What Illness Taught Me About Decluttering
Guest Post by – Donna Tressler The Sound Of My Own Wheels
Recently I watched the 2010 Messiest Home in the Country episode of Clean House, which featured a family of four living in a home filled with an incomprehensible amount of clutter. There was a lot of finger pointing in the episode – particularly at the father who “guilt shopped” while he traveled for work, but the thing that struck me as interesting was how illness (the mom was a thyroid cancer survivor) had played a roll in the accumulation of the family’s clutter. Serious illness has a profound affect on people and we all react differently. For this family buying more stuff was the answer to their pain. For me, it was just the opposite.
In 2001 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Initially I was euphoric to have an answer to all the health issues that had plagued me for months, then the reality of living with an incurable (but manageable) illness set in, and I went into denial. I didn’t take care of myself as well as I should, and eventually I went into a flair up of the disease that lasted 16 months.
It was a horrible time in my life and by the time I came out of the flair up, I was physically and mentally exhausted from trying to maintain my job, my house, my marriage, and my relationships with family and friends. It took nearly two years to completely regain my former self, and during that time I began looking for way to improve the quality of my life. In addition to taking better care of myself and managing stress (which is a huge factor in my illness), I looked for ways to simplify my life in the event that I suffered another flair up.
Eventually I realized that the less stuff I have, the less I would have to maintain if I did get that sick again. I’d like to say I had an epiphany and instantly went on a decluttering mission that got rid of every unnecessary item in one fell swoop, but life is rarely that way. Instead it has been a continuous journey of looking at each area of my life with fresh eyes. I began by getting rid of things I didn’t use, clothes I didn’t wear, books I would never read again, and have continued on from there. I’m constantly revisiting a cabinet, a closet, a shelf, and asking what can go from this area?
As I have pared down, I have found that there are several methods that have been most effective for me in getting on, and more importantly staying on, the declutter path. My methods work for existing items in my house and items that I contemplate buying.
- I ask myself if I got “that sick” again, would I want to deal with this item
- I ask myself the questions on the Declutter Decision Making Guide here on 365lessthings
- I ask myself how many hours of working/commuting it would take to pay for the item
Someone once said “life is what happens while you are making other plans.” For me that’s a whole other blog post, but by sticking with my trifecta of clutter busting methods, I have managed to mostly stick to the trail and continue on the decluttering path, which in turn simplifies my life, helps manage my stress and thereby my overall health. It’s a win-win situation.
ITEM 246 OF 365 LESS THINGS
More things I won’t need to iron yay!