garbage, I get this empty feeling, which feels like loneliness. This is in my bedroom and it definitely feels like it has to do with my love life, which makes sense. Like if there’s no clutter to focus on and be bothered by and try to wrestle with, then I have to look within, and work on mending my broken heart over the man I loved who left me. It’s almost easier to have piles of clutter around and be mad at myself for that, rather than for losing someone who was so near and dear to my heart, but I ran away from his love and then he went and married someone else. I definitely think there is an emotional basis to clutter, at least that’s what it feels like to me. I’ve shopped so much to try to fill the emotional void, and now I can’t find places for all my clothes. Well, I’m gonna keep working on this situation, because I like a clean living space (interestingly, I tried typing “home” there instead of “living space,” I got very uncomfortable and couldn’t do it, because to me “home” has always felt like this man, and my apartment just a temporary stop, even though I’ve been there for like 12 years.) Man, I sound like such a loser lol. Yeah my love life is a mess and so is my bedroom.

      • Jenny on 02/09/2019 at 9:28 pm

        This is me, and I’m stuck..and paralyzed to do much except try and brave the dark awful voices in my head when my hand touches something intending to pick it up. It’s a very scary place for me, cleaning. It sounds insane I know. I keep things moving, enough, but it never looks good enough for anyone to come over and my kids suffer.

      • valorini on 05/10/2019 at 1:33 am

        My story is a little different but the scars are the same. Do your sweet self a favor. Stop looking in the store for healing. It’s not there. Trust me, I’ve bought it all. And nothing. The man you ran away from?, (Summer 9125), wasn’t the right guy for you. Period. Go home everyday and say goodbye to the pain and a few of the band-aids that you’ve purchased in the name of feeling better. Bless someone that might need what you no longer really need. Get rid of the things that are weighing you down, rather than letting you walk free. Yes, we spent money on things that we thought were going to make us feel better. Oh well. Lesson learned. Think harder about purchases in the future. For now, black garbage bags are your friend. If you’re like me, once you fill one up with the used ‘band-aids’, worn or not, used or not, you most likely will not even be able to remember what’s in there. Day by day, gratifying trip by trip to the Salvation Army, you’re going to be free. Look inward when you are brave enough and say a prayer to be smarter, stronger and happier in your free life. Let us know about your success <3

        • CPBarn on 05/27/2019 at 6:27 pm

          Your response is excellent advice, thank you for sharing.

        • Rae on 10/08/2020 at 5:53 pm

          Wow Valorini, well written and appreciated. Thank you!!!

    • Charlieg on 09/17/2018 at 2:57 pm

      Michael, one of my sons could never stand to have his room uncluttered. His entire room had to be filled with stuff…..floor, walls, etc. He loved tiny crowded spaces. I found out that was one of the things associated with ADD or ADHD. Maybe you can check it out.

      • Victoria on 10/27/2018 at 9:50 pm

        Charlieg… I think my other half whose the reason I reached out & found Rachel’s site may also have ADD or ADHD amongst the host of other issues in addition to the clutter & hoarding I’ve lived with & that is slowly erroding away at who I am. Thank you for sharing.

    • Rebecca on 09/19/2018 at 11:58 pm

      Sounds like you need distractions to keep you from concentrating on what’s going on in your mind.

  5. Lisa on 05/31/2015 at 1:32 am

    Hi, Rachel. I am so glad I found your website. Reading your articles awakens a deep longing within me that has been little more than a dream for many years. A goal, yes, but a very elusive one. Hearing about what you have accomplished makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, this really is an attainable goal, even for me.
    One thing perhaps you can help me with… I’ve tried to get a copy of your 2015 in 2015 Decluttering Chart, but seem to be having some difficulty. I’ve checked my email several times, but haven’t received a response.
    I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I’ll be tossing as much stuff as I can get the guts to get rid of. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Rachel on 06/02/2015 at 12:28 pm

      Just emailed it to you Lisa!

  6. Lisa on 06/04/2015 at 1:10 am

    May I please also have a copy of your 2015 in 2015 de cluttering chart?

  7. Meryl @ Simple Family Home on 06/08/2015 at 5:32 am

    This is so timely for me. Our family has recently increased our focus on minimalism and decluttering, and one of the reasons we chose to do this is because I suffer from anxiety. Clear, clean spaces are so much more calming and soothing to look at compared to piles of junk nobody needs! The stats about toys are crazy. This has given me a lot to think about – will post my own experiences with anxiety and minimalism on my blog next 🙂

    • Laura on 01/18/2016 at 3:27 am

      Minimalism and decluttering need to be actual cognitive behavioral solutions for those with anxiety or depressive disorders. At the very least, clinicians should be inquiring about the patient’s living situation and exploring it as a possible interference in the person’s ability to function or cope. This is especially true in the U.S., where we are responsible for the bulk of the consumption and “retail therapy” is used as a coping mechanism in itself. You also can’t discount buying stuff as an (unhelpful) antidote to the alienation (baked into capitalism) that people experience.
      There is no antidepressant or anxiolytic med that would have helped me more than the simple act of getting rid of 75-80% of what I owned!

  8. Heather on 07/03/2015 at 6:52 pm

    Hello! I have a family of seven with the possibility of growing. We currently can barely squeeze into a 7 passenger van. What do you think a minimalist family of our size should do for transportation?

    • Mary on 05/09/2017 at 11:21 am

      I hear a pair of draft horses can carry a wagon of about 20 people! Just kidding. I guess you will have to figure out whether driving a bigger van or 2 cars will work better for you. We are a family of 7, too. We were always able to fit in the minivan. The Montana (no longer made) had 8 seats. But we have aged out on the possibility of growing and some of the older ones are moving out so we no longer have to consider this. Some of my friends with more children have the big vans.

  9. Stacy on 07/11/2015 at 11:00 am

    Thank you so much! This article is how I’ve now discovered your website & such. All I can say is, “Where have you been my whole life”? I’m starting right now… on the road to recovery. Going to declutter and not feel bad about it. I have let go of things in the past only to sit and feel bad about it later on. I’ve got a lot of healing to do. Thank you, thank you!!

    • Rachel on 07/13/2015 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you Stacy! <3

  10. Jen Slack on 07/20/2015 at 5:42 pm

    Hi Rachel. I am a professional Organizer and would like to link to this article. Is that ok? I think the article rings very true. Thank you for writing it.

    • Rachel on 07/21/2015 at 2:03 pm

      Absolutely Jen- please feel free to link to it! Thanks so much.

    • Elizabeth Sharp on 03/13/2018 at 3:52 am

      Thank you Rachel. My daughter sent me your link. Soo happy. I write articles for the family young teens and married couples. Always writing enjoy doing so. Need to decluder my small round glass table. I decluder and goes back. My apartment is a one big bedroom living room, one florida room, 1 1/2 bathroom. Don’t feel depress as I am also a missionary reaching homeless, families with needs all the times, all of my life. Always busy doing something different. Reaching people in their spiritual needs. Happy doing so. 🙂

  11. Caroline Bok on 11/22/2015 at 4:37 pm

    Hi! I love having certain things around me and I do regularly declutter. My major problem is my husband’s cluttering or rather major hoarding. He has two rooms in the house, a garage and two outside wooden houses FULL of stuff and keeps promising to get rid of it but when we try doing this he gets an anxiety attack. What can I do in this situation? Caroline

  12. Rachel on 01/24/2016 at 6:47 am

    Every time I declutter, i replace the clutter with more clutter. I think I need this and that, something to cure every ailment. Its beginning to look like a supermarket. Half of it I just don’t use but its always a thought of just in case. I’m not sure what to do because its good on one level and costrophobic on another. From Ra

    • BEE on 04/04/2016 at 3:39 am

      Possible Discontentment and collecting mashed together! Look inside your heart and mind for cures rather than collecting products to fix this and that, which may not even exist. I have found honest self reflection to be the key to solving this and it is a day by day challenge for life, no end goal set, just taking it as it comes in small increments and situations to control any overwhelm-ment. I am myself breaking the collecting habit by constantly being aware of and being honest with myself… “if I could live without it yesterday why do I want it now, and do I NEED it for today??? Live in the present, not some unknown future.

      • Neatangel on 05/29/2021 at 5:24 am

        Love this advice, thank you

  13. Melissa on 02/05/2016 at 4:35 pm

    This has been very helpful for me. I now know that I’m not crazy and that it is an actual proven difference in me and my husband regarding clutter. We are both very analytical people which makes us a bit “OCD” mine has to do with my living environment and his is pretty much everything but living environment to the point he is what I call a hoarder. We live in a rather small house under 1100 sqf and I can count at least 8 empty shipping boxes in just the main living area alone that he is keeping for un-acknowledge able reasoning’s. He just needs them… while I’m having to take an anti-anxiety medication because of it. I will review the webinar and forward him this information. He is receptive to information based on science so hopefully this will help our situation.
    I at least have my perfect “sanctuary” bedroom so when I get too overwhelmed I just go and meditate.

    • Rachel on 02/09/2016 at 4:28 pm

      Glad you have a sanctuary bedroom Melissa. We all need a place to be safe and calm in. <3

  14. Jan Ramsey Brick on 03/22/2016 at 4:07 pm

    Wonderful post Rachel. Everything’s connected isn’t it? The first thing I do when I get up each morning is make the bed. It just starts the day off right! 🙂

    • Sherry on 01/13/2019 at 2:59 am

      Me too my Mom always makes her bed everyday I try to too. I have depression and anxiety I get overwhelmed easy and hsve alot of clutter going start weeding through the clutter so I can feel bette. Love your blog very helpful

  15. Vickie on 05/12/2016 at 2:13 pm

    Help! I am an empty nester that has struggled with anxiety/depression most of my life. Right now I am excited that I found you, because I feel you put me and my cycle into words. I want to be obedient to God, and I know that at this time in my life that involves being a homemaker, I just don’t think I know how. I am going to study your information, I like the idea of breaking it up into morning and evening routines. Any encouraging words would be appreciated.

  16. Cadence on 09/06/2016 at 12:50 pm

    I found this post to be very encouraging. There are a couple of things I do to make the process of de-cluttering less stressful: I don’t think of it as “removing the junk” but rather “How can I bless others?” If I have something that’s just collecting dust, that is an item I can use to bless others. I can give it away fully assured of two things 1: God loves me and because he loves me, if I ever have a need for that item again, He’ll make sure I get it. 2: God loves other people, and I become his hands and feet by giving away something others can use. IN the act of decluttinering, I will listen to a sermon or a podcast on a subject I’m interested in. This makes the process a stimulating experience rather than a burdensome chore.

    • Susan on 10/30/2016 at 6:05 am

      I love this approach because it is completely and thoroughly selfless. The konmari book talks about the “negative energy” contained in the stuff we no longer like, want, or need, and how that weighs us down emotionally. Release it! Let others enjoy it and use it!

    • Rita on 10/07/2017 at 2:03 am

      Great outlook and approach! I have been stuck in my clutter for so many years. Your comments are a great encouragement to me! Rachel, thank you so much for this post and your newsletter! I’m ready to get started!

  17. Lynn on 09/09/2016 at 3:17 am

    This article was like reading a summary of the general information put together by marla cilley which she has shared with hundreds of thousands of people over the last 16 or so years through her books and web forum – Flylady

  18. Liz on 11/22/2016 at 9:18 pm

    I was sitting at Starbucks when I read this, and everyone turned to look at me when I shouted “YES!” Not only is this one of my biggest struggles, but it is exacerbated by the fact that I never successfully trained my kids to keep the house tidy, either. I hope you are doing this challenge in 2017 as well!

    • Rachel on 11/23/2016 at 8:19 pm

      Definitely!! 🙂

  19. Linda howell on 12/15/2016 at 1:28 pm

    Love your idea of ” nourishing minimalism”. I have a difficult time organizing all my “stuff” and letting Go of the sentimental items”! All of the SUGGESTIONSand responses have been encouraging…please KEEP up the good advice! Thanx!!

  20. Kathy on 01/14/2017 at 11:41 am

    I feel like the clutter in my environment is a eeflection of my inside. When I try to do something about it, even if it is just going to be for 15 minutes, I become paralized and can’t do it. It is an emoyional and physical blo. What can I do? It makes me feel out of control and anxious because I know it is a problem but I am unable to do anything about it.

    • Rachel on 01/17/2017 at 8:13 pm

      It may help to box things up and set them aside so it clears your main living spaces for the time being. Talking to a professional can help you figure out what is happening emotionally and give you some tools to move forward. <3

  21. Alising on 02/18/2017 at 10:35 pm

    This is a lot like me. I can actually feel the mess in the house. Even when stuff is behind the sofa and so out of sight i can sense it is there. I find it very stressful as our family of 3 is all very untidy, quite lazy (there. I admitted it!) and also prone to hoard. I am the most ruthless of the 3 but i still keep a lot and my boyfriend is a paperwork hoarder which drives me potty. My daughter develops a deep bond with any toy i suggest donating to charity. Or…she agrees to donate but changes her mind last minute. We have so much ‘stuff’ too that we do need to keep but we have nowhere to store it…it is like shovelling snow in a blizzard in this house. I will definitely check your links out

  22. anduarto on 04/04/2017 at 5:04 pm

    I can attest that “Men aren’t affected by mess” line is completely untrue. I’m convinced my cluttered spaces, both at work (I’m a creative Type) and At home are making me Ill.

    • Damien on 10/18/2017 at 6:47 am

      I agree,I am so sick of the mess my wife makes,built her organisers,extra shelves/presses everywhere, even moved to a bigger house so she could have a room dedicated to cluttered to no avail.
      Specifically searched to see if there’s a link between a messy house and depression because of how this is impacting my mental health. Imagine my relief to find as a man I don’t mind a mess at all.
      Whew, all in my head, that’s a relief!

      • Vivien on 05/13/2018 at 12:55 pm

        I’m glad you were able to share that and it’s good to hear a mans point of view…or maybe not ”man” but fellow clutter sufferer!

  23. Denise Pass on 06/25/2017 at 5:45 pm

    Nice article! Decluttering is so important. God bless you!

  24. margie peterson on 06/27/2017 at 12:07 pm

    Hoarding or cluttering can happen to anyone. I read a wonderful book written by a social worker that it is a way with coping with “failed relationships” or a situation that has not been resolved. I can’t remember the title, but the best instruction was to put sentimental things that you (or a loved one) in a box. Revisit it 6 months later and remove the items that you aren’t still attached to.
    This helped me tremendously. I can’t throwaway my writing homework. That makes sense because I want to be a published novelist. My husband remembers the story from every box of his parents. He is an historian. Now I ask him is it your history or your family’s history? Last month we were able to bring three boxes back to the family farm in Wisconsin.

  25. Alex on 06/28/2017 at 7:42 am

    Why do I have this problem am a
    Guy??? I don’t like to admit it but I am very feminine, physicaly (not as strong or beefy as my brothers) (more estrogen and less testosterone )) is it a cortisol thing? Why don’t other males have this? Do I have a female brain??? If I was a girl I’d more than likely be a tomboy, outdoor adventurus, not saying that i want to be a girl although.
    I just have too many similaratys with females. Any help is appreciated.

  26. Katie on 07/15/2017 at 8:44 pm

    Rachel mentions the book THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP and it completely changed my philosophy on clearing clutter and all the shame around it. The biggest thing I learned was to sort first, store second– we tend to have this idea that if we have space, we should keep things. Nope.
    Another issue I had was getting so caught in just CLEANING my house that I never got to the sorting, organizing, etc. I know it’s not a reality for everyone, but I hired a a house cleaner– four hours, once a month. I buy less crap (less clutter) and use that $25 a week to stay out of the anxiety slide that lands huddled in front of my Netflix– not cleaning or sorting and avoiding my life.

    • Minnie on 10/11/2017 at 3:16 pm

      That’s the way to go, you did what works for you. I have been telling my husband this for years and he still doesn’t believe me so the clutter keeps rising.
      But, today is the first day of the rest of my life. If I throw away 2 or 3 things (knick knacks, clothes I can’t wear, paper (maybe 10 of those) it’s a beginning). I have to start somewhere.

      • Rachel Jones on 10/11/2017 at 6:27 pm

        That’s right Minnie! Each small step is forward movement. ❤️

  27. Cat on 07/17/2017 at 8:13 am

    Flylady can help with this!

  28. Kristina on 10/27/2017 at 1:26 am

    I’m starting to realize I have material bulimia. I binge and purge. I feel like I have nothing in my life, or I don’t feel like I measure up to others, so I go on a spending spree to make my house beautiful with a bunch of stuff. Then I feel stifled by all the stuff, so I purge. Then I go to someone’s house, and the cycle repeats. How on earth do I break this cycle?

    • Rachel Jones on 11/10/2017 at 4:32 pm

      That is a great description, Kristina. It takes a fair amount of self-work, where you have to ask yourself what *you* really want to be and how *you* want your life to look. It will be a process, but I think there are some great self-help books that walk you through embracing who you are and how to stop comparing yourself. I personally have learned a lot from Brene Brown: Many of her books will help you start. ❤️

    • Jessica on 03/07/2018 at 5:18 pm

      Wow! I’ve never heard it described quite this way, but I have many similar behaviors. I know there must be an underlying root cause, but have perhaps been too afraid to address it. I feel anxious just typing this reply.

  29. Michelle Willis on 11/14/2017 at 4:59 pm

    here’s my problem. I have always been very organized, clean and able to find things without much effort. Three years ago, I lost my mother tragically and married a man whose house, can never be a comfort or place of no anxiety. I can’t relax because of all the mess and have a hard time trying to cook meals or function as a human. My children are grown, but will not visit because the house is in such disarray. My husband feels that everything is fine and that clutter and mess. He honestly refrains from taking a shower once a week or not at all, I can’t deal with that. My house looks like a paper bomb went off and I have no help at all to get it clean like I want it to be.

    • michelle church on 03/24/2018 at 11:51 pm

      Oh my gosh! This is kinda almost like my problem.
      I have been in a relationship that honestly depresses the heck out of me, this man will not,pickup after him self,wash dishes, NOTHING! So I thought let’s see how long he can take it so I’ve pretty much let everything go to the point of OMG! IM NEVER GETTING THIS MESS STRAIGHTED OUT!
      It depresses me so I don’t wanna come home when I leave an I don’t wanna get out of the bed of the mornings. It depresses me so much an I honestly don’t know what to do.! I NEED HELP! WHST CAN I DO!

  30. jennie hickman on 11/14/2017 at 5:14 pm

    would like some information about depression,anxiety and address is 4612 robinhood cir straw plains tn 37871.thank you.

  31. Priscilla on 12/27/2017 at 4:30 am

    My 3 children are the ones destroying my home day in and day out. They are of ages old enough to clean up after themselves- they are not little toddlers. My house is a constant mess. I have no usable couch because the one we do have they have destroyed, literally it is nothing but the frame of a couch. I am very depressed about the state of my home and I KNOW that if I just follow them around cleaning I will resent them even more than I do now. I also do not want them to grow up thinking that a woman is going to clean up after them. I cannot have any guests over not even my own mother because I am so embarrassed by their mess. I have to threaten them with spanking in order to get them to move an inch and even after they claim things are “spotless” in their eyes, that is far from reality. I feel almost constant anger toward them, I don’t have it in me to be “nice” when I am surrounded by their filth which they refuse to fully clean up. I understand that I am the mom, the only parent, and I am willing to do things I should like clean dishes and do laundry and tidy up a bit. But I refuse to clean their messes that literally look like a tornado hit inside the house. I can clean my house to the point of spotlessness and less than an hour later they will have it ravaged. I am completely sick of it. I just want to stay in my room with the door locked to get away from them and their messes and I’m so angry over it. I feel like a prisoner and a slave in my own home. They have no respect for my desire to live and function in a clean home.

    • Rachel Jones on 12/30/2017 at 5:52 pm

      Oh Priscilla, I’m so sorry, that must be extremely frustrating. I’ve told my kids many times that if they leave their stuff out, I will dispose of it as I see fit. I’ve had to follow through with that threat a couple times, which has been difficult, but it helped them take me seriously. If they can’t take care of it, they must not need it. When I was young, an older mother told me if I wanted respect, I’d have to out-right demand it, which meant I had to change the way I parented. Parenting is hard. ❤️

  32. Mylinda E White on 01/10/2018 at 1:22 am

    I have clothes. Probably a dump truck full of clothes. Clothes that different people have given me; some fit, some don’t. Some are my style, others aren’t. The issue with me is: If I give them all away, I won’t have them anymore. I want them all to go away but when I start going through the clothes I look at a piece and think, “if I lost 5 pounds I could wear that” or I could wear that if I had a certain shirt or shoes or something”. I come close to having an anxiety attack. I have piles of clothes in every room and most surfaces in my house. AAARRRGGG!!!

  33. Dawn Mustread on 01/24/2018 at 6:13 pm

    After my late husband died, I had a very difficult time getting rid of things, decluttering, and managing the basement full of his things. It took me over 4 years to do. Your I information here is vital to helping folks going through anxiety snd depression to manage their homes and lives. It is also helpful to use the “Countdown Method.” Tell yourself what chore you want to start, countdown from 5, and when you reach 1, move. If it’s difficult to move, imagine a crane lifting you up out of your position.

  34. Whitney Cotton on 01/30/2018 at 12:59 am

    My husband became a hoarder several years ago, I can’t stand all the clutter, I used to try to fight it but the harder I cleaned the more he hoarded. I work Mon.-Fri. and I would clean all weekend and go to work on Monday and by the time I would get home from work in the afternoon there wasn’t a clear surface left. I would try to set boundaries, and he would start raising his voice and throwing a fit. I’m already embarrassed by his hoarding then he raises his voice so the neighborhood hears, I’m a very private person and don’t like attention. I’ve reached my wit’s end, I don’t know what to do, they have been threatening eviction, I own my mobile home so I can’t just walk away, everything is in my name, so legally the house is my responsibility, he has already incurred city fines of about $3000. For junk around the outside of the house. All the utilities are in my name so if I left he would have nothing, he hasn’t worked in 8 or 9 years, he doesn’t see anything wrong with his ways. 20 years ago I said till death do us part?? I guess now I wait.

    • Nancy on 03/11/2018 at 4:06 am

      Till death do us part does not mean till death do I enable. Maybe it’s time for you to get some counseling to help you help him. If helping him is not possible you may have to set boundaries with space or money. If he hasn’t worked, how does he get all his stuff?
      I don’t say this lightly. I am a “till death do you part” believer, and sometimes parting is not with divorce and only for a season, but sometimes people don’t change without consequences. I hope you find answers other than waiting.

    • Karen on 03/24/2018 at 9:44 pm

      Dear Whitney,
      I can honestly relate to your situation. My marriage was not to good to begin with. Marrying two months after meeting did not give us time to get to know each other.
      I didn’t realize it, but my mother-in-law was a hoarder and my husband has the same problem. It got so bad and the place we lived was so unhealthy that, after 23 years of marriage, I moved out.
      We’ve been separated for about 10 years now, but remain friends. I’ve been horrified to see that I have some of the same tendencies. I don’t remember being like this in the past. My problem is not as severe as his, but combined with depression and years of chronic pain, it seems severe to me.
      Amazingly, in the past few years, he has expressed his frustration and dislike for his environment. He is actually doing something about it, baby steps, but nonetheless, he is aware and wants to change. I also want desperately to live in a clean, minimalistic way for many reasons.
      In addition to my husband’s desire to be clear from all the clutter, he has also begun to be more responsible, much less controlling, more willing to admit when he’s wrong, and able to express his feelings much better. We have a long way to go, but we’ve even recently been discussing living together again.
      There were obviously much deeper problems behind the hoarding. I believe that all behaviors are symptoms caused by deeper issues.
      I think from what you’ve shared that there are deeper problems with your husband, too. You mentioned that he “became a hoarder several years ago” and that he hasn’t worked in 8 or 9 years. Did both events happen around the same time? Was there something that triggered him to become a hoarder? it sounds like he has self-respect issues, having a mess around the house, not wanting to provide. . .
      I agree with Nancy that you would do well to seek out some type of professional help for coping skills for yourself if nothing else. Ideally, he needs more help than you can give him, imo.
      I also agree that we are not bound to live with our spouse when it is enabling him and tearing you down on many levels. I believe in the writings of Paul, if I’m not mistaken, there is provision made that a woman can be separated, but she’s not supposed to get with another man. Also remember that same Book states that a man who does not provide for his family is “worse than an infidel.”
      These are just some thoughts I’ve had through my ordeal because I had the same questions you have. I hope I don’t sound preachy or anything at all like that. Not intended that way.
      I still can’t believe that me and my husband are talking about reconciliation. I’m not sure either of us are ready for that. At this point, I still have doubts that it would work, and it would definitely start on a trial basis. I just wanted to share my thus -far story in hope that it may encourage you or anyone going through a similar thing.
      Sorry I’m so long-winded.

      • CynthiaPB on 07/10/2018 at 12:57 pm

        Ladies, there are support groups 4 people whose families are Hoarders. As you can see it because it can become a financial issue, but it’s also an emotional and a health issue. Your first priority has to be yourself, because without your own happiness you can’t be happy with others. The behaviors of your husbands have to be dealt with and it’s up to you to decide what is “acceptable”. I work in housing and one co-worker just deals with hoarders, some units are so bad they have to go in with Tyvek suits. Do you realize that if there’s a fire they might not be able to rescue someone, because the fireman would be put too much at risk at times? Families of Alcoholics and addictions have support groups for families and partners, so do hoarders. I certainly like Karen’s solution about moving out. Whitney, I think you need to see how you can remove your husband from your property. It sounds like he needs to get some help and get back to work to feel self worth. I do think that prayer also helps, but what’s most important is that you reach out to people for support. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re dealing with.

    • Julie on 04/09/2018 at 2:35 am

      I have a similar situation. I have been married for almost 28 years and together for 34 years. I can say the only thing that has keep me sane is my savoir Jesus Christ. Find a church family and become very evolved. It will get you out of your home and give you a purpose to overcome what is going on. You have a friend in Jesus and pour your heart out to him. He will give you the strength you need to deal with it and to move forward and not feel helpless. I have to say I thought I had it bad but there is always someone who has it worse than we do. I was baptized last November and it has been the best thing that has happened to me. I know I have attachments with things and I finally have been able to start getting rids of things and I also know why I have the issue Jesus showed me the way. I focus on him now and not the problem and it helps me get through the emotional torment I’m going through. Jesus loves You

  35. Buffy Yelle on 02/03/2018 at 7:38 am

    Thank you, reading this has helped me so very much. I have so much clothes , shoes , purses , etc. Getting older I don’t use 70 % of my clothes . I’m really trying to give them away . HELP

  36. Elisabeth on 02/28/2018 at 12:43 pm

    This article has changed the way I look at clutter! I struggle with anxiety, and now I know I’m making my life worse by having all this stuff. By the way I’m giving you a shout-out on my blog 🙂

  37. […] to this Pinterest article for making me aware of the fact that clutter can actually cause anxiety.  All the stuff triggers […]

  38. Teresa Rutledge on 03/02/2018 at 10:05 am

    My mother, who had undiagnosed mental illness, was a hoarder. It got so bad that my father, only half jokingly threatened to clean house with matches. Only because she didn’t have enough time, the piles didn’t reach the ceiling, but my father, on a walker, could barely get around the house. I have been trying to fight those tendencies for years, meds and therapy have helped. Also the realization that, just because I bought a dinner set for 8 doesn’t mean I have to keep the set for 8. I pared it down to a set for 4 and donated what I didn’t need. Being homeless, then not retrieving all my belongings from storage made me realize what I could live without and be happy.

    • CynthiaPB on 07/10/2018 at 1:04 pm

      Teresa, congratulations for the progress you’ve made, and especially for dealing with homelessness. Just because our parents were hoarders, doesn’t mean we have to follow in their steps. I definitely like the idea of being minimalistic, but I have many steps to take before I can arrive there. Sometimes I wonder if I could have survived without the medications and therapies, because I definitely didn’t focus on organizing my clutter. Keep up the good work!

  39. Sue on 03/03/2018 at 3:15 pm

    This article describes me perfectly. I’m tired constantly, I feel disheartened, hopeless and helpless. My three children seem to have only one aim every day, and that is to make as much mess as they can. I don’t have the strength to follow them around all day and tell them to clean up. To make it even worse, I have a tendency to leave stuff where I used it because I’m so absent-minded and always rushing to the next thing on my list. I’m just so tired of the constant clutter and mess, I just want to get away from it all.

    • CynthiaPB on 07/10/2018 at 1:13 pm

      That is exactly what I did when my children were younger, and now continue to do even after they have moved out of the house. I rarely stay at home because it’s so overwhelming, but I am now ready to sit down and make a plan. I encourage & challenge you to do the same because you do not want your children 2 live like this. Your kids need to have respect for you, and for their belongings. Do not settle for their misbehaviors. Reach out to other parents and see what works for them, write your own plan, and ask a few for feedback. Schedule a time for a family meeting. I do not know the age of your children but you are the parent & the one in charge. Make sure your plan starts small and is doable. Let us know how you make out. I have faith in you.

  40. Penny Davidson on 03/07/2018 at 8:51 pm

    Today I’m working on a blog post entitled “Spring Works in Mysterious Ways” and since I mention the connection between clutter and mental disorganization, I wanted to link my readers to more on the subject. My blog, Life Over Lunch, which my sister and I co-write is written from a Christian perspective to the religious and non-religious so I am thrilled to find this article and your site! My article will post on March 22, 2018, if you’d like to check it out!

  41. Holly Whiteside on 03/20/2018 at 12:26 pm

    There are so many wonderful comments already, but speaking as someone who continues to make progress every year, I have another suggestion. This, for me, is the power behind letting go of clutter: to have a clear vision of what you want your life to be. Very clear.
    My father was a Hoarder. I also, experienced much loss, of people, and some things… memories… that were kept from me. And I experienced real poverty. So when I had a chance to in my younger life i started collecting things, new and old, giving myself what I wanted, until there was too much stuff.
    The problem was, I gave myself whatever i wanted when I wanted it, without any regard to a bigger picture…. how it would fit in my house and fit in my life. And it wasn’t just “valuable stuff,” right? Im sure you know what i mean… scraps of paper, old mail, unfinished craft projects, even robin’s eggs, lol.
    Then I decided what i actually wanted my life to be like. It started one day, and continues to be fine-tuned. This was hard at first, but I came across things that inspired me and that got tailored into my own vision. As the vision became more clear it became easier to edit my current life to make it match the life i wanted, and easier to refuse purchasing or bringing home anything that didn’t fit the very specific vision! I had a real want (the vision), to replace all the little wants, soothers, and impulses (the clutter).
    It works to this day. In time, just like it was mentioned above in the article… mostly doing a tiny bit every day… a drawer here (I have my underwear in a basket on the floor right now, it goes back in the drawer after used and washed… the rest gets tossed)… the clutter has gone down, down, down.
    Just as important here is changing my shopping/acquiring habits!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t feel this has been emphasized enough. Just like it isn’t just exercise, but diet AND exercise, it can’t just be de-cluttering and still shopping/acquiring without limit, but must be reducing what comes in, also. And most hard-core clutterers here know it isn’t just from shopping… it’s also what we get for “free.” Sometimes the free stuff is the worst part.
    I’m starting to go “zero waste.” My family thinks i’m crazy for this, but it is helping me a great deal in avoiding my “innocent” clutter sources. We are now using up the stockpile of soaps, shampoos, school and office supplies, and so on. ALL picnic supplies are getting donated to a charity. I have a permanent “Out of My House” pile by the door, that is constantly changing as things get put in it and then go out the door to some source that will take it. There right now are our not-working fire extinguishers that need to go to the hazardous waste drop off point. I will not purchase something we “need” until what we have is completely used up what we have, and then I look for a more environmentally friendly product. It works with the vision. I tossed all of my hairbrushes and combs (dozens), and three quarters of my makeup, lotions, etc, and rewarded my progress by purchasing one really nice wooden hairbrush and comb, the only ones I have now.
    Only going ‘away’ from clutter will often feel like deprivation. The vision works because you start to go ‘towards’ something you really want and that gives you pleasure.
    So what I personally recommend is:
    1) Start clarifying your own vision of what you wish your life to be. Keep it simple, but make it clear in your mind and write it down.
    2) Use your vision as the measuring tool of what you purchase and what you don’t keep. It becomes literally a matching game. Does it fit the vision… no? It goes. Yes? it can come in.
    3) Become thoughtful in what you bring in your house. I also limit my shopping now to one day a week (just part of the day), for groceries, clothes, everything. I shop online more, but I wait… and reconsider… for a lonnnng time before purchasing… sometimes months… sometimes years! Delay, delay, and you’ll help yourself and become more choosy. Choosy is good!
    4) Follow this wonderful article, and do a little every day. There are a number of tricks you can do… like removing everything from a drawer and putting back only what you use in a month. Or taking a small pile of papers and insisting you’ll get rid of half of them.
    You will LOVE this. Editing your life is a deeper joy than lots of stuff!

    • CynthiaPB on 07/10/2018 at 1:28 pm

      Holly… love these comments! My dad was a depression baby. He used to go to the dump and bring back more stuff than he brought. It used to drive my mother nuts, unfortunately both have now passed and we’re cleaning out the house. I have so much copper, toilet parts, screws and bolts, baskets, and we’ve only made a dent at 3 and a half tons. What keeps me going is that he taught me to be practical, not cheap. He’d always ask us, do you really need this? Will you feel the same way a month from now? A year from now? He taught me the difference between “want and “need”, and I hope I’ve instilled that value in my children. I I like your idea of zero waste and the basket by the door. Thanks!

      • James on 10/01/2020 at 4:24 pm

        Interesting what you say about your dad being a depression baby. Mine was not only in a depression, but in a Nazi-occupied country, later occupied again before the war ended. He was fine when he was younger, but as he got older, he also started accumulating a huge amount of stuff, and he didn’t often throw anything away. I’ve started to realise now that this behaviour was related to this early life experience.

  42. Karen on 03/24/2018 at 10:02 pm

    I have sooo appreciated this article and all the helpful comments, especially the last one by Holly. It all makes sense, but what if you struggle with the vision itself?
    This is part of what I’m struggling with. I’ve done quite a few different things in my life, but in many ways, I’m still searching for that vision…and I’m 60 years old! LOL
    I have some ideas, but they are a little vague. I don’t have that crystal clear picture, which I’m sure would be great motivation. Do you think it will become clearer as I go forward?
    I sure could use some help/advice on this because it’s been troubling and puzzling me for a long time!

    • Rachel Jones on 03/27/2018 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Karen, here are 2 blog posts with questions to work through:
      Sometimes we find more answers from the “what do I want to avoid?” type questions, instead of looking at “what do I want?”
      When I take people through this process on my course, I ask that they write out their perfect/ideal day: starting by how they wake up, what the morning is like, what they have for breakfast, what they do with the rest of the day, dinner, how they spend their evening. And then you look at “How can I make my home help me achieve this ideal day?”

    • LDC on 04/09/2018 at 12:34 pm

      Wow, thank you!
      So me too!

  43. Majesy on 03/30/2018 at 10:08 pm

    Thank you for the article it was well received and after reading it, it provided better perspective.

  44. Allie on 04/08/2018 at 7:06 pm

    This article describes me perfectly. I’m a mother of 3 small children and when I can’t keep up with the housework and spend quality time with my kids I get very depressed…. I end up doing nothing but sitting on the couch thinking about the mess and the fact that I’m not being the best mother I could be. Here’s my struggle…. I’d love suggestions…. I have a booth in an antique shop where I sell vintage and handmade items. I don’t have just one “niche” though when it comes to handmade. I have a craft room that’s FULL of every kind of craft you could ever imagine and it spills over into the rest of my house…. yet I don’t get anything made because the mess kills my creativity! So how do I purge craft items? My thought process always goes to “but when I see a cute project on Pinterest I want the materials to be able to do it”…. craft stuff costs so much money and I’m afraid if I get rid of my, say, beading materials I will then see a necklace I want to make and I will have to rebuy all of the stuff. I realize there’s no way for me to use all of my supplies in my lifetime though.. what do I do?

  45. Michelle on 04/13/2018 at 5:24 pm

    I always try to remember “Things don’t have feelings” ..the “thing” you’re throwing out will not miss you or be sad that you don’t want it anymore.

  46. Wendy on 04/19/2018 at 2:17 am

    I to felt over whelmed . I do deal with Depression and clutter. I recently found the konmari method, and by following her advice in her book. I put every stitch of clothing I own in the middle of my living room floor, ahem, I had a pile at least 5ft. Tall lots a lot of clothes.! I was hoping to cut it by 50percent and I did. I donated all my clothes to our local women’s shelter. They were so happy to get them.

  47. Janice Baker on 04/27/2018 at 3:34 pm

    Clutter is just a byproduct of our need to fill our lives with stuff to give us momentary happiness. If we spent half the time really enjoying our families and friends as we do shopping for the next great thing to own, we would have truly fulfilling lives. Thanks for writing the article.

  48. Miranda on 05/02/2018 at 7:21 pm

    I have been getting rid of clutter. I’ve gotten rid of so much -4 carloads- and still going h at it. My husband opens our closet which is a master and holds all of the family’s clothes and says, ‘have you gotten rid of more of your clothes? Everytime I open this door it looks emptier ‘ it feels free on the other side. Haha. But i had gotten to the point that as soon as my mandatory duties were finished like cooking, dishes, homeschooling I would shut myself up in my bedroom and let my husband sit with the kids until bedtime. It wasn’t life. Now I make sure I enjoy my people. I take my kids out to play, to the library, yesterday we went in search of a nearby waterfall, we never found it but we had so much fun looking for it and saw so much greenery and farmland. The house is still messy but when I’m home I clean and purge. I also stick to my schedule. Wake up, prepare myself for the day, alone time, breakfast with the kids and after class time we have yard time. Lol. And if the weather doesn’t allow us to go outside we do art or go out. After yard time I come inside and purge some more. Then while I cook supper I clean . I’ve even got the kids helping out. So…heres to living FOR REAL.

    • CynthiaPB on 07/10/2018 at 1:33 pm

      I like your style, keep up the good work and including your children in the project, or should I say lifestyle.

  49. […] have shown that physical clutter can cause anxiety, stress, and depression. You can read more here, here, and/or […]

  50. Sadia on 05/13/2018 at 9:23 pm

    A very interesting and saddening pattern I have found is that women who endure domestic violence in their marriage or relationships, or families that are dysfunctional, often have cluttered homes. Every single family that I can think of that is dysfunctional (like mine) or have similar abusive households, the chaos of their family dynamic is reflected in the chaos and disarray of their homes. It is very frustrating when you can’t escape either. The state of the soul or the mind is reflected by the state of the home.

  51. Kate on 05/17/2018 at 3:22 am

    your article of how clutter affects people strikes true with me with the stress, depression, and stress is so true with me. and I am surprised at the study of how men seem unaffected, (which also frustrates me) my husband and I are both borderline hoarders, my reason is more emotional as everytime I clean or purge, I constantly hear my parents commenting on the ‘junk’ I have and how ‘silly’ my possessions, hobbies/interests are so I tend to shut down emotionally (including happiness and contentment) since the practicality overrules the joy the item means to me. as a result, I often find myself tossing out truly significant (emotionally speaking) which brings regret. Any suggestions to deal with this?

  52. Prapti Sinha on 05/24/2018 at 6:21 pm

    It’s probably enlightenment Michael. Most people are scared to sit and be still with nothing to do. We are scared to look at our true selves. Mostly what is found there, after some time looking, is silence, peace and love.

  53. Loretta Acker on 05/28/2018 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve been battling some awful demons lately. Between seizures, anxiety, depression, BPD and PTSD, sometimes I can barely function! My house has become and overfilled box of anxiety! I’m very slowly getting things done but I’ve been discouraged because I can’t see the results yet. Thanks for the worksheets! Awesome post!

  54. Rich on 06/10/2018 at 2:17 pm

    I’m materialistic to the max. I have to have my stuff. It’s unique because I restore antique radios for a hobby and you have to keep junkers around for parts donors. The room isn’t as bad as Hoarders on A&E but it’s close. It’s just not stuff you toss because it’s the only way to save another “patient”. I like being surrounded. Wide open spaces make me really uncomfortable, I’m the diametric opposite of a claustrophobic.

  55. […] —Rachel Jones, The Clutter-Depression -Anxiety Cycle: How to Stop It […]

  56. Frida on 08/05/2018 at 1:06 am

    Thank you for sharing your insight. It’s nice to have backup and support for what I was already thinking. My question is, “Now, how do I get off the couch?” When I can get up, I get some things done – it’s just that I used to be motor-driven and now I can hardly move. Thank you for your time and gentle reply.

  57. connie sampson on 08/21/2018 at 3:28 am

    I am concerned about Karla who didn’t get an answer. With an accident, chronic pain and then her son’s death, she has every reason to be stressed. Karla, give up the guilt. You don’t need it. For a year or two neat and tidy is not probable. Let them rest awhile. Can your grandson organize all his dad’s stuff in his dad’s room? He can do it and it will be him and his dad’s stuff in that room. It will make him feel better and you and your husband will have more room in the rest of the house. Decide what are the basics you want to start with to reorganize your new world. Number one is time out to enjoy your self. It is essential for your mental health. I have suffered from depression all my life so I know this for certain: guilt and worry don’t drive depression and anxiety away; they multiply it hugely. If it is a bad day, I accept that and pick up a book. If I talk to someone over coffee or by telephone, I usually feel motivated to at least clean the sink. Does your husband understand depression? Explain with no guilt for him. Do you understand it? I owe my life to my counsellor. Can you afford one? (I am one of those dastardly Canadians who enjoy free health care and I don’t have a socialist bone in my body) Are there any seminars, classes, groups near you? Books from the library or infinite info on the net are free. Men and boys are able to sweep, mop, vacuum, do dishes and laundry. Take whatever you can get in terms of help. Eat properly! That’s essential. Take care of yourself. Neat and tidy is good, but so is sane and happy. I hope things are already better as your letter is a year old. Very best of luck. I’ll be rooting for you.

  58. Kristin on 08/25/2018 at 2:30 pm

    For me, I had six children. So, we ammassed so much stuff! I still have my college students here, ages 18, 19 and 22. They treat the place like a crash pad, leaving their stuff everywhere. My husband has many hobbies, and he’s a slob. I feel like it’s me against the world! I work full time, and I have depression and anxiety, which sucks the drive right out of me! When I get home from work (with small preschool aged children) I look around the house, and I’m exhausted and mentally defeated.

    • Hil on 10/16/2018 at 9:02 pm

      Yup, I hear you on mentally defeated.

  59. J. Hoss on 09/19/2018 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for this. I’m learning something new every day about my depression and anxiety combo. I just keep saying I’m just lazy since that’s what I was always told growing up. I need more positive thoughts and your article has helped.

  60. Victoria on 10/27/2018 at 7:30 pm

    Ms. Rachel,
    I chose to reply here because my situation partly deals with keeping things from a family member whose passed ( his grandmother whose house we live in) but, it goes much deeper.
    My situation is making me crazy.
    I just woke up & the dreams I have often, brought me to google & find your site. I have had the dream more than once & i know it’s because of syress, anxiety & depression. I dream I’m in the home I live in except, it’s beautiful, everything is neat & in it’s place. Then comes reality… The minute I open my eyes, I literally cry. Tears will just stream down my cheeks. The very clutter I escaped is there staring me down. I have never lived like this & I would have laughed at anyone who would have told me that I would. It began ten years ago. I met the man I fell in love with, & now I could kick myself in the ass over. How was I to know he was a horder? At first I convinced myself I can handle it, I got this. No problem. I can take charge, get things in order, little did I realize this is a psychological problem that’s far bigger than me… Do we really have to keep everything of grandma’s down to her nylons? She passed years ago, are we living in a museum dedicated to her? Seriously!?
    Now… I’m buried in over my head. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned, cleared, straightened, organized & my thought was he would see that, be happy, & keep up with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I cleaned up the living room when he left for a week. I figured with him home out of town was my opportunity because he will not participate & wants nothing to do with organization & letting things go yet, will not invite or want people over because he’s embarrassed. Go figure. So, I took the week and performed a small miracle. When he returned, he didn’t say… Oh, wow it looks wonderful thank you nope, what he did was flip out. The FIRST thing he noticed was all the crap & clutter missing & of course & asked me where it all was!
    Then later he felt bad & said he was sorry & the living room was great & that’s how he wanted to live & he was sick & tired of living like the horder he is except, he refers to himself as a “collector” lol… When he knows it went beyond collecting years ago. He has every excuse in the world for hanging on to crap. I don’t know what to do anymore. Ultimatums don’t work & they aren’t fair because I realize this is some kind of psychological disorder & of course I can’t get him to go talk to someone about it. It’s a really terrible place to be. I’ve exhausted myself physically, emotionally, mentally over it & during this time I’ve been driven crazy by it. I often wonder if I’m the only one who has this problem & are there other people who this lifestyle has been forced upon or laid in their lap & do they feel the same way I do? I’ve gone thru the if you love me then you’ll change this bit. He was this way before I came along, it’s one of those things he doesn’t share & you are in to deep by the time you find out. The other part of the issue is this… His mother. He will go over to his mother’s, oh you have no idea how deep his issue’s go… His father left his mom when he was a freshman in high school & from that point till now, the job of the man of the house was dysfunctionally placed upon him. This woman has purposely ruined him for every & any woman & he was the perfect one for her to put it on, he has a heart & emotions, the reason I feel in love with the guy. Anyhow, he will pick up & clean over at her house but, because he does all that over there, he does none of it over here. She has nothing but a list of things for him to do any & every time she sees him & then she has the nerve to throw the shape of our house, & our yard in his face… I’ve exploded before & had to walk out. She has a beautiful home & yard inside & out thanks to him & gets & has always gotten the best of everything out of him yet, she’s got the nerve to bitch about her home? I can hardly contain myself. Do you see what I’m saying? This is a web of crap any direction I turn. So, I do understand why he lives in a disorganized disaster but, I can’t live this way & shouldn’t be expected to. I could write a book about it but, I’m pretty sure you can see what I’m caught up in. Living this way has made me depressed & now I have anxiety I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know how to deal with the clutter or, the dysfunction, that is the reason in directly or, directly for the clutter. I know that l have to make some serious decisions one way, or the other. It’s times like these that I wish I was cold & uncaring, like his mother I guess. ALL I know is I can’t continue to wake up in my day off crying. I go to sleep in disorganization & wake up in the same disorganization & I’ve given up, it’s like a contagious disease & out of my own stress, depression & anxiety I feel myself just not having the energy any longer to fight it. I’ve reached that point of mental & emotional burn out & he doesn’t get it. He looks at me like, what’s wrong with you? Unbelievable… Any advice positive or negative would be appreciated. I can attest to the fact that hoarding goes WAY deeper & way beyond anything than we ever know until, you find yourself buried in it yourself.
    I’m tired of waking up feeling this way.
    Sign me disenchanted by it all.

    • Rachel Jones on 10/28/2018 at 10:14 pm

      Victoria, I am so sorry. That must be so difficult! You are so right, hoarding is a deep issue! The only help I can give is to seek a counselor who understands hoarding and can help you and help him. If you know any counselors in your area, ask for a recommendation, or call a local therapist/psychiatrist office and ask them for a recommendation. It would be helpful to get a counselor just for you as well, so you have someone to talk to and how to go about getting you healthy again as well. ❤️

  61. Victoria on 10/27/2018 at 7:37 pm

    P.S. Sorry for the type o’s. It’s even taken over my ability to write.

  62. […] can impede concentration, and even induce anxiety and depression. If you haven’t already done so, go through each room and rid yourself of anything […]

  63. […] a much harder time accomplishing this. Clutter and disorganization are proven to cause feelings of depression and anxiety. Clearing it out as best you can is essential for optimal mental health. Of course, getting rid of […]

  64. Carolyn on 12/07/2018 at 1:58 am

    Really need to access some help. I do crafts and enjoy creating things. Unfortunately the mess and items required and purchased to make things create more clutter. My family are too embarrassed to come and visit. I also have waay too many clothes, buy things for others including grandchildren and friends and children but have found the things that I have given to children put up for sale on buy swap and sell, heartbreaking so they either don’t appreciate the effort and emotions put into the purchases or just don’t care and see easy money.. I know I have issues but when a couple say just get rid of things it gets my back up and then I get more upset and depressed. My son threatens to burn things and daughter keeps on my back although when I ask for a helping hand to sort through things she doesn’t understand as there is no craft based bone in her body. It has been worse since my father passed and the family home was cleared out and sold within 2 weeks and all of mums things were thrown away by sisters although mum was still alive and not allowed to grieve properly. Dads side of the bed was cleared out the afternoon of his death and all of his things gone within five days. Books and photos etc all bundled and either sold or thrown out so the house could be sold and mum bundled off to “live” with one of my siblings.. since then I have had numerous injuries and chronic health conditions including arthritis, bone injuries that have impeded me from doing things including tidying. I am sorry for the rant but I have books galore, materials, craft items, toys, games, fabrics you name it and I feel – I paid for it and I don’t have any other vices so leave me be just help me sort and arrange.

    • Rachel Jones on 12/13/2018 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Carolyn! Sounds like you’ve had a lot of challenges in your life, I’m so sorry! I think it would be best to find a counselor in your area who can help you work through all these feelings and direct you with a plan of action for what you would like to accomplish. If you call a counseling group, they normally have a variety of people on staff, so after asking you a few questions, they can set you up with someone who can help you more specifically. ❤️

  65. S. Smith on 12/09/2018 at 7:18 pm

    I found your site because I was looking to see if there was a medical condition/phrase for the feeling of anxiety and depression that I have when there are too many things around the house. Even when I watch those home shows with decorators putting stuff everywhere, I can become stressed out. I thought something must be wrong with me LOL.
    Glad I found this site. It’s nice to know that I am not the only person who becomes overwhelmed by stuff even though some people might think I am a little too odd because those home shows make me nervous too hehe.

  66. Lori on 12/29/2018 at 7:58 am

    Great article that affects so many of us in varying degrees. 5 yrs ago I moved out of my home that I raised my 3 children in. I found renters & had to get all my stuff out of the house. The first week I was completely overwhelmed & simply would go room to room staring at all the stuff & couldn’t begin. Finally I simply had to SNAP outta it! I called the city & had a dumpster delivered & I started throwing stuff in it. In one day I filled the one I ordered. I called the city & said come empty it. Next day I did it again. I went a bit crazy on the tossing. Why? Because once I got past the EMOTIONAL attachment issues I was having with all the STUFF it was easy for me to let go of it. Then I advertised on Craig’s list I was having an estate sale. N e thing I wanted to keep I placed a sold sign on. Everything else I wanted I had already packed & moved. Whatever was left I sold. Yes, it was weird having people walk thru my home. But, I had to get past it as I was already having people walking up to the door when I said to myself maybe I shouldn’t. Lol. So, I did it! This helped me out soo much. Seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they bought my stuff made me happy.
    Also, I’ve heard people respond saying they don’t want to throw away good stuff, or donate stuff because of the $ spent on it. I felt the same way, BUT, in the end I found that was all an excuse to avoid dealing with my WEIRD emotional connection to these items. It was my way of rationalizing my keeping this STUFF! Once “I” got rid of all my STUFF the weight I had on my shoulders had lifted & I felt a HUGE sense of happiness and accomplishment.
    Now days, 4 yrs later, I start with something small (junk drawer) I find that 50% of it I end up tossing. I’m done & feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Then if time permits I go to my plastic containers & go through them. Usually finding that 50% of them are missing lids & I toss what isn’t complete. Again I end with a sense of accomplishment. Call me weird, but I have to start small & work my way up! Otherwise it is simply to overwhelming emotionally for me to do the junk room, garage, hall closet or even pantry. I also force myself to clean each of these things out every 6 months. I love to have help doing it, but I have a better sense of accomplishment if I do it by myself. Plus it’s such a good feeling when my kids come by & say, “Mom, WOW!”

  67. Kym on 02/19/2019 at 4:33 pm

    I’m not sure how I found this, but man I’m glad I did. Prior to our house flooding due to Harvey, I was meticulous and tidy. Ripping out sheet rock and having to witness months of disgusting muck inside my house, that I was once proud of, I just lost my desire to keep up my house. It truly placed me in a depression that I’m trying to bounce back from. We no longer entertain company. I can’t stand for people to see my house. I’m trying to tackle one room at a time, but just thinking about what needs to be done seems like an insurmountable task and so another day goes by where I don’t do anything. I really want to be proud of my house again.

    • Rachel Jones on 02/19/2019 at 6:51 pm

      I’m sorry Kym! That sounds so challenging. You can make it through this! ❤️

  68. […] I hadn’t really consciously thought about this before, but this weekend I had a chance to read a blog post written by Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism (you might remember that I interviewed her last year in my Reclaim Your Life Interview Series). Anyway, her blog was all about the cycle between Depression, Anxiety and Clutter. […]

  69. Ani on 03/07/2019 at 12:16 am

    I find that it is very hard to get on top of things because we are home a lot. I am a homeschool mom, and think, “I might need these teaching tools” or manipulatives, etc. Also, I am a natural minimalist (before marriage), but my husband has anxiety/hoarding issues, and he refuses to do anything for it, or be medicated, etc. This has really had an affect on me with depression. I feel like I cannot get to the bottom of things with the spaces in our home maxed. It also affects my son negatively. Any help for a partner that refuses help?

  70. […] by most that mess leads to unproductiveness, or worse still, feeling unhappy. And it’s a vicious cycle; anxiety or depression can lead to a messy, cluttered home and a cluttered home can lead to […]

  71. Donovan Chapman on 04/01/2019 at 4:35 pm

    I had a home built in 2014. The home is 3k square foot with 1 acre of land. While being deployed at the time (Air Force retired 2016) my wife was left trying to sort between her job, twins boys school and the closing of the home. It was a lot to juggle but she finally closed of the home 1 April 2014. The day after closing, the property literally collapsed. I returned home to what looked like a home on a hill. After many attempts to have the builder return to survey the damage, he declined to fix it and referred us to the contract. It states “act of god” clause so he felt like he was off the hook. Make a long story short, it has been 5 years. I’ve taken an oversees to try and compensate for the extreme expense. When I am home, I stress constantly about the situation and it causes some discord between me and my wife. I really don’t know how to handle this. It sounds simple but because of the amount of damage that was done, it’s taken everything I have and still not close to being done. Need some advice, I guess !!!!

  72. Izzy on 06/11/2019 at 2:22 am

    Lost my Dad, then my Mom 25 months later and my Husband only a month after her. I’m burying myself in stuff that doesn’t make it any better. I can’t get started clearing away anything. I only want to sleep when I’m not at work.

    • Gavin Smotj-Adams on 01/31/2020 at 8:26 pm

      To say that men are not affected by clutter is a gross generalization. I have anxiety and depression and I am overwhelmed by clutter. I have a parter who constantly buys more stuff that I have to keep cleaning up or around. I am in the process 9f de-cluttering and I am finding I am more and more anxious and stressed. I’m sorry to say this but I find your article crass, man hating and frankly judgemental. Man are just as affected by clutter as women. So please stop using pseudoscience or at least provide links to the peer reviewed journals that prove as you say men are the cause of the clutter and are not affected by it.

    • MumBi on 02/14/2020 at 5:48 am

      Hang in there.
      You have gone through such an emotional and pyschological toll even thinking of this must be commended. SO hang in there. Start slowly.. make yourself some tea or whatever you need to do to get centered and start small, a corner here, a pile there. Keep the boxes and bags ready so you can bag and tag them ready for them to be used and reloved – sometimes thats the best way someone’s memory/ spirit can be honoured instead of burying you under energy and sadness – you get to use their spirit and loved things to bring the same love to others.
      You’ll get there Izzy.

  73. Kristina Reynolds Haney on 06/17/2019 at 6:35 pm

    I have been battling Autoimmune Diseases and Multiple Sclerosis for the last 15 years. As a result, my house is COMPLETELY out of control! I have recently started to dig into this mess! Each time I start in on an area, I become sick(er)! I truly believe that the endless piles of dust is killing me! I did find some water damage in a back room and laundry room, which resulted in mold. I had that mold remediated.
    I constantly itch! I have open, oozing (sorry for the grossness), sores all over my body! These horrible disfiguring sores are predominantly on my face, scalp, chest, back, and lower legs! I have been dealing with this terrible skin disorder since June 20th of 2009, four days after I had my gallbladder removed. The sores seem to itch worse and multiply every time I dig into any area of this house. In addition, I get EXTREME headaches and get nauseous and throw up.
    I want to get this house I order so much! I want my life to resemble some sort of normalcy! How do I do this? I TRULY want order in my life! I NEED order and normalcy in my life! Unfortunately, everyone in my life thinks I’m just a lazy pig, which breaks my heart! They think that if I would just get off my rear, things would get accomplished. They don’t live here with me, so they are not witnesses to what goes on here and how hard I work at it! It really breaks my spirit down when they do this. I TRULY need help!!
    Do you have any suggestions where and how I should begin? PLEASE help me 🙏🏻!
    Thank you for taking the time to read this!
    Kristina Reynolds Haney

    • Rachel Jones on 06/18/2019 at 9:26 pm

      I’m so sorry Kristina! Honestly, I would call your local public assistance office or local disability services. You’ll have to be willing to list out the things you want to keep and be willing to let go of the rest and allow strangers to come in and sort/clean. It may take a caseworker coming into your home to evaluate your needs and determine what services you can qualify for. Large churches often have a list of resources as well and may be able to give you a place to start. ❤️

  74. Rita on 07/08/2019 at 12:05 pm

    It must be synchronicity or serendipity that I’ve come across your site today. We are in the process of getting new wall units, needless to say our old ones needed to be emptied so they could be recycled. Of course I had a ton of “stuff” that needed culling. A lot of it was wedding gifts that we received over 30 years & have never been used. My husband got everything out & I would put into boxes. I was quite proud of myself because I packed 3 large boxes to go to goodwill. All I did was look at an item & asked myself this question: “if I haven’t used this item in 30 years, will I use it in the next 30?” If the answer was always “NO”, then into the “take away” box it went. I was slightly anxious about it all, but when I saw what was left that I wanted to keep, it was like a huge weight off my shoulders. There is more to be done, but as you have said in your article, at least I have started. I know all about anxiety, & though I had high anxiety & borderline depression, I managed to get myself better. I want to thank you for a wonderful & compassionate article.

    • Rachel Jones on 07/09/2019 at 2:04 am

      Thank you Rita! Good work!

  75. Beth on 07/26/2019 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you so much for saying that it should take at least a month of focus for each room/area. That is so freeing. It seems other authors/organizers say each room should be done in a week or less, which is impossible (and quite depressing) for me – which means I give up in frustration. Knowing that it’s okay to take a month or more in each room and not be judged for being unable to whiz through the work is so encouraging!

  76. Shirley on 07/28/2019 at 5:12 pm

    ALL OF US HAVE JUNK WE DON’T NEED. Mon gave ME! that RIGHT? Believe me I had more than most. I RETIRED out of a very large home to a RV. THIS WORKED FOR ME. I put tables in my tripple garage. I took things I didn’t need, didn’t care about. As it sold, I replaced it with things I could do without. I could give up. I took just what I needed including my favorite things for my new small place and looking forward to my new declutered life. It got eaisier as I went and out went grandma’s cluter.

  77. Supria on 08/31/2019 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you! You are God sent.

  78. Francesca on 09/20/2019 at 6:22 pm

    This is such a great blog. The way you explain how clutter impacts our mental health makes so much and articulates so well how people get stuck in a cycle. Thanks for sharing your advice.

  79. […] shown to lead to higher rates of emotional distress by trapping people into a mentally draining clutter-depression-anxiety cycle. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, older adults are at an increased risk of […]

  80. […] her blog Nourishing Minimalism Rachel Jones “It’s a vicious cycle: anxiety or depression can lead to a cluttery home and […]

  81. James on 10/01/2020 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Rachel, I think you’re wrong when you say men aren’t affected by clutter- I certainly am! It got worse a few years ago when my father died, and I suddenly found myself with about twice as much stuff! This was compounded by having a small home with limited storage. I have had several rounds of de-cluttering where I have got rid or lots of ‘things’, and I’m disciplining myself not to buy more unnecessary items! I will also be moving to a bigger home soon, where I will have more space to spread everything out & sort out which items I want to keep, and which ones I want to donate/throw out/sell. Wish me luck!

  82. Jessie Ripley on 10/06/2020 at 10:10 am

    Wow, this site is what I need. I seem to be overly concerned about the recycling component of it all.
    I hate plastic wrap and struggle throwing it away knowing it will sit in a landfill for years. I try and not use it.
    I never got in the habit of purging. My text messages, physical mail, school papers, etc. I struggle with dried up kids paint kits. Do I just throw that in the trash? Do I empty and rinse out the nearly full but expired salad dressing? Same with toiletries. Thank goodness I don’t like shopping. I hate adding to landfills but my house can’t be one.
    I sit and watch TV as an escape. And when I do things I don’t give myself any credit. I have 10 kitchen garbage bags of clothes being dropped off at Savers today.
    Why can’t I be kinder to myself and switch the script? I can’t sleep thinking something is so wrong with me because I don’t see any homes liking like mine in my personal life. Yes, I watch Hoarders. I don’t have that level of an issue but it all seems like the same behaviors. I’m probably a level 1-2 hoarder. Executive functioning not my suit obviously. I seemed to be able to hold a decent job at a high tech company but there were days, I didn’t know where to start. I was in inside sales in software. I wasn’t what I could be. Where is the logical part of my brain?

  83. KB on 03/23/2021 at 6:30 pm

    I find that adult ADHD really causes difficulty in trying to be clutter-free. Busy lives, adult kids living at home til they find a house, etc. is not the problem that causes the clutter. My internal loop is stuck– but I hope to get some new strategies with your genius plan.

  84. Debby on 11/11/2022 at 6:42 pm

    I found the reason I can’t throw things out is because as a Child we moved States and I had to part with all of my toys and dolls. Mum kept all of my beautiful books but I still remember toys I adored . Now I can’t throw it away in case I need it . It’s becoming a problem i need to de clutter but where to start OMG. I have started selling on marketplace and I’m in a food cupboard that has so many use by dates run out . I’m determined to put up my Christmas tree this year so i’m clearing a table just for it . I feel I’m on my way. One I found out why I hung onto it all I found it easier to move on. My Antique collections my kids have said they don’t want so I’m not buying anymore. What’s the point . Sad but why keep it I’ll go through and keep what I want then rest goes to a auction house and my house I hope will be tidy again Yahoo can’t wait.

  85. Cathy Brenner on 07/29/2023 at 12:43 am

    I’m also a late responder. I started keeping articles from magazines and newspapers and collecting recipes when I was in high school for future reference (way before the Internet!). Never used or look for one of them ever! My precious mom and aunt surprised me and unpacked everything for me when I had to make a 10-day international business trip two days after moving back to the area I grew up in, She and my aunt went in, unpacked everything and set up it up completely and they threw all that stuff away. Have never missed it for one moment. I kept a clean place until I went back to college at 49 years old and started teaching high school students in 2008 at 53 years old.

    In 2013, my pack-rat husband and I had to abruptly downsize without any notice when he had a stroke just as we were in the process of closing on the sale of our city home to move and build our retirement home in the country. I had to hire a packing/moving service while he was in ICU and only had the two weeks at Christmas to totally vacate the home. Since we had just built a small metal shop building, I had it quickly converted and remodeled into a one bedroom/one bath “apartment.” It is well insulated, has beautiful kitchen cabinets, all of it drywalled and painted, with easy to keep flooring for pets. We moved from a 3/2 with just under 2000 sq. feet into 900 sq. feet. We have an open concept kitchen/living area with albeit a very small 10×12 bedroom area. It’s comfortable but not the home I envisioned for our retirement years and he has refused to build anything else. We are in what is called a small barndominium structure. The issue is that there is limited storage available and I have to use more furniture pieces than I want for storage, which has taken up a lot of wall space. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I get to wanting and thinking about moving and then I start thinking about what we would be giving up. I’m not ready to do that.

    I have had things in storage for 10 years and not once did I go looking for anything. I’ve made up my mind in January that I was throwing away or donating everything in there. Now, I’m going through my home and doing the same thing. I keep telling my husband that someone could benefit from most of his tools and other things that he is hanging on to but will never use again because of his stroke and to let it go. It’s so depressing to see the stuff he wants to keep. I’m going through and throwing/giving away my excess items as well. I’m not sentimental with stuff and most of it is really just pure junk…stuff I no longer want or need.

    My new thoughts/sayings are “I’ve never seen a U-Haul truck following a hearse to the cemetery” (i.e., we can’t take it with us when we die) and “I want to enjoy the precious time we have left with an organized and CLEAN home and do the things I couldn’t do while working” (i.e., I want to enjoy the “autumn and winter seasons” of my life). I’m slowly getting us there. I still get depressed a lot, but it’s getting better as I get more decluttered. I cleaned out his paper clutter dating back 15+ years last weekend. Finally, he let something go!

    My ultimate goal is to hire a cleaning service to come in and clean everything, ceiling to floor, and get it back in shape and then I’m keeping it up until I have to have help doing so. I’m done living in a pig stye and storage facility! It goes or I go and if I go, I’m taking my share of our financial assets with me. He won’t like it, but I’m not leaving without my portion of our investment. I’ve also recently decided that I will replace the sofa and a few pieces of the other furniture after he is gone if he passes before I do. Until then, I can do something about the clutter and I’m slowly making progress.

    My mother is now in a nursing home on hospice care and I am seeing him starting to decline from post-stroke health issues. Should I pass before he does, he will be able to find any necessary documents, close down the house, and move into assisted living or a nursing home (we have no children). Both have kept me from focusing on what I needed to do at times and now I’m having to catch up on a huge mess. I do a little every day and more on days when I can and also have the energy to do it. I would love to have the energy and drive to be able to work at it for 8 or so hours every day for a week to get it done quickly, but I can’t.

    My turn around happened essentially once I came to recognize and to believe that I have more control than I was allowing myself to have over my home, Otherwise, I would stay depressed. Once I decided to take back control over our home (cooking, cleaning, organizing and decorating it), which is, I believe, a part of every woman’s psyche, my depression has been slowing improving. I believe that is why God gave us Proverbs 31. He gave it to us as our guide for running and managing our homes and our family’s well being. He created this innate desire in our hearts and souls to control and manage our homes and when we give up that control and management of it, either to someone else by their domination/control of us and/or by not doing it or anything at all, then we slowly circle the drain of depression until we are sucked under and into it.

    I took back my authority as the one responsible for the inner workings of our home (the cooking, cleaning, organizing and, especially, the decorating of it). My husband resisted tremendously at first, but has come to realize that I am firmly standing in and on God’s word and belief in the instructions of Proverbs 31 that he’s quit fighting me and has given me back my God-given authority over the management of our home. He helps me when I ask for his help and I am much happier and more secure in my relationships with my husband and with God than I have ever been in the past. He still has times when he fights me over something, but I remind him that God has tasked me with creating and managing our home that eventually he comes around to acceptance and apologizes and tells me that I am right. It hasn’t been easy, but I am much, much happier and becoming depressed less often, and once again slowly coming to live in a more organized and clean home like I did before I married him.

    Final advice —
    Do Not Ever Give Up!
    Have Faith!
    Success Is Attainable!

    Sometimes it is one day at a time or perhaps one step at a time, but your goal/dream is within your reach.

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