Moving You From Surviving to


Decluttering: One Pile at a Time

Disclaimer: This is NOT my clutter. It’s a free stock photo. But it could be…

Today’s self care for the summer prompt is brought to you by someone who sometimes worries that she is a hoarder. Yep! That’s me!

After we lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, I realized I had accumulated a lot of stuff. Seeing that pile of home debris out front of our home made me feel sad and discouraged. After living without all that stuff for awhile, I felt as though most of that stuff was essentially unnecessary as well.

And almost immediately, people started replenishing household items and my creative supplies. I appreciated that greatly. And felt like I “deserved” to pick up a few things myself. Then, gradually, I started accumulating the same number of bookcases full of books. Add the death of my mom and the acquisition of the things she had kept, I began to realize I had started to accumulate more than I have room to store.

I am confronted with the realization that I have a lot of stuff. And that said piles of stuff sometimes makes me a little less than calm.

At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to make decluttering one of my daily habits. Because it’s so important to me, I decided I needed to spend a little or a lot of time every day going through my stuff and purging what isn’t serving me any more. Or yes, what isn’t bringing me joy. I do like the philosophy of that book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I don’t take it all completely to heart, but there are parts of her process that I think are very effective.

Now you don’t have to declutter every day, but if there’s a space or a category of things you are feeling crowded by, today’s the day to take on the process of decluttering. And note that I said “process” – because it is not an event.

Decluttering takes consistent time and effort. It’s more of a self care activity than many people realize. Getting rid of clutter brings in space for things that will really serve you. However, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings when you are sad about the connection you feel to a particular item. Sometimes we hold on to things that are broken, just because they were given by or belonged to someone we love and miss. Give yourself permission to take a bit of time to let go of things that are emotionally connected.

Clutter lives in your home, your car, and your office.

How many emails show up in your inbox every day that you delete without reading? Are you subscribed to things that just clutter up your inbox?

Is your sock drawer full of “holy socks?”

Are you regularly wearing all your clothes or shoes in the closet?

For me, taking on the task of laying new flooring in about half of our home, I am hyper focused on clutter. As we empty a room, I am mindful of what I can do without so I don’t have to bring the same amount back in. Even though I recently decluttered my clothes and office supplies, I am finding that a second pass through results in the decision to trim off just a little bit more.

And it feels good to release it all! You can donate stuff to a local charity or host a yard sale – both feel great!

Decluttering is an act of self care and creates space for more self care. We feel differently when we carry a lighter load.

Starting now means you will have less stuff before the holidays. Imagine how that would change the way you decorate for and celebrate the holidays? And your clutter just might be someone else’s “Christmas in July.”

What one thing can you do to create or get back into your natural rhythm or flow?

This is a self care question I ask a client when they are feeling overwhelmed.  The “What” they need to do is sometimes clear, but they are feeling like things are too out of control for them to be able to engage in normal or routine activities, leaving less time for self care. In other words, the “What” and “How” are interfering with the “Who.” 

I’m not going to write a whole lot about this video, because I want you to just take it in. I could explain how this relates to self care, but I think by now, you get it and there’s no need.

This is by far one of the most powerful self care tools I have used and shared with my clients and friends.  It’s also one of my favorite Ted Talks, because Amy not only shares the research, but she shares her own vulnerability in a profound way.

This summer’s blockbuster movie proved that Wonder Woman still has a wide appeal. She represents strength, survival and a desire to find the truths necessary to save mankind.

What if Wonder Woman could fight off the bad mojo that creeps into your life?

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to be going your way? It just seems like one thing after another piles on and makes you feel like whatever you do will turn to disaster.

These days, there are a lot of troubling things happening all over the world. It used to be that we got news from a couple of nightly news shows, magazines or the newspaper. But now, we see news throughout various social media platforms and apps, which also provide notifications of breaking stories throughout the day.

This constant exposure to real time, shocking or upsetting information can lead to feelings of anger, frustration or fear. And these emotions can cause anxiety and increase our levels of stress.

Yet in times of stress, many of us crave connection with others. After all, it is this connection that helps us to feel loved and cared for, right?

As adults, we get caught up in work and summer home repairs and chaperoning our children or grandchildren to camp or play dates. We may go on a vacation, but a lot goes into preparing to leave and acclimating back to work and routine when we return. Summer often loses the spontaneity of play we experience as children. 

How often do we say we’re sorry for things we’ve done that don’t require a sorry response? Has guilt become an automatic state of feeling for us?

We often say “Sorry” automatically without even thinking about it. “I’m sorry you’re sick.” “I’m sorry you didn’t get the job.” Neither of these things can be controlled by us, yet we often hear or give a ‘sorry pattern’ response.

Gratitude can change your life.

No kidding. A daily practice of writing down even three things you are grateful for will significantly change your life in many ways. In fact, research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel less anxiety, respond to stress more calmly, sleep better, are more compassionate and even have stronger immune systems. 

On day one, I shared my belief that when we’re in crisis or depleted of energy from our “busyness”, we tend to be reactive rather than responsive. When we create personal energetic reserves, they help us feel as though we are connected to a place of balance and control. And creating personal energetic reserves is the best way to practice self care. 

Your daily habits can be whatever you want them to be and you don’t absolutely have to do each one every day. In fact, at first, it may be hard to fit them all in. And these habits don’t have to be time consuming.

Here’s a gift of self care you can give yourself every week, month or for a few hours whenever you need it most. A Tech Free Day can be one of the slowest and most peaceful days you’ve spent in a long while.