Combat Depression with Decluttering

Combat Depression with Decluttering
The clutter-depression cycle is getting more and more attention these days, and as someone who struggled with it, I know first-hand how challenging it can be.
Even one small simple action each day towards getting out of this cycle makes a difference. Like Courtney Carver recommends, take one small step each day and it will change your life.

Getting rid of clutter boosts your self-confidence

Decluttering may also help you feel better about yourself because it’s something of an accomplishment, says Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist based in New York City. “The clutter leads to anxiety, embarrassment, family stresses – some kind of despair,” London says. “When you relieve the problem and learn to throw things away, you feel better.”

You might also begin to tackle deeper problems that cluttering is covering up, he adds. “You’ll find theories of why people do this. They might have unconscious guilt, so they assuage that guilt by carrying out these rituals.” ~ USNews

Getting rid of clutter is typically a very emotional process. People that take my courses are often surprised at the things that come up, the real reasons behind why they kept things in the first place and the freedom that follows when they let things go.

Getting rid of clutter means accepting yourself for who you are

So much of how we live is based on what we want others to think of us.
For some people, this looks like a full calendar and so many volunteer activities they are so busy helping other people, they don’t have time to even think about their own weighty issues.
For others, this looks like a house full of books because they long to escape into a book and live vicariously through a fictional character.
For others, this looks like a houseful of their parent’s belongings, because when their parents passed on, it was easier to take the stuff than to say final goodbyes.
Most of us don’t want to sit alone and think about us, our life, where we are, where we wanted to be and who we want to be in the future.
They are difficult things to process through, but once you have, you will feel the weight lifting off your shoulders.

Getting rid of clutter boosts your physical health

A recent study found that performing at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity, including domestic housework, benefited mental health and lowered risks of psychological problems. ~Everyday Health

And with a clean, inviting kitchen, you are more likely to cook at home and make healthier food choices.  You’re more likely to notice how much water you have been drinking and after sorting through the fridge and pantry, you’re more likely to fill it up with healthy options and limit the packages of snack foods.

How to start when you’re not motivated

Motivation is fickle- it depends sully on our state of mind. So if we’re depressed, how on earth are we supposed to get motivated?
You’re not.
Instead, you can just take an action, disregarding how you feel about it.
I love Mel Robbins’ 5-Second-Rule – you don’t allow yourself to pause and think, if you do, your mind will talk you out of taking action.

As soon as the thought comes into your mind of “I should declutter the coffee cups.” You start counting down… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! And you go to the cupboard and pull out the coffee cups.
As soon as dinner is done and you have the little thought of “I should do the dishes.” You count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! and you walk into the kitchen and do a load of dishes.
Counting down makes your brain stop, it can’t convince you vegging in front of the couch is better, because you are counting down.
Also- you can’t keep going when you get to number one, there are no more thoughts to follow, your option is to do the action.
It’s not going to make it easy to declutter, but it will help you get it done.

Don’t let perfectionism prevent your progress

I know how much perfectionism gets in the way. We all have these ideas of how the job should be done and we don’t want to get it wrong.
Like the old saying “if you can’t do it right the first time…”
But I’m telling you:

Done is better than perfect.

Allow yourself to clean the toilet with a baby wipe.
Allow yourself to mop without a “proper cleaning solution.”
Allow yourself to vacuum without moving the furniture.
It doesn’t matter how you do it- it matters that you do it.
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About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Laurie on 03/24/2018 at 1:52 am

    This article was spot on Rachel. It is amazing how much happier I am when my house is clean and clutter free. Reading posts like this one makes me even more passionate about trying to live a clutter free life. Thank you!

  2. Vivi @idlehomemaker2017 on 04/05/2018 at 8:07 am

    Rachel, your article is really encouraging and the answer to my awful state of time management & where my position in still a long way of how to train my young kids to behave. Thank you deeply.

  3. Janice Erni on 09/21/2018 at 4:32 am

    Done is better than perfect.
    Thank you so much for this. I’ve just discovered your site. I have been suffering through depression, anxiety and I feel like my life is in a rut. I’ve realized that a lot of it is because of the clutter in my house. We moved to our home four years ago. We brought a lot of stuff. My parents are pack rats and I inherited the trait.I had grand plans of organizing and minimizing – I wouldn’t be like my parents, I said. Fast forward to the present. I’ve not gotten rid of the initial clutter and now it has four years of added stuff on top of that. It’s embarassing, to everyone else and to myself. My husband’s been bugging me to ask for help clearing things out, but I always say that only I can do a good job at it so only I will do it. Since a lot of things have gotten in the way, I haven’t actually done anything. I am beating myself up for it, because…why can’t I do it? How come others can have great looking houses and I can’t. I know it’s because I can’t even start so I accomplish nothing. I am proming myself to just *start* – do what I can when I can. And I also promise not to be too hard on myself. Thank you, Rachel!

  4. Kelly on 12/06/2018 at 1:48 pm

    I also appreciated this article….I deal with depression and anxiety and have just way too much stuff in my house. I’m inspired to make 2019 the “Year of Less” and plan on scaling WAY down in the possessions department. I’m nervous because I am a pack rat also but know that the outcome will be well worth the difficulty of parting ways with my “stuff.” Thanks for your inspiration and words of wisdom

  5. Des on 12/11/2018 at 7:54 am

    I’m ready to progress forward. Thank you for the encouragement. I’ve gotten discouraged by my clutter. I’m taking steps to de clutter.

  6. Sheryl Smith on 01/14/2019 at 8:38 am

    This article is encouraging. I am so overwhelmed that I have no clue where to start. I think reading this will me get started even if it is a small task. Thank you.

  7. JP on 07/06/2019 at 8:41 am

    I am a single woman in my early 30’s, who’s been through a lot of personal trauma, and I have daily chronic pain that sucks the energy right out of me. As a result, anxiety, depression, and exhaustion have created the perfect storm for the pack rat ways I grew up with, to materialize into a vicious cycle. It starts off with positive thoughts and intentions, knowing that I’ll feel better after I clean and declutter my house, and then when I start thinking about where to even begin, I subconsciously start clumping all of the things that need to be cleaned and gotten rid of, into one hugely overwhelming job. Then, I tend to get in my own way by letting my brain tell me how exhausted it will make me feel, closely followed by never having started cleaning at all, because by this time, I’m so overwhelmed at the thought of all the work it will be.
    I’ve struggled with the same thought processes for years now, and although I’m working on figuring out the source behind my cleaning and decluttering related anxiety, your blog has FINALLY given me hope, and resource that I can refer back to when I’m struggling.
    Thank you so much for your posts and insight! They have become an invaluable resource for me!

    • Rachel Jones on 07/07/2019 at 1:28 am

      Thank you JP ❤️ It’s such a challenge to switch from seeing EVERYTHING to be able to chunk it down into small do-able jobs. But you can do this. One small step at a time. ❤️

  8. SM on 01/20/2022 at 7:20 pm

    Warning about family who do not live with me offering to help ….. I made the mistake of asking for help and accepting their offer without negotiating a plan of action with the helpers. The family team became space invaders telling me when to be home for their attendance, questioning me when I had to go out, telling me they cant understand how I was so badly disorganised etc etc. This became so much more stressful than it might have been. My trust that they would do the right thing went out the window and I soon found out they had no respect for my requests of them. For the sake of my mental health, my psychiatrist has referred me outside the family to community services for the support I need to continue my decluttering challenge.

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