When it comes to possessions in the home, the focus is always on clutter and junk removal. Too much stuff is a problem both in terms of day-to-day living and mental health, but what if your problem is the opposite and you’re a compulsive declutterer?
Decluttering is generally good, but you can have too much of a good thing! When something crosses the line and becomes obsessive, whether exercise, dieting, or clearing out the cupboards, it’s a red flag that may not be well. Let’s get into compulsive decluttering, as well as identifying the signs and how to overcome this habit.
What Is Compulsive Decluttering?
Is Compulsive Decluttering the Opposite of Hoarding?
In simple terms, compulsive decluttering is the opposite of hoarding on a purely practical level.
The compulsive hoarder has a house full of things they can’t bear to part with. In contrast, the compulsive declutterer has a home that seems empty of extra items and totally devoid of personality.
All the talk is about hoarding issues – as many as 1 in 20 Americans have a problem with it.
There’s lots of online help for hoarders, like the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning and how that impacts mental health during a time of grief. Others focus on more strategic and basic plans to help family and friends clear a hoarder’s home of junk and clutter.
However, there’s less chat about compulsive decluttering. The mental issues behind compulsive hoarding and compulsive decluttering are actually different. Most importantly, obsessive decluttering is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Identifying the Signs: Is Your Decluttering Habit a Problem?
Do You Feel a Constant Urge to Purge?
Compulsive decluttering manifests differently from compulsive hoarding, which can be a more passive and insidious behavior: you just don’t throw your items out. In contrast, compulsive decluttering has a more active mindset.
Do you constantly feel the need to rationalize and get rid of things?
Even when your home is in excellent shape, and there’s no clutter, you may still be checking to ensure there isn’t anything overlooked that could be on its way to the thrift store or recycling depot. This is a sign of compulsive decluttering.
Another sign: is there anything left in your house? Unchecked, compulsive decluttering can quickly lead to a home without everything except the bare essentials. Forget minimalism; this is barren living.
Do you Declutter and Re-buy Items Because You Need Them?
Compulsive decluttering means you have already removed decorative and non-functional items and are now moving on to things you should be keeping.
If you’ve thrown out an essential item only to buy it days or weeks later, this is a sure sign that you need help. Also, if you look at an object and recognize you need it but still throw it away, you’re probably on the other side of the line.
Decluttering should be about clearing your house only to contain things you love and use. After completing this process, you would typically move to maintenance mode to stop clutter from returning. There is a natural hard stop.
Similar to losing weight, the target is a gradual diet plan to achieve a healthy weight for your age, gender, and height.
Continuing to shed pounds when you’ve achieved that target weight is not a healthy mindset and will ultimately be harmful both mentally and physically.
Do you Dislike Receiving Gifts?
Are gifts from family and friends welcome with open arms, or do they make you anxious or stressed?
Part of compulsive decluttering is not merely ridding your home of what’s already there but also not wanting to make room for new items, even those given by family and close friends.
If you feel concerned or stressed when a gift turns up, this can be a sign that you may have already developed a compulsive decluttering problem.
Do you Struggle to Relax at Home?
People who suffer from compulsive decluttering cannot rest in their own homes. They’ll constantly look and assess their immediate surroundings because there’s always some item that can be moved or purged from that space.
Compulsive decluttering can go hand in hand with obsessive cleaning.
How To Overcome Compulsive Decluttering
Recognize the Signs
It can be hard to recognize the obvious in ourselves or our surroundings. Perhaps a friend or family member has pointed out how spartan your home looks or asked where certain items have gone.
People might seem surprised that you’ve thrown out or gotten rid of items that may have sentimental or aesthetic value. You could be alerted to the problem by them, as you may not see your home as bare and empty at all.
Many people with compulsive decluttering are in denial or seek to justify their behavior when challenged. After all, a tidy home is a tidy mind. Think of all those extra items that have gone to the charity shop or recycling depot!
Compulsive declutterers will have every justification in the book, including that they’re merely decluttering like a minimalist!
Work on Your Mindset
It’s important to understand that not everything is clutter. We’re not designed to surround ourselves with utilitarian and wholly functional items.
Many functionless items bring joy and make life worth living. It could be a piece of pottery made by a child in school or a painting or family photograph. These items are our life’s narrative and make us who we are.
Mindfulness benefits everyone but is an especially useful tool for those with compulsive decluttering problems.
Mindfulness calms the nerves, reducing levels of anxiety that induce the wrong response to specific situations. It can teach sufferers how to control their emotions when under pressure.
Mindfulness teaches someone to be conscious and aware of their thoughts and actions. It can help people with compulsion problems to understand their trigger points and why they do what they do – the first step towards taking control.
Practicing gratitude allows you to reconnect with life and appreciate things around you again.
Practicing gratitude teaches people that items with no practical or functional purpose are valuable. The value could be a cherished memory, a special gift from a loved one, or a piece of junk that’s a reminder of a special event or occasion.
Understanding the value of these items, not just to you but to those around you, is the beginning of a process that moves towards keeping them rather than compulsively getting rid of them.
Refocus your Energy on Something Else
Compulsive declutterers, like compulsive cleaners, are often quite agitated and restless. There is a drive and energy behind the process, which may not go away quietly.
It can help to break the compulsive decluttering habit to direct your energies onto something else. It could be a new or old hobby, starting a new exercise routine, or doing some other practical task.
Choose something that isn’t necessarily home-focused, like decorating, as it may be too close to the danger area. The activity should be different, contrasting, and completely mentally absorbing, like painting or playing a musical instrument.
Redirect the energy that drives this obsessive behavior elsewhere.
Get Professional Help
One of the hardest things to do is to make changes to your mindset. Sometimes, getting professional help can break the cycle, especially if you don’t have a friend or family member to confide in.
It’s possible you feel embarrassed or ashamed and don’t want to admit your problem to your nearest loved ones. It can be easier to talk to a third party who is independent and objective – plus, they’re qualified to help.
Need Removal Services in the Bay Area, CA? We Can Help.
Compulsive decluttering can be a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and have far-reaching effects on your mental and physical health.
If you want to declutter your home or workspace, contact Nixxit. We offer professional and experienced eco-friendly junk removal for domestic property owners and commercial businesses in the Bay Area.
We’ll remove unwanted items unobtrusively and quickly and work through all areas of your home or commercial property, including attics, backyards, and garages. We’ll take bulky items, electronic waste, and stuff other people just don’t want.
Contact Nixxit now for the best junk removal and garbage clearance service across the Bay Area.
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