There are few things, like a messy environment, that really aggravate my anxiety. When I walk into my home to see dirty counters, a fridge stuffed with expired food and unmade beds, I feel panicked and down in the dumps, at the same time. On the flip side, when my home is vacuumed, dusted, clutter-free and there is a naturally scented candle burning on the coffee table, tension drains from my body.
A messy, out of control home can make a person feel out of control themselves; it messes with your mind and physical health. Devote time to creating an environment where your mind and body can thrive, without toxins and visual anxiety triggers. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished. A step-by-step approach is often best for people, like me, who tend to become overwhelmed.
Photo by Fotolia/windy Li.
1. Take One Step at a Time
Make a to-do list or commit to accomplishing a certain amount of things every day. Clean the showers and toilets one day, vacuum the next. If dishes are in the sink, quickly put them away to keep them from accumulating. Take a few minutes to wipe down as many things as you can with a little vinegar.
Doing a little here and there will help you feel like your home is always, generally, in order and control. Every bathroom in my home has a bottle of vinegar and a cleaning cloth under the sink. I use it every day to spruce things up, which requires a minimal time investment.
2. Ask for Help
Another great way to make sure things stay tidy is to enlist some help. If other people are making messes, you’ll obviously be much more stressed and your workload will be greater. I always say, “If you help make the messes, you help clean them.” Chores are good for kids and adults, and once they get in the habit it will become another regular part of the day.
3. Let It Go
Clutter is all too often a major culprit in many households. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things. Choose someone you trust to help you sort through your clutter and rationalize what you can, and should, get rid of. Let them guide you through the anxiety of saying goodbye to things you no longer need. Donating items to charity can give you feelings of happiness, along with a sense of calm because you’ll know that someone will treasure the items you have selflessly given up. That’s something to be proud of!
4. Add Final Touches
Once your home is clean, add some special, soothing touches. I love candles; they bring me feelings of peace and comfort. Some brands are actually considered to be quite toxic, so be sure you select ones that are made with natural fragrances, wax and wicks. Lay out some snuggly blankets that complement your décor. Place your favorite book on the coffee table to enjoy when you’re ready to sit on the couch with a fresh cup of tea. Put some dark chocolate in a candy dish for the occasional treat. These are the small, super-simple things that affect brain chemistry in a positive way.
Your environment should be a place of refuge, a much needed retreat. It does take effort to get it that way, but it provides a great sense of accomplishment and pride. These are also important feelings that have a positive brain impact. It's simple: No matter how tiny, good things create good feelings; bad things, such as messes and clutter, create bad feelings. These feelings affect us in a big way. So pull out the vacuum and take a step toward a less anxious, healthier, happier you.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.