Friday, 1 March 2013

Clutter and wellbeing: owning up to the situation

I had a bit of an ah-ha moment last night, on something that for some reason makes me a bit ashamed. I realised that I feel better, like really, properly healthier better, when I am not surrounded by clutter.

Let me explain... This week has been one crazy week so far. Thankfully Friday is calmer. However, Thursday being month-end meant big deadlines at work for both Mr PTC and I. We've been doing loooong hours, on top of trying to pack up the house, have lengthy phone conversations with family who are ill (nothing serious, but enough that we wanted to catch up and let we know we were thinking of them). Fine. We can take this in our stride, especially because we have each other to lean on.

On Wednesday our one non-running-about-crazy item was to watch 'Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners'. Now we don't watch much TV, indeed I'm not quite sure why we watched this, but really it was quite fascinating. Mr PTC and I both saw some of the two extremes in ourselves. Certain things bring out a tiny bit of OCD in us, and other things we can stop looking at and allow the hoarding to take over.  I particularly liked the phrase of one lady who realised that her hoarding made her 'anxious', and yet she didn't do anything about it, except put a blanket over things. I watched the programme with a growing fascination on the interaction between the two extremes, but the lesson two days later is actually about clutter in my life.

Anyway, moving on from my obsession with watching different people interact (maybe I should have been a psychologist after all!), yesterday was crunch point. I had a phone call from my landlord asking to bring round someone to view the house this morning. I knew we had deadlines at work and I knew the house was in a state, but oh heck, we'll manage, so I said 'that's fine'. 9pm comes round and we are still at work, rapidly running out of steam. We finally got home at 10pm with chicken and chips (not the healthiest option, but there are only a few options that late at night) and we had to clean the house. Oh no.

Well we did clean. Not amazingly - how glad am I that I did a deep clean of the kitchen last weekend! It was more of a pick-up that went on for an hour. When we finally got into bed I mentioned to Mr PTC that although I was exhausted I actually felt really great. This wasn't just because we had both met our deadlines at work, because I felt better when we finished cleaning. I felt better because we had put everything away and the house smelt and looked clean.  Mr PTC quickly piped up 'well that's quite an admission'. I was initially upset. I know I am not a natural neat freak, but neither is he! The difference in our behaviour is that Mr PTC notices mess more, but ignores it - I don't notice it. However, I must be noticing it on some subconscious level because I felt so much better, despite the exhaustion after cleaning at midnight!

So there we are. I feel substantially better in a clean and un-cluttered house. Even to the point that when I am exhausted it is still worth doing a quick pick-up to improve my wellbeing. Mr PTC, despite being an openly lazy person (aww but I love him that way!), feels the same way. So we have promised ourselves to try to de-clutter and put-away more.

How does this fit in with Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners? Maybe the OCD cleaners have a point - you get ill and anxious if you live in a messy cluttered environment. Not to mention it makes cleaning a lot harder. I think being OCD just means it is more extreme, but like most 'disorders', it is a sliding spectrum and most people sit in the middle somewhere (that is a personal theory on many mental health issues - not a clinically understood theory you should note!).

Some funny cartoons on

So the PTC household has agreed to 'attempting' to more regular de-clutters, put-aways and pick-ups. We are aware that with less than 5 weeks until move day life is likely to get more cluttered as we pack up, but in the new house we are hoping to start some new routines and pick ups are going to be one of them. We will finally start giving everything a proper home so we know where things should go, and if I get my way less stuff will be out and on surfaces to make cleaning easier. Maybe we will be making a move towards minimalism - hah I don't think so, we have way to much 'stuff' we can't part with.

Righto, random Friday musings are now over. Normal service can resume.

Happy weekend to you all!

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Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

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