19. Decluttering during unsettling times - Conny Graf

Decluttering during unsettling times is not trivial. Clutter stresses us out and therefore, as I said before on this podcast, clutter stresses us out and therefore decluttering is self-love and is self-care.

If all the events going on out in the world stress you out, and your home is a mess that stresses you out too you have nowhere to relax and rejuvenate, you are stressed all the time. And I know for myself, if I am all stressed out I am not able to help, I am not able to be fully present.

So listen in to my thoughts on decluttering during unsettling times, how it is sometimes a good thing when it's not easy and we have to step up and take responsibility.

In this episode you hear me talk about 

  • how decluttering is for you and your well being. Not to create a peaceful environment especially now during these unprecedented times is the opposite of self-care and self-love
  • just because things got a bit more complicated or less easy, doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Step up, take responsibility and find ways to do it anyways. 
  • clutter starts when we buy things that we don't use and become clutter in our home


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Today I want to talk about decluttering during unprecedented and unsettling times. I actually wanted to do this two weeks ago already, but I wasn't able to, I couldn't get it written (and recorded) in a way that I felt happy with.

There is so much heartbreaking stuff going on in the world right now, it has thrown me off and affected me emotionally, maybe it's the same for you.

You might think that it's trivial to deal with clutter, I don't think so, as I said before on this podcast, clutter stresses us out and therefore decluttering is self-love and is self-care. We can only give and help if our cup is full, when we put the oxygen mask on first.

If all the events going on out in the world stress you out, and your home is a mess that stresses you out too you have nowhere to relax and rejuvenate, you are stressed all the time. And I know for myself, if I am all stressed out I am not able to help, I am not able to be fully present.

Stress takes a toll on the body and because the body is so busy with dealing with the stress it doesn't have as much energy to keep up the immune system. Especially with the corona virus you need a healthy and good immune system, so reducing stress in your life, where you can, where you have control over it, is actually very important right now.

But then I had someone post in my Fb-community a couple of weeks back and she said that

she has continued with decluttering but now she has the challenge of the limited options on getting rid of the stuff because of the pandemic. Most organizations are not accepting donations right now, or are even closed, and she said it discourages from cleaning and decluttering her space. 

Facebook is funny sometimes with notifications so by the time I was notified of her post it had been a couple of hours and other people had already commented on her post. Some offered great resources and ideas on where to donate or who to contact - that is what I feel the great advantage of such a supportive community.
But then there were also a few people who jumped in and said too that they feel discouraged and have stuff piling up in their home that drives them crazy. 

It's interesting how the human brain works right? Before we decluttered we have these items in our home and they don't bother us or they did bother us but we chose to ignore it and not do anything about it. Then for what ever reason we start taking action and make changes and now it can't go fast and easy enough. So there are a few things going on here that I'd like to talk about.

First, about feeling discouragedThis is where we go back to decluttering is self-love and self-care. We are doing it for us, we want to create a supportive environment that we feel comfortable in. And yes, in normal times I am animate about you getting the things you are ready to let go out of the house.
I can't tell you how often I had to be on my clients case about that. Clients who would store the bags and boxes of stuff they had decluttered in their garage or basement for months, or who would load them in their car but then drive around with their clutter for weeks before they would finally drop it off at goodwill or the shelter. 

So yes, in normal times, I am very animate that you take this stuff out of your house and to goodwill right away, because until you do the decluttering job isn't done

But we are in unprecedented times right now, we had to go through a lot of changes, a lot of things are not how they used to be and might never be again how they used to be, so where do we go from here?

If you don't declutter and stay in your mess or chaos or cluttered environment just because you can't just easily drop off the decluttered items at the next thrift store or missionary you are not doing yourself a service.

The process of decluttering physical items helps us sort our thoughts and feelings, it's very much like my favourite quote: As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul. If you start making room in your outer space and surroundings you are simultaneously creating space in your inner wold. That alone is already a huge benefit for you and your wellbeing.

You are taking care of you and your nervous system because it is scientifically proven that a calm environment helps us feel calmer and a chaotic environment can have negative effect on us and make us feel stressed and overwhelmed.
So don't get discouraged and still take care of your environment, make sure it's supportive and continue to declutter and let go of things that you don't like anymore, that you don't use anymore, that don't serve you anymore. 

Ok now you are at the point that you did declutter and you feel better about your home and surroundings but now you can't get rid of the items because due to the pandemic most organizations still can't accept donations.

Let's just take a minute and realize and acknowledge how privileged we were before, and might be again in the near future, that we could just drive somewhere and drop off anything and everything that we don't want anymore, we could just get rid of it in an easy way and make it someone else's problem...

Now we have to become a bit more thoughtful and a bit more creative. Have you listened to last weeks episode where Julie shared with us how she challenged herself to not spend any money for an entire year? She still didn't want to miss out on great experiences, and she for sure didn't want her daughter to miss out on experiences or go without because of her challenge. So she got creative, she came up with creative ways to get what she wanted and needed, and to do what she wanted and needes.

You too can become a bit more creative. Because one thing is for sure, there are still people out there, maybe now even more than ever, that could use what you want to get rid of. There are still people out there, if not more now during and after this lockdown, that need what you have, that need what you want to get rid of.
The only obstacle you have now is, you have to find those people yourself and can't just drop it off somewhere and make it someone else's job or you have to find a place out of your way to store the items until these goodwill organizations open up again. 

There are many platforms that help you finding these people, there is Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and others where you can post these items for free or low price and then there can be no-contact pick up or drop-off.  There is also people that come and pick up your unwanted things and take care of them for you, you just have to find them. Of course it takes a bit more effort and it's not always comfortable to have to do this - and just to be clear, I am just like you, I prefer easy as well, but I acknowledge not everything can be easy.

And easy is not always our best friend either.

Maybe you have to become creative on where for now you can store these bags of things that you want to donate. Maybe they have to sit in a corner in the garage or the basement, if you don't have such a space, maybe they have to sit in a closet, or you have them in the trunk of your car for now. It's not such a bad thing to have to hang on to them a bit longer... to have to deal with them a bit longer and acknowledge our responsibility for them.

If you really feel like it needs to get out of the house now you could always throw it in the garbage or bring it to the rubbish tip or landfill.

Often people are shocked when I say this and to be clear, I am not saying you should just throw everything in the garbage, especially not when it's still useful to someone else. But, on the other hand, it doesn't help anyone and for sure not you, if you keep it cluttering up your home and life and stress you out.

Clutter doesn't happen when we declutter, clutter happens when we buy things. Often we buy things because we are stressed and instead of dealing with our emotions we cover them up with short-term positive feelings of getting something new. The minute we buy something we become responsible for it, it's in our world. If we want to be a better steward of this earth and our environment, if we want to help reduce waste, it has to start with us and we have to be more mindful before we let items enter our life.

The reason why something is produced and manufactured is because there is demand. If we stop going out and mindlessly buy so much stuff that shortly after becomes clutter, we actively help the earth and we actively help reduce waste.
Because whether or not you want to hear it, everything is eventually garbage. Even if you are trying really hard now to find a good home, or give it to someone in need, eventually that person can't use it anymore, maybe the item becomes so worn out, that it can't be passed on anymore and it is garbage.

Ok let's summarize

  • decluttering is for you and your well being, to not create a peaceful environment especially now during these unprecedented times is the opposite of self-care and self-love
  •  just because things got a bit more complicated or less easy, doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Step up, take responsibility and find ways to do it anyways. I feel that's what is needed now in a lot of issues we have in the world, that we have to step up, take responsibility and do the work.
  • clutter starts when there is demand for things to be produced and when we buy things that we don't use and become clutter in our home
    I know this episode has been a bit of tough love, but if we want things to change, we have to change, and change is not very comfortable, especially not to go from easy to more mindful. But that's what is asked from us now - me included. 

By the way, the lady who originally posted and said she feels discouraged circled back and said that her building re-opened and emptied their rid-room and will organize a pick-up in a month. plus her neighbours mother will take other items to the women's shelter. Eventually she found solutions and because she posted in the Fb-community she, and all of the group members,  got various new ideas for the future on where to donate or drop off items. 

Ok my friends, that's it for this week, and as always, don't just read the blog or listen to my podcast, take action, keep decluttering, keep organizing a few minutes a day keeps the chaos away.

If you struggle with decluttering certain items or certain areas in your home, comment below or send me a message and tell me about it, I might create a podcast episode talking about it. 

If you have any questions

If you have a question about decluttering, organizing or something you heard me talk about on the podcast I'd like to invite you to a free public call "ask Conny". You can ask me a question anonymously or just listen in what others ask.

Register here, I look forward to seeing you there. 

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