I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I fold. That’s what I do. I find that the act of folding brings me to a place of inner resolve, where only I can go and emerge having found my peace. For me, it’s soothing.
When I’m on edge or feeling out of sorts, when exercise is a low priority, at that moment, just because, I roll up my sleeves and fold (anything but fitted sheets). I may even start to clear the clutter, reevaluate my schedule or straighten up the living room. For I know, in a few minutes, it’s going to bring me some needed calm.
Organization and anxiety or stress are inextricably linked.
The simple act of organizing can help you manage stress and reduce anxiety remarkably well.
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!
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The Organization/Stress Connection
Although getting organized can help to reduce anxiety and stress, the fact is, these feelings can also get in the way of you being organized.
It’s a catch-22 situation.
If your stress or anxiety are clouding the way, you may want to consider how many other ‘stressors’ you have and their impact on your life. Stressors come in many forms, whether it’s waiting on a report from your doctor after a medical test, dealing with a difficult boss or coworker, or simply rushing to meet deadlines each day.
The truth is, disorganization adds a tremendous amount of pressure to your life. That’s why organizing can be a stress-relief tool and often, a calming way to reduce anxiety.Being organized takes a great weight off your shoulders. It gives you the space you need to tackle any external life challenges with grace. Click To Tweet
Plus, once you start taking the steps to get organized and notice how your stress and anxiety levels begin to wane, you’ll soon turn to it when the world feels chaotic.
The Benefits of Organizing
I know first-hand that there are many advantages to being organized. Whether you like organizing or not, you can’t deny that these physical and emotional benefits are worth the effort:
- Improves your sleep quality
- Reduces stress
- Improves your relationships
- Frees up time and energy which can be directed to other aspects of your life
- Reduces symptoms of both depression and anxiety
- Increases productivity
- Improves overall well-being
Being organized impacts every facet of your life.
Similarly, a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Journal, found that women with cluttered spaces and “unfinished projects” were more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.
Our minds and bodies thrive on order and routine which is why organizing can feel so cathartic and why we feel so much better in clean and organized spaces.
Organizer vs Perfectionist
As wonderful as organizing can be to relieve stress and reduce anxiety, it can become unhealthy if you use it to strive for perfection – which is an unattainable extreme.
There is a fine line between being organized and being a perfectionist. Perfect is unrealistic and a need for perfection can actually add more stress and anxiety to your life.
So, how can you tell the difference?
It’s all in the way that it makes you feel.
For an organizer, organizing feels like it lightens your load and leaves you feeling calm and in control.
On the other hand, if you feel worried or frantic because things aren’t ‘perfect’ as you organize, or if you’re paralyzed with indecision or just prone to procrastination, you may be dealing with a form of perfectionism.
As with most things in life, it’s all about finding balance.
4 Tips to Find Balance
One way to find balance is through strategic organization which helps you to prioritize in a thoughtful way and leads to aligned action.
Here are strategies that will help you simplify your life and reduce anxiety with smart organizing know-how:
- Set healthy limits – allow time for planning and organizing each day but give yourself a time limit (use a kitchen timer), so that you can move on to your other tasks too, for a truly productive day.
- Focus on worthy organizational causes – instead of trying to re-organize things that are already, relatively, in order, find the areas of real clutter in your life. Whether it be your email inbox, a junk drawer, or your messy closet. Turn your attention to these spaces one at a time and direct your energy into a worthwhile organizational activity.
- Ask yourself, as you’re completing a task, “does this have to be perfect or is it good enough?”
- Go paperless – heaps of paper in the form of bills, mail and receipts can make anyone feel anxious, so it may just be time to go digital and get rid of the paper mess once and for all. Besides, it’s more eco-friendly.
How Cleaning & Organizing Can Reduce Anxiety
So, just why and how does cleaning and organizing help to reduce anxiety?
It’s all about control.
Anxiety causes erratic energy and this energy needs a healthy outlet. That’s why you tend to feel the need to do something physical when you’re anxious. What you really want though, is to feel in control.
Although you may not be able to control certain situations, you can take control of your immediate environment through cleaning and organizing. The repetitive and familiar movements of folding the laundry, clearing away clutter, or sorting are an informal mindfulness practice of sorts that bring you into the present moment and out of your thoughts.
Your inner world and your outer world are more connected than you think.
Whether you organize to reduce anxiety or need to de-clutter in order to minimize life stressors, you can’t deny the end result – a calm mind.
With all the benefits connected to being organized, it’s no wonder that many people turn to cleaning when things feel out of control.
Remember to direct your energy to worthy tasks and don’t allow perfectionism to turn this healthy outlet into an unhealthy obsession.
What is your activity of choice to reduce anxiety and stress?
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