We all know firsthand the havoc stress wreaks on our bodies. We can definitely feel it. The headfog, the fatigue, the body aches, the eyestrain, the overwhelm. It slowly creeps in and suffocates us. Next thing we know, we’re yelling out the window at taxi cabs, sending angry emails, and bringing the bitch stare back.
Then add a cluttered home or office to the mix, and you have yourself a bonafide hellhole.
Under all that turmoil is clutter. Mental cutter; because stress is born from the inside—in our heads. Same place where clutter gets its start. Two peas in a pod, how cute.
The Clutter of Stress
Stress is clutter, to be more specific. It’s that head junk and mental mess.
Stress sounds like the shoulds of the world, the what ifs, the expectations. It feels like the inadequacies, the limitations, the lies. Along the way, it causes us to doubt ourselves, worry about tomorrow and freak out.
Stress is the guilt that you should have done things differently; the frustration that you didn’t get your way; the anxiety that you’re not good enough; the despair that nothing is going like you expected.
See how this is all just clutter, blinding you from the truth of awareness, peace and clarity? Clutter because it is keeping you on edge and reactive. Stressed, because you feel disconnected and disoriented.
When we’re stressed, it’s hard to relax. If we try to relax the body, the mind’s racing. If we try to relax the mind, the body doesn’t stop fidgeting. I know that nervous energy all too well.
How it is on the inside, so it goes on the outside.
The Stress of Clutter
What goes on in our heads always precedes what goes on in our environment. The mental clutter we hoard amounts to the disheveled rooms, closets and drawers.
Then the physicality of clutter stresses us out. The sight of it invades our thoughts with excessive stimuli, all competing for our attention. Distracting our senses from where we intend our focus to be. Filling the space with nonsense and waste.
This leaves us unproductive and unmotivated.
And no wonder it’s difficult to stay stress-free when clutter seems to pop up all around us, and the pile never gets smaller. The To Do list never gets shorter. The house starts to feel claustrophobic and the backyard stays covered in leaves.
A vacation would be nice.
Declutter and De-stress
By now, we can probably all agree that stress and clutter feed off each other. When we’re stressed, our heads feel clouded and confused. When our physical environment is cluttered, chores don’t get done and bills don’t get paid.
Together, stress and clutter intertwine to create discord, disease, disorder and so on. It’s a vicious cycle that is fueled by more stress and more clutter, which then fuels more stress and more clutter.
When it feels like we’re drowning under the stress of clutter and the clutter of stress, we dream of escaping to somewhere more peaceful—where life isn’t as unsettling or chaotic.
At some point, we may want to stop the insanity. Since stress and clutter are mind-made, we can.
In the same way we created the clutter, we can take the steps to clear up the clutter. We can begin to take care of the mind.
For starters, when you’re feeling stressed (i.e. shallowed breathing, blood boiling, heart racing, shoulders tensing), stop what you’re doing and go get some fresh air. Roll down the windows, put the phone down, whatever. Get out into the sunshine for a few minutes and step away from the stressor. Close your eyes and be present with your breath. Imagine each exhalation sweeping away the clutter from your mind.
After a few cleansing breaths, open your eyes. Get your feet moving and take a quick walk, swinging your arms to oxygenate your blood and relax your shoulders. Keep the deep breaths going, until the mind and heart have settled.
Managing stress and anxiety is the name of the game in my book, The Declutter Code: 10 Simple Steps to Clarity. In it, you’ll get 10 very simple steps to practice daily that will help calm the chaos in and around you. Doesn’t that sound good? Peace of mind. I can hear the ocean waves just thinking about it.