concentrated woman carrying stack of cardboard boxes for relocation

Secret Stress of Stuff: Is “Less” The Answer To Stop Anxiety?

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in stuff?

A friend once said something to me to the effect… ‘When you have a big house, you fill it with stuff then you have to take care of that stuff. That takes time, effort and money.’

That statement sort of threw me off. I didn’t think much of it at the time, except I didn’t really understand. I guess it stuck in my head because it made so much sense to me later in my life.

Several years ago, I sold the house I had been in for 10 years. I had, indeed, accumulated a lot of stuff. As I went through my things to decide what I wanted to take with me when I moved, I questioned many of my buying decisions. I’d pick up an item I hadn’t used in years and asked myself, “Why did I even buy this?”

I thought of what my friend had said years before. Yes, it was draining to take care of all that stuff… that I wasn’t even using. In some cases, I didn’t even remember I had it.

I had at least three garage sales, sold bigger things online and donated the excess. I still took quite a bit with me. I went from a 2-bedroom house with a loft, 2 1/2 bathrooms (which was totally unnecessary) and a 1 1/2 car garage (that was weird)… to a 2 bedroom condo with a 2 car garage. Still plenty of space.

When I think about it though, what a wasteful thing to spend time and energy on. It took a few months to get rid of all that stuff. Then consider the energy and money I put into getting it in the first place.

A few years later, I downsized again and got rid of even more stuff. I had this goal in mind to live in an RV and travel at some point. This time I made it easier on myself and donated what I wasn’t able to sell online. I still had some excess, unnecessary stuff. I just wasn’t ready to part with it for one reason or another.

Recently, my vision of living in an RV came to fruition. My guy had an opportunity to work out of town for a few months, so we decided to go together in a travel trailer and continue to live in it after he was done… to see if we like it.

Of course, I got rid of even more stuff. This time, even though there was much less to go through, I started to feel “sick of stuff”. Honestly, there is still at least a little more I could eliminate. My goal now is to have ONLY what is truly necessary. I want every item I own to be something I absolutely love and use.

Stuff is stressful. It costs money to buy it and often, in our disposable society, it’s garbage that doesn’t last. It takes energy to find a space for it and to maintain it… and if you move, to move it around.

In the travel trailer, space is minimal. Although ours does have a good deal of storage. This is forcing me to truly determine if I want something enough to bother with it.

For the past several years, I have been extremely conscious (usually) of what I buy… remembering how I questions my buying decisions in the past. That is a great habit to keep things to a minimum.

Consumerism is pushed by societal norms. Actually it’s pushed by marketers wanting us to buy their stuff, then buy more stuff, then buy more stuff. We’ve been fooled that we need stuff for the sake of their bottom line. They tell us we need the latest, greatest… decor, desk, lamp, clothes (Oh! The Clothes!!!)

They want us to believe we simply can not live without what they are offering us. We need to look better than the neighbor. We need to have it first. Buy, buy, buy.

So you have to work, work, work.

Hey, guess what… We don’t need it.

It’s exhausting and puts us in a vicious cycle.

Too much stuff has a negative effect on our physiology.

There are actual scientific studies that show clutter causes stress… Which means it hurts our bodies.

Clutter is always in your face, so it is a constant reminder of stuff to be done… It’s like a physical to-do list. It creates excessive stimuli, visual, making us use our senses needlessly. Hence, stress. Of course, that’s a simplified version of it.

You don’t need a study to tell you that you feel stressed when you are stuck in piles of clutter though, right? You get the idea.

So what is the solution?

Well, less stuff, of course.

Less clutter, less excessive stimulation, less to take care of, save lots of money.

Make sure every item you own has purpose & brings joy.

Purchase consciously. Before you buy, ask yourself some questions to determine if it is truly needed.

Questions to Ask Before Buying To Avoid Clutter (And Stuff Stress)

  • 1 – Do I really need this?
  • 2 – Will I actually use it?
  • 3 – Do I already own something that will do the same job?
  • 4 – Do I love it and Will I keep loving it?

Just stopping to ask yourself ONE question gives you a chance to stop an impulse buy.

Questions To Ask When De-Cluttering:

  • 1 – Do I use this? (Not: WILL I use this?)
  • 2 – Do I have something else that will do the same job?
  • 3 – Do I love this?

4 Methods To De-Clutter

  • 1 – The 10 Minute De-Clutter: Set a timer for 10 minutes and start clearing excess stuff. This is a great way to do a surface de-clutter and get rid of things you can make a quick decision about. It’s fast and easy.
  • 2 – Pick one space to focus on is a brief amount of time: De-clutter ONE drawer or ONE shelf or ONE corner of a room. This method lets you move through your space gradually so you aren’t overwhelmed.
  • 3 – Room at a time: Set aside a weekend to de-clutter a whole room. Take everything out of the room, sort it and only put back what you truly want to keep (even if undecided stuff ends up in another room). Recruiting help with this one is a great idea!
  • 4 – Go All-In: Set aside several days (or more) to de-clutter your entire space. This is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I don’t recommend doing it… unless you have serious help and are really ready to let go of a lot, fast.

Stuff does take time, effort and money… When we have too much stuff or not enough time, energy or money we humans tend to feel stress and anxiety. It doesn’t have to be that way though. If clutter is causing some of the stress or anxiety you are feeling, you can change that, with a simple plan.


What are 1-3 things you will do to lessen clutter so you can stress less? What was your biggest take-away from this post?


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