Two weeks ago, I was feeling quite overwhelmed with anxiety as I realized that my work schedule for the weeks ahead was significantly quieter than usual.  Being self-employed, some of my anxiety was about the financial implications of this pending “quiet time”, but it was also about how I was going to spend my time without the normal work activities.  It was not a totally unfamiliar feeling as I have had quiet periods before on a few occasions in the past 25 years.  However, instead of allowing the anxiety to immobilize me like previously, I decided to do something different this time.  Let me explain.

In the past when I have had quiet times in my business, I have been rather prone to inactivity and my behaviour has tended to be counter-productive.  While my self-discipline would always motivate me to get up, get dressed and go to my office, my time would not always be well spent.  For example, obsessive checking of my e-mail feed, negative, even catastrophic thinking, withdrawal from those around me, and aimless surfing around the internet could fill the rather bleak days.  “Why don’t you go shopping or meet some friends for coffee” people would say, but the anxiety and deeply ingrained work ethic would just not allow such decadent outings on school days.

This time I made a decision to take the gap and do a long overdue decluttering and tidying of my property and home.  Well, what a difference this made on so many fronts!  Not that I am a hoarder, but I have just neglected things over recent years and in the process, lost my sense of house-proudness as it once was.

So I started with the garden and with help from my gardener, we felled several overgrown trees.  The additional amount of sky that I can now see is unbelievable – it was as if the trees were falling in on me and darkening my life.  Now I have so much more light both literally and figuratively…I even think the birds are enjoying the transformation.

Then I moved to the garage, which on my property is not a storage place for cars, but for just about everything else you can imagine!  I emptied it, cleaned it, made a few trips to the dump, and discovered the value of FB Marketplace as there were in fact a few forgotten items that would prove to be of value to someone else.  I love a bit of woodwork so I revamped some sagging shelves, made a hanging board for my tools, and fixed up some chairs and stools (in preparation for FB Marketplace).

Then on to the shed, a second storage place for just about everything you can imagine that didn’t fit into the garage.  Again, I emptied it, cleaned it, …you get the picture.

Then to the kitchen, which is almost done and how much more space I have created.  The rest of the house will follow and I can’t wait to see what I find!

So what have the benefits been to my mental health?  Well, there have been several:

  1. I have been busy for a week and half now with hardly a moment to spare. This has left very little time for negative thinking, surfing the internet or obsessively checking my e-mail feed.  Not to say I haven’t checked my e-mails at all, but this has been just a few times a day so as not to miss anything important.
  2. I am feeling so refreshed, relieved and to be honest, quite proud.
  3. Anxiety has been almost non-existent.
  4. I have rediscovered some of my inherent creativity.
  5. I know where things are that I would previously not even have thought of looking for in all the clutter.
  6. And to boot, I have made some money from things that I would have previously considered to be of no value, and that would have been likely to end up in the back of my car on one of the trips to the dump. This is not life changing money, but it will allow me to treat myself to some spa sessions, some new clothes, or something else that my heart desires that I would not normally consider worthy of the spend.

I think that our environment can have a significant effect on our mood and therefore also on our behaviour.  I can’t tell you the difference that this decluttering has already made to my mood and I am still very far from finished.  I have realised that I can get a great deal of satisfaction and sense of achievement from activity outside of my work, which is something I think I forgot several years ago.  I can honestly say that I am now grateful for the quiet time that my work schedule gave me. 

As my diary starts to fill up again, I have made a promise to myself not to let work overshadow everything else, including the state of my home and property, and to retain my current sense of pride in my surroundings.  This I know will be good for my mental health although the problem of how to spend my days next time my diary goes quiet will present a new challenge.  I wonder if there’s a market out there for a decluttering service provider?!

Take care everyone.

Your Partner in Mental Health Matters @ Work



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