I don’t know who coined the phrase Life Laundry, but they were a genius. That’s what it feels like when you take a day to straighten out your entire life. You know what I’m talking about; it’s the art of the 'Declutter.' Oh how good it feels to sort through a book shelf, a wardrobe, a drawer. Or for me – the kitchen counter. Why do things always pile up on my kitchen counter? I do the dishes, I wipe down the counter and it doesn’t feel clean. Not until I sort it out.
When I get depressed, when the anxiety takes hold, the last thing in the world I want to do is de-junk my life. I just let things go. Piles hang around so long that they get dusty. So when I am feeling a little better, when I have a glimpse of light; I always use that energy to clean a corner or two.
There are, of course, techniques for this. This is more than a casual putting away. This is Life Laundry. Don’t wait for spring to clean.
My favourite tip is the SIX-MONTH RULE. If you haven’t used, worn or read something in the last six months it’s time for it to find its way to the garbage or the recycle bin. It always feels good to PAY IT FORWARD. Pop into your local charity shop and see if they can make use of your preloved items or pass it on to a friend.
Another idea that I like is this: as you sort and you pick up an item if you do not feel an immediate connection to it - get rid of it. Be ruthless. You will feel so much better afterward. You will feel cleansed.
I have the most success when I start small. I often don’t take on a project because it is too big. I get overwhelmed. That’s a lot of how my anxiety manifests – I feel overwhelmed. My flight or fight kicks in and I go for flight and I avoid. But if I start small I have some hope of success.
This weekend I got up early. I had time to spare. How I love to get up early. And I tackled THAT cupboard. You know the one; the one that has the blender in it, the one that has the toaster in it; the one that over flows with rarely used kitchen gadgets, the one where I can never find anything, where I have to force things in so the door will close. “Well,” she said self-righteously, “I tackled it this weekend”. And I won. It is now a lovely cupboard, clean, organized, slim line. I take out the toaster – just because I can. I feel like a new person. All I can say is Hallelujah. And it only took an hour.
I, of course, question, why didn’t I do it sooner? But like so many things I have to wait until I feel strong enough. Depression and Anxiety deplete me of strength and it is just easier to give up. But I have recorded in my journal how good I felt doing that cupboard. In future, I will read back over this passage and I will be reminded that cleaning and sorting my ‘life’s laundry’ makes me feel strong.
So there’s what works for me – start small and be ruthless. Get the Hallelujah feeling.
Have a great day. In Recovery, Me.
About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company www.humourus.co.uk. She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health www.steppingstonetheatre.co.uk with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.