How to Declutter When You Feel Depressed

When you feel depressed, it may feel impossible to keep up a clean and organized household. Clutter may accumulate and eventually it seems too overwhelming to deal with. The clutter may make you feel more depressed, which may make you less likely to declutter. You might even want to declutter, but the thought of it seems too overwhelming for you to cope.


The good news is that there is a solution. It is possible to declutter when you feel depressed. Here is how you can clear the clutter and even keep up the habit of keeping an organized household.


Spend five minutes a day on the following activities. If the task of decluttering seems too overwhelming, then you are probably stuck on the thought that you have to declutter everything at once. Of course that would feel daunting. It may take the entire day, or even the entire weekend, to declutter everything if you are doing it all at once. So break it down into several five-minute tasks. 


Set a timer for five minutes each time you are working on decluttering. You may stop when the timer goes off, or you may find that you have the emotional energy to continue. Either way, you are doing great!


Take inventory of every space that needs to be decluttered, broken down into small areas. This may take only five minutes of your time. Be kind to yourself if it takes more time. You can do this in more than one sitting if you need to. Do a walk-through of your home and determine every little area that needs to be decluttered. For example, if your desk has four drawers, then take note of each drawer. Or if your food pantry has four shelves, then write down each individual shelf.


After you write down every small area of your home, use this as a master list of what you need to declutter. You will put a checkmark each area on the list once you finish decluttering that area.


Declutter one small area at a time. For example, tackle one drawer of your desk. Spend five minutes clearing the clutter. Throw out anything that is not useful to you, or set it in a “donate” pile. If you find an object that does not belong in the desk and belongs somewhere else, put it in a separate pile and put the objects away where they are supposed to go after you have cleared the desk drawer.


When you are done decluttering, donate the items you do not want but are in good condition. I would suggest donating the items instead of selling them. Selling each item takes longer than dropping off the entire haul at a donation center. If there is an item that you think is worth a good chunk of money, then perhaps consider selling it. But be prepared to follow through on listing the item for sale right after the decluttering project is over. Otherwise, the item you are wishing to sell will clutter your environment, which is the condition you have been trying to avoid.


Once your home is in the condition you desire, commit to keeping it that way. Once you are done using an item, put that item away where it is supposed to go. Do not leave it hanging out on your kitchen table when it belongs in the file cabinet. It usually takes fewer than 30 seconds to put something away. It takes even longer to clear a bunch of clutter, as you have experienced for yourself.


If you find that clutter is creeping up on you again, go back to spending five minutes clearing it during each sitting. 


Clearing the clutter is really simple if you follow these steps. It may take a couple weeks to get all of the decluttering done. Decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint, when you let it accumulate for so long while you feel depressed.


There really is no feeling like the feeling of relief when you are decluttering. It may even be a meditative activity for you, as you eventually fall into a rhythm of spending five minutes decluttering each time. You can commit to five minutes a day if doing it more than once in a day feels like it takes too much of your energy.


I write this from a place of experience. When I feel depressed, I let clutter accumulate like nobody’s business. It used to feel like I could never get rid of all of the clutter, but when I took the approach to decluttering that I just laid out for you, things suddenly shifted. Each time I set out to declutter for only five minutes, I end up feeling a renewed sense of energy and declutter for 15 to 30 minutes each day. This means I make exponential progress.


Once you declutter completely and make a regular practice of putting things away when you are done using them, you may never again have to take on the gargantuan task of clearing everything in your home. But do not beat yourself up if you let clutter accumulate again next time you feel depressed. Do be gentle with yourself. It is easier to accomplish a task when you give yourself grace for not doing it the right way the first time.


Decluttering and keeping an organized household are habits that may take a few times to master. But each time you start a round of intense decluttering, it becomes easier to gain traction and complete the task. Establishing a habit is like building up emotional and mental muscle. It takes time and work to become strong at the habit.


If you find you still struggle with decluttering after a few attempts, journal about what may be blocking you from putting things away as soon as you are finished using them. It may be hard to take fewer than 30 seconds to place the object in its rightful home when you feel depressed. Why is that? Take at least 10 minutes to answer that question.


Is decluttering difficult for you? What is holding you back from decluttering?


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