Posted on October 12th, 2020
Hoarding is more than a bad habit: It’s a very real mental disorder that affects between 2-6% of American adults. Left untreated, hoarding disorder can contribute to a number of mental and physical health problems by profoundly disrupting the home environment. Living in a chronically cluttered home is associated with everything from higher rates of anxiety and depression to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses, like COPD and asthma. Cluttered homes are also more vulnerable to pest infestations and fires.
For those who have genuine hoarding disorder, professional help is key to getting better. If you only need to address a mild to moderate clutter problem, on the other hand, there are a number of strategies that can effectively reduce hoarding tendencies. Below, we’ll share some expert tips on how to get clutter under control – and keep it that way. You may prefer to get in touch with home cleaning specialists in Edmond so you know you’ll be happy with the results.
6 Ways to Prevent Hoarding
Figure out what’s driving your need to keep excess “stuff.”
People begin hoarding for a wide variety of different reasons. For some people, hoarding is related to experiencing scarcity early in life. For others, hoarding stems from a fear of forgetting: Many hoarders report worrying that if they get rid of certain objects, they’ll lose the memories attached to them.
If your house feels too crowded for comfort, sit down and analyze why you’re having a hard time decluttering. For example, there might be stuff taking up space in your entryway. Once you’ve identified the root cause of your behavior, work out a solution that addresses your emotional needs while still freeing up space in your home. For example, if you’re worried about forgetting important memories, choose a limited number of truly special keepsakes to hold onto. Then, take digital photos of your other sentimental objects before giving them away. This way, you’ll be able to look at pictures of the objects to improve your recall of special events, rather than having to keep them all.
Do away with duplicates.
Most people are guilty of storing old items that could, potentially, still be useful. We leave worn jackets and shoes in our closets so we have spare attire, for example, rather than throwing them out after we replace them and that can leave our closets disorganized. Or, we keep still-functional small appliances long after upgrading to newer models, “just in case” they prove useful one day.
While it’s tempting to keep items that still have some life left in them, in reality, these objects seldom see the light of day again. Instead, they take up valuable storage space and collect dust, leaving less room for the things we actually are using. To reduce clutter in your home, it’s better to get rid of duplicate items. Remember: You can always donate them to charity to prevent them from going to waste.
When tackling clutter, start small.
If your house is packed with excess stuff, you probably feel completely overwhelmed by the thought of sorting through your possessions. Make the process easy for yourself – and reduce the temptation to procrastinate – by working in small increments at first. Either have one 15-minute decluttering session per day, or commit to getting rid of five items per day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much tidier your home looks after just a week of practicing this good habit.
Use a few simple questions to figure out whether or not you need something.
People with hoarding tendencies are prone to overthinking what they should keep, and why. They think of all possible scenarios in which they might need, want, or miss a particular object before letting it go, which sabotages their efforts to declutter. As Dr. David Tolin, a hoarding expert at the Hartford Hospital Institute of Living, explains: “If you have to go through a long and complicated decision-making process for each and every item before you get rid of it, you’ll never get free of the clutter. Most decisions are not that complicated. If you find that the decision takes you more than a couple of minutes for a particular object, you are probably making it too complicated.”
To keep your decision-making process brief and simple, stick to asking yourself these three questions before getting rid of something:
– “Do I literally need this item?”
– “How often have I used this item in the last year?”
– “Can I replace this item?”
If an item isn’t necessary and you’ve used it rarely (or not at all) over the last year, you should probably get rid of it. Only make exceptions for items that are truly irreplaceable, either because they’re very valuable or because they’re family heirlooms.
Use the “OHIO” rule.
Along with overthinking, the fear of regret often stops us from parting with items. For this reason, it’s important to use the “only handle it once” rule when you’re trying to cull your possessions: Pick each item up once, ask yourself the three questions above, and make your choice. Then, either put the item back in its place or box it up to donate (depending on what you decided) and leave it there. “If you find yourself handling things again and again, moving things from one pile to another, stop yourself,” says Dr. Tolin. “Refocus and move on.”
Consider hiring a professional cleaner.
Chronically messy homes and clutter go hand-in-hand. Cleaning a cluttered home is both frustrating and time-consuming, so just keeping up with basic tidying can feel like a real challenge in these environments. For this reason, hiring a professional cleaner is highly recommended if you have hoarding issues: A maid can help you get on top of the mess in your home, improve your indoor air quality, and give you useful tips for organizing and cutting down. By cleaning your home for you, a maid will also free up a lot of valuable time, letting you focus on decluttering.
The team of caring professionals at HappyCleans can help you regain control over your home – and your life. If you’re ready to enjoy the benefits of a cleaner and more minimalist home, use our online booking form to inquire about our services today and take a break for the day in a local park such as Fink Park.