Organizing our space can be hard work. It’s mentally taxing to make decisions around whether or not to keep something, what it’s broader category is, where it should live, and if it’s continuing to function the way you’d like it to in your space. That’s four decisions minimum around each item, and we know that we’re all battling decision fatigue like the annoying monster that it is in our lives. The flip side? We know that our environment directly impacts our mental health—and that the pandemic affected nearly everyone’s mental health in a negative way. You might be thinking, “Well Taylor, you’re really chipper today.” And I get it. It’s difficult to look at your home, know how hard life has been, and go down the spiral. So in today’s episode, I’ll offer three wildly gentle ways that we can care for our mental health through organizing spaces in our home.
Struggle #1: Loneliness
Isolation? Not really great for anyone. And it becomes an increasing struggle as we get older and away from the structures of school and out of the office.
Organizing Solution for Loneliness:
I know it seems like you can’t organize your way out of loneliness, but I do want to point out that some people are more prone to reaching out to others consistently than others. I’m not ashamed to admit that when a friend tells me they have something going on—like a nerve wracking doctor’s appointment or a potentially dicey family event—I note it in my calendar to call or text them after that event. Keeping record of what other people are going through doesn’t make you a bad friend—it means that you’re the kind of person who will check in on people, which is huge. So, my organizing solution is to determine now what your system for reminding yourself to reach out to people you care for is—maybe you want reminders to pop up on your phone every week to call your mom, because even with your great intentions, sometimes life gets crazy. Maybe you create a calendar in Google for noting birthdays, anniversaries and grief events for people to whom you would like to send a card (I do this, buy those cards at the beginning of each quarter, and slap a sticky note on them with the name, date, and address of the person it’s going to). Whatever it is, create an organized system for remembering to be the one to reach out.
Struggle #2: Fear of Illness
I remember hearing a podcast episode years before the pandemic where the host mentioned that she was terrified of being sick. I was shocked by this because illness has never been a major issue in my life. Yes, I completely acknowledge the privilege in what I just said. Now that I’ve learned deeply about how at-risk populations have to maneuver times of high infection I’m just, blown away. The way we’ve handled it in our home? Prep.
Organizing Solution for Fear of Illness:
Think of all the comforts you need to have to be prepared in the event of illness—especially if you’re the one in your home who does all of the caretaking, all of the time. Create a first aid kit with things you know that comfort and heal your body and your family’s body. If you need to stash some canned soup away, do that. I always used to forget to buy facial tissues and that whooped me this past fall when my allergies knocked me down—so now we always have a backstock, sick or not. Finding storage for sick-person stuff and acknowledging its inevitability can help make healing easier and less stressful.
Struggle #3: Lack of Joy Our Homes
How many of us signed up for new streaming subscriptions over the past two years? Are you raising your hand, too? That’s what I thought. It was literally the safe choice, and I’m not shaming anyone here. We watch TV together most nights. But I did hit a point where I realized it wasn’t bringing me joy. And then I realized nothing was bringing me joy. And then, oh, hello depressive episode it’s so nice to see you again. You get the picture. When we don’t make room for joy in our home through creating physical systems for it, we’re essentially de-prioritizing joyful participation in life. We might not have needed it in our home prior to the pandemic, because perhaps our joyful activities were out in the world—you know, one of the myriad of things that was actually banned. So this is something many of us have had to consciously re-work into our lives in unexpected ways.
Organizing Solution for Lack of Joy in Our Homes:
The first thing to do is name what brings you joy. This can be really difficult if you haven’t felt actual joy in a while, so my general tip is to think about what you really loved to do as a child. Make a list of three to five things and pick one to try again as an adult. I loved creating art, but got rid of most of my art-making supplies during one of my fourteen moves in my adult life. My solution wasn’t to buy more things—in this case, I realized I just needed the ability to create something visual and two-dimensional. Enter—the iPad. I now have a space on the coffee table in our living room where I can store my iPad and Apple pencil upright so that if I’m feeling less than joyful about watching something on TV, I can doodle! It’s a joyful creative outlet and I love creating designs inspired by things I love. So think of what brings you joy and what you need to store and use in your home to reap joy from it as easily and frequently as possible. For a lot of my friends, that’s baking. So take a few minutes to store your baking sheets upright! Create a cabinet or shelf just for the ingredients you use to bake. Launder your aprons and fold them KonMari style. Care for the things that bring you joy.
Friends, I am not a mental health professional, but I’ve seen a few of them in my life and I hope that the tools that they’ve given me can help you in your home in this weird transition from lockdown to somewhat-normal life. Let me know how organizing for your mental health goes by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Organized YOU! host Taylor Vogel is the Owner &
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