Mess & Anxiety-how to make them work for you

Does just thinking about clutter create a rise in your temperature?  Do you start to feel anxious & buzzy when you talk about the mountain of papers that you need to tackle or the overwhelming shoe pile in the mudroom?

I hear you. 

Yesterday, I put myself through a pretty big closet purge. 

It wasn’t the first time I had gone through and culled my closet, but this time I created a more concrete intention.  I have been interested in Courtney Carver’s Project 333 and was guided by a desire to honor the idea that less is more & that what I choose to wear really reflects “me.”

So, after a good lunch, I grabbed a cup of tea, put on some music & pulled out everything that I use to clothe myself and laid it on the bed.


A big mess can kick in anxiety!

This act alone was scary!  As the pile on the bed grew, I started to doubt my own ability & strength to finish the project and really pare down.  How would this mess ever become organized again & how long was this really going to take? 

I support people through this process all the time, but I was feeling the panic that starts to rise when you feel like the mess might overtake you.  I had to stop & reassure myself that I had a plan & that I wanted this change.  I gathered my buckets, bags, and boxes, and started to dig in.

It took a good three hours, and I still have a couple of loose ends, but the closet was wiped out, the clothes folded, hung, and contained in the closet or dresser by the time I finished.  I had bags for recycling, bags to donate, some trash, and lots of extra hangers!  It felt good in the end.

And through the process, I was reminded of how anxious you can get when you make a big mess.  It can feel vulnerable & uncertain.  It can feel daunting and chaotic.  It can feel scary. 

I have talked to so many people who start to feel anxious just talking about the mess; the mess that is their clutter, the mess that they will be in as they gather it all together, and the mess that they believe is involved with sorting and getting to the other side of it.   It is appropriate for the body to have a response when faced with the words mess, letting go, and change, but it doesn’t feel normal for the person who is feeling it- it feels frightening & lonely.

Reframe it

Reframing that anxious feeling you get when you think about clutter into the feeling of excitement is one way to make a step forward.

So what can we do with that anxiety?  One thing is to try to reframe it as excitement.  Tell yourself your body is triggered because change is waiting for you.  Listen to that buzzing, rising feeling and then tell yourself that it is a signal that you are ready.  We can use that amped up energy to move you toward the lifestyle that you are aching for. 

It will take some practice to shift from wanting to calm or avoid these anxious feelings to instead reframe and use them.  But you can do it.  You are led by the desire to create the spaces that honor the lifestyle you truly want. 

You are ready for a change and the mess will be short-lived as you make a huge leap into a new way of being.  Turn the anxiety into excitement and know that with each step forward you are surrounding yourself with the things that allow you to shine!


Does this sound familiar?  Is that anxious feeling keeping you from making any progress?  I want to hear if you have ever tried to reframe your thoughts to get your feelings in line?


If you would like more information on how to reframe anxiety into excitement, check out these articles.

Feeling Anxious? Why Trying To “Keep Calm” Is A Terrible Idea

Feeling Anxious? Tell Yourself to Be Excited—It’s the Best Way to Calm Down

 And if you would like to continue this conversation or want more information on where and how to start your decluttering project, sign up for my free 30 min. consultation done in your space or on the phone!  I’d love to support your journey!