Clutter and depression can be a vicious cycle.
Depression can lead to a cluttered home and then the cluttered home can contribute to depression. We get into survival mode and tend to do less about the house when depressed, so it turns into this cycle that is hard to escape.
I have 3 things to share today for you to consider if you find yourself in this painful slump.
Rather than telling you that you need to get your home ship shape in a week, I would say pick one area and make a haven. This is especially important if you are a creative person or you are introverted.
Creative people tend to let fun and life-giving interests go when they feel depressed, but it’s exactly the time they need to make a space for their creative outlet.
Introverts are generally recharged by alone time, and our environment affects our mind. When I went through a period of depression a few years ago, I literally gutted my bedroom, painted the walls, got white bedding, and made a craft desk in the corner. I finally felt like I had a place to relax and recharge where I wasn’t surrounded by clutter.
So pick an area in your house to make it a haven for you. It might be a closet for prayer or an extra bedroom for crafts or a man cave in the garage to do your woodworking. Think back to the things that were life-giving for you to do before you sank into this depression and then make a space for yourself to be able to do it.
Secondly – I would say that one element of depression can be a low self-concept or even self-hatred. I have heard it said that depression is hatred turned inward. To turn it around we need to practice self-love and self-care. Women tend to be great at taking care of others and not great at taking care of ourselves. Liza Baker, my beloved health coach, has been coaching me on what it means to take care of me. Even if you don't feel the love for the precious person you are, the act of practicing it and speaking love to yourself can be powerful. It is an act of faith of coming into agreement with how God created us - so valuable and loved.
Organizing is actually an act of self-care. It’s setting up your future self for success by putting stuff where you can find it when you need it. It’s making an environment that you can thrive in. It’s setting the stage for hospitality where you can easily invite people over without having to clean for a week first!
My suggestion is to make time in your week to do these things and to organize your surroundings since it's a way to care for yourself - not because you think it's one more thing that you "should" be doing.
For me, it looks like a couple hours about twice a week where I do all my laundry, put stuff where it needs to go, and do a little planning for the next few days. For me, being organized doesn't mean everything is always magically tidy. It just means I have a system and a place to put things back into whenever I want or need to.... which is usually only twice a week!
My last and maybe the most important tip is to reevaluate where you find true comfort.
A lot of times, depression can be triggered after a time of loss. Sometimes 5 or 6 things happen in a short time frame and it just feels like too much. Sometimes the depression comes with grief because of losing a loved one, or sometimes it comes because of dashed hopes and expectations that you had for your life. Those are only 2 of many examples.
Whatever the cause is, the loss is real. Now you have a choice of how to respond to the loss. Whether it is to sleep, exercise, work, eat, or shop, you are naturally going to respond somehow.
I notice with my clients that often their retail therapy shopping also comes after disappointment or loss. They shop and buy stuff and it fulfills a need for a minute. It gives a dopamine hit. It either adds to clutter or adds to debt or both, but it rarely comforts the loss for more than a couple days, and then the cycle starts again.
What we are needing and looking for is comfort and God made us to find our comfort in Him. He is El-Shaddai, which means the many-breasted one, which refers to one who is all sufficient for every need we have. He nurtures us and comforts us by the Holy Spirit but we do have to lean in and tune in to receive it. We aren’t able to do that whenever we are shopping or eating or doing any other number of things to numb the pain.
So reevaluate where you find true comfort and then ask Him how you can receive His comfort in a deeper way. This has been an ongoing process for me. It's been a few years since I've even had revelation about the concept, and it's taking time for it to show up in my life in real and practical ways. I'm just saying that because it's a journey and there's not a magic prayer to pray that helps you receive God's comfort and make the negative actions & habits disappear overnight. I literally pray, "God help me receive Your comfort."
To recap, if you're struggling with depression and the clutter cycle is a part of it, here are 3 keys for you to consider and take action with:
If it's all too much and you want a listening ear and helping hand, please email or call me. I have these conversations with people and you can't shock or scare me with your depression and mess. I've been there too.