How Cleaning up the Clutter Can Help Your Anxiety

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Cleaning Clutter Anxiety
Cleaning Anxiety Clutter

I will be honest….I am a messy person.

I have spent my life trying not to be.   I am one of those people who will clean my house from top to bottom and swear that it will never get messy again….but two days later I will be surrounded by clutter.   I would like to blame it all on my kids,  but I am just as bad as they are.   When I hear myself getting on them about how messy their rooms are,  I am always wondering if inside their heads they are thinking:

“Are you kidding right now?  YOU are lecturing US about being messy?  You are Queen of the Slobs!!”  

But because they are smart,  they just bite their tongues and begrudgingly start to clean while I walk away knowing what a big huge hypocrite I am.

Cleaning Anxiety Clutter

Cleaning Clutter AnxietyIts not that I’m a dirty  person.  (Although you wouldn’t want to see my  kitchen floor right now.)    I clean toilets and tubs and do the dishes and all that kind of stuff.   Its just that I don’t ever put anything away.    Its like I leave a trail of breadcrumbs wherever I go.  I change my clothes,  and throw them on the bed.   I brush my teeth and leave the toothpaste out on the counter.   I don’t even put the cap back on.  ( I am really bad about caps and lids.  I don’t think I have a single lipstick that still has the top to it.)   I make my kids lunch and leave the peanut butter and jelly sitting out on the counter.

My mind is just always on what I am going to do next and I don’t seem to want to be bothered with wrapping up what I was previously doing.

And an even bigger part of the problem is that I have way too much stuff.   Because not only am I a slob,  but I am a slob that likes to shop.   So you can imagine how cluttered my house can be at times.   I am not into “Hoarders”  territory or anything,  but I definitely panic a little when somebody stops by un-announced,  because there is always stuff everywhere.



But you know,  I had an epiphany the other night,  and I just decided that I am a grown woman with an anxiety disorder.   Not only do I need to start acting like a grown up and learn to pick up after myself,  but all this clutter is not sending my brain the message that I need to be sending it.    I need to be reassuring my brain that I have it together and that I am organized and in control.

And while its true that my brain can’t “see”  the clutter around me all the time,   it knows the reaction I have to all the clutter.

  • It knows how overwhelmed and out of control I feel when I look around me and see stuff out of place everywhere,  every single day.    
  • It knows the dread I feel when I go to bed at night knowing how much work I have to do the next day just to get my house back in order again.  
  • It knows how flustered and frustrated I feel when I can never find ANYTHING because I didn’t put it back where it goes the last time I used it.

And maybe all of this isn’t enough,  on its own,  to send my brain into adrenaline over-drive again,  but it IS enough to prevent me and my brain from being as relaxed as we can be.

Remember that the more relaxed you and your brain are,  the more you will be able to handle the really big stressors and traumas when they happen.     So you want to keep your baseline stress level as low as possible.

Cleaning Anxiety Clutter

Everybody,  and especially those of us with an anxiety disorder,   has a “Stress Limit”.   And if we reach it,  whether its due to one or two big traumatic events or the cumulative effect of multiple,  less traumatic but still stressful events,  our symptoms WILL come back.

Its much like a credit card limit.   Once you reach that credit limit,  there is a price to pay if you go over it.    And once you reach your “Stress Limit”,  there is also a price to pay…….. and we all know what that is.     So I don’t want to be using up any of my  “Stress Credit Line”  on the 5 pairs of jeans laying at the end of my bed that I have to look at every day of my life…… I want to save it up for the when the crap hits the fan,  if you know what I mean.

So I am making it my goal in life to stop being a slob and to get this clutter out of my life.    I brought 4 garbage bags upstairs yesterday and just started going through my closet and pitching stuff.    All the stuff I was planning on selling for a measly 2 bucks….all the clothes that were no longer in style…..anything that I wasn’t absolutely in love with,  I pitched.

And you know what?  It felt so awesome.

I actually enjoyed throwing stuff in bags.   It felt so good to just get rid of all that crap.   I always thought maybe I had some slightly hoarderish tendencies,  because I do tend to get attached to my possessions – and it would make sense since hoarding is an anxiety disorder.     But I think I killed that notion.    I am apparently the opposite of a hoarder.    I LOVE throwing things away.    I can’t be certain but I may have gotten slightly high from it.

Cleaning Clutter Anxiety

And you should see my closet now.   I can almost hear angels softly singing “Hallelujah” when I open up the closet doors.   It is organized; it is tidy – not over-filled.   And it feels good when I look in there now; it makes me feel “together”.   When I go to get a shirt,  my brain stays calm as opposed to feeling that sense of dread that I used to get when looking in there.

How great would it be if I felt that way every time I walked into any room of my house?

But,  I live in a house with a lot of rooms so I have a long way to go before that happens.   And with 5 kids,  who am I kidding?   I may never achieve that goal.    But I am going to do the best I can to make a plan and make it happen and train myself to quit being such a disorganized person.    I honestly believe my life will be better for it and I really recommend you try it too if you feel that you have issues with clutter.

Cleaning Anxiety Clutter

The state of our mind affects our surroundings and our surroundings affect the state of our mind.   If the two are in sync….in a positive way….I think it could really help bring some calm into our lives.

Check out for some more useful information on how clutter affects our moods as well as some tips on how to get a little more organized!

For a fantastic, easy to read guide to help you declutter your world and change your life check out The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing found here on Amazon.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.


cleaning, anxiety, clutterCleaning, Anxiety, Clutter


Header Image: Pixabay

AnnaLisa Scott
AnnaLisa Scott is a full time blogger living successfully with an anxiety disorder, who is passionate about helping people change their relationship with anxiety. has helped thousands of people see their anxiety disorders in a new light and manage their symptoms through self empowerment, self care, and other natural methods.


  1. I totally relate to this. My gran used to say ‘cluttered home cluttered mind’. I suffer with mental health issues including anxiety and I have difficulty staying on top of housework. I get very overwhelmed by the thought of attempting to clear the clutter. Recently I had a new carpet fitted in my lounge and as I put furniture back I began a huge Spring clean/clearout! I gave away about 40 books, a huge bag of clothes and other stuff to a fundraising event for a woman with terminal cancer who needed to pay for some treatment. I do feel better clearing out what I no longer need but I know it won’t be my last clearout. I gain piles of paperwork etc without any effort!

    1. Oh my goodness, I have those piles too. You should see my desk. One day it will be nice and clean and then the next day my inbox will be an avalanche waiting to happen. Good for you for clearing out some stuff and helping a friend at the same time. xoxo I am in the process of starting another round of clearing out stuff as well. Can’t wait to get started. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Wow. I’m smiling to the point of looking silly (sillier?) while reading this. I TOTALLY have toothpaste issue. Just got scolded for that one over the weekend 🙁 The lipstick issue, not so much 😉
    My problem seems to be (and recovery has taught me that this is true) finishing what I start. I read a book recently that some of us (substance abusers/anxiety issues) simply cannot do one thing at a time. I always have at least two things going. And I seem to do is compulsively. Then I wonder why I forget half the time, to “button up”, as I call it, all of my little tasks. Well…if I was a bit more organized up front instead of diving headlong into 1/2 a dozen things, maybe I’d be better and finishing.

    Hmmm…I feel another blog post coming on ….. if I could remember to finish it.

    Love your stuff! Thanks for posting

    1. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. Does your problem extend to pens as well, as mine does? lol Like you, I also have about 5 different projects going at a time and never button one up before moving on. Yes, you should definitely blog about that!

  3. Love this. Im exactly the same except I don’t have kids! I always feel so much better when I have had a tidy up.

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