Anxiety Help: Use Your Surroundings

Here we provide anxiety help by covering why you should consider simplifying and organizing your surroundings in life and what you can do about to achieve this positive result.

In this episode, I would like to provide anxiety help by covering why you should consider simplifying and organizing your surroundings in life. Then I will provide suggestions on how you can become relaxed and in the process achieve your goals and become focused in life on what really matters.
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I want you to try either imagining or recalling a situation when you are on a roll, so to speak.  In other words, when things are flowing or going well in your life.  You are setting goals and achieving them.  Motivated.  Staying focused.  You are not anxious.  All of this can be possible.

There are many ways that we can facilitate such a process.  One very effective way is to remove the barriers that are holding you back in life. I want to talk about some practical ways for doing so that involve your environment.

In this episode, I would like to discuss why you should consider simplifying and organizing your surroundings in life.  Then I will provide suggestions on how you can become relaxed and in the process achieve your goals and become focused in life on what really matters.

To evolve this discussion further, I want to talk about clutter.  Yes I am talking about clutter.

Perhaps you have a number of things stacked up in your home or work space and you have been meaning to do something about all of this.

This is a problem that many people suffer but for anxious folks and others, this can really affect the quality of life.  It can be very serious.  That’s why it probably doesn’t likely come as a surprise to anyone in a era of reality television that there are television series on hoarding.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, hoarding is the persistent difficulty of discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. The behavior usually has deleterious effects—emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal—for a hoarder and family members.

For those who hoard, the quantity of their collected items sets them apart from other people. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.

The signs of hoarding would include:

  • Inability to throw away possessions
  • Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
  • Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
  • Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
  • Suspicion of other people touching items
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
  • Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards

People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future. Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away.

They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won’t remember an important person or event. Or because they can’t decide where something belongs, it’s better just to keep it.

Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder.

It is important to be very clear that hoarding is not the same as collecting. In general, collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions and they experience joy in displaying and talking about them. They usually keep their collection organized, feel satisfaction when adding to it, and budget their time and money.

Those who hoard usually experience embarrassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. They have clutter, often at the expense of livable space, feel sad or ashamed after acquiring additional items, and they are often in debt.

I want to discuss a study Featured in PubMed web database: Hoarding and emotional reactivity: The link between negative emotional reactions and hoarding symptomatology.

This study found that there was a link with increased emotional reactions and the amount of hoarding.  In other words, when people became emotional, they hoarded more things.

However, one does not have to have a problem with hoarding in order to still have too much clutter and disorganization in one’s life.  I would suggest that clutter can be a problem, but disorganization can be a similar problem, especially when we have too much stuff and no place to put it.

It is not unreasonable to think that living in a nice environment (an organized and decluttered home or workspace) could be helpful, at least supportive, in decreasing our anxiety.

For someone suffering from anxiety, an environment that is stress free and integrates these suggestions might be quite helpful for recovery.

While you may have limited control over all environments in your life, your home can be enhanced. It doesn’t matter whether your home is modest or large, whether you own your home, rent an apartment – whatever – you can make it comfortable.

So, one suggestion is to take some time to clean up clutter:

  • Throw out or donate old things when they are replaced with something new
  • Periodically visit your home and decide what things you really value. If you don’t value them consider throwing them out or donating them
  • Take some time each day just to straighten or clean up. You don’t have to take very long.  However, doing so, will make the process much more manageable when done over time as opposed to saving up items and having to tackle the process like a major project that takes a long time to complete and you may dread.
  • If you want more tips, you can even do an internet search on decluttering and organizing.
  • There are also various TED Talks on Minimalism that you might find helpful and interesting.

There is some additional credible information, that I want to discuss, that further supports the common-sense notion that living in a nice environment could be helpful, at least supportive, in decreasing our anxiety.

In this regard, I found a very helpful thesis: Understanding Healing Environments: Effects Of Physical Environmental Stimuli On Patients’ Health And Well-Being by Karin Dijkstra through the University of Twente Utpublications, in the Netherlands.

While Karin looked at the issue in the context of institutional healthcare environments, it was noteworthy that stress reducing effects were found when indoor plants, classical music, and wall colours were integrated into the environment.

The author suggested that these findings add to the body of evidence that the physical healthcare environment can make a difference in how quickly patients recover or adapt to specific acute and chronic conditions.

I don’t think that this idea only extends to healthcare environments, especially when we consider the earlier information about hoarding and clutter and organization.

In addition to decluttering and organizing your home better, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. provides some suggestions on his website.

For instance:

Bring things from the outside into your home, like green plants, cut flowers and blooming bulbs, or pieces of wood, rocks. The idea being that they can create a feeling of nature indoors.

Choose paint colours for your walls that make you feel relaxed. It has been suggested that blue and green promote a relaxed feeling and may be good choices for the bedroom, while warm colours (maroon, coral, burgundy) suggest a cozy environment and may be inviting in a family room. I think it is critical that you choose what colours are relaxing in the various settings of your home.

You might also include beautiful things in your home such as artwork, fragrance, smooth textures and calming sounds all provide a pleasant environment in which to relax.

Have a room in your home that can be a dedicated place of calm and relaxation. A place for reflection and meditation can provide shelter from noise and distraction.

As previously mentioned, keep things neat and tidy and organized. A low-maintenance home is refreshing after a day of hectic meetings, errands and chores. Fewer items can mean less frustration.

You could also display handmade or meaningful gifts from loved ones and photos of family and friends throughout your home.

In closing, I think that the various suggestions provided in this podcast episode for simplifying and organizing one’s surroundings in life can be very supportive for anxiety sufferers.

These recommendations can provide an environment which facilitates relaxation, where you can better achieve your goals by being able to focus on what really matters in your life.

To get instant access to the five steps to recovery from anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia, please visit our website, and simply provide your email address.  All of information is absolutely free.

References

Retrieved November 25, 2017 from the American Depression and Anxiety Association of America. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/hoarding-basics

Dijkstra, K. (2009). Understanding Healing Environments: Effects Of Physical Environmental Stimuli On Patients ’ Health And Well-Being. University of Twente Utpublications. Retrieved from: http://doc.utwente.nl/60753/

Retrieved November 25, 2017 from the PubMed.gov. website:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25732668/

Weil, A. Creating a Sanctuary. Retrieved May 28, 2015 from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00577/Creating-a-Sanctuary.html
http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/panic-disorder.aspx