When the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders first began in early 2020, my home also became an office, a school, a gym, and a movie theater overnight. And my family and I went from spending just a few waking hours a day at home to spending every waking hour at home.
Along with the transition of space definitions, more responsibilities were immediately piled onto my plate. Educating and entertaining a 5-year-old, home-cooking every meal, and finding creative ways to juggle it all became part of my résumé. On paper, I was doing it all. My daughter was learning, my business was thriving, and my husband was happy. But something always has to give, and what gave in this situation was my own happiness. I was starting to feel anxious and showing signs of depression.
I learned quickly that I was not alone in feeling this way. In fact, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Affective Disorders that evaluated 66 studies, researchers found that over 30 percent of people have experienced depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Link Between Environment and Mental Health
Since I was wearing so many hats already, cleaning and organizing my home went to the wayside. Figuring that it was no big deal to have piles of items on the kitchen counter and on the dining room table when we weren't accepting guests due to safety precautions, my home got pretty out of control. And it was something I could live with . . . until I couldn't. As my disorganization grew, I found that my anxiety grew as well. The clutter was not conducive to a peaceful environment, and it became stressful seeing stuff everywhere.
Turns out, there is an actual link between environment, clutter, and mental health. Too much clutter can create chaotic and disorganized living spaces and can have a negative impact on a person's well-being, according to an article published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. And having a cluttered and unfinished home has literally been linked to more stress – highlighted by trends in cortisol levels in the body that were measured in a cluttered environment versus an organized environment.
How I Changed My Environment to Support My Mental Health
After learning that having an orderly home isn't just a vanity goal, I was ready to take control of my clutter. But as much as I wanted to Marie Kondo my home, my free time was already so limited. And things had gotten so bad that I didn't even know where to begin. So, I called in a professional.
Out of desperation, I reached out to a local professional organizer. When I saw that the business's name was Once Upon a Clutter, I immediately felt a sense of calm thinking of a cleaning fairy godmother entering my home and making it feel clean and welcoming.
And Keri Scott, the magical organizer, turned out to be so much more than an organizer. She analyzed my day-to-day routine, my priorities, and my challenges. Yes, she helped me declutter and put things away, but she also helped me organize the flow of my day to make things run more efficiently, and thus, help me maintain the organization.
Keri shared that by helping me get control of my home, I will also get more control of my life. She added that having an organized and decluttered home can instantly change the energy of a room. Having a clean and tidy environment can add a sense of calm, peace, and control that messes can't hold a candle to.
She and I decluttered, purged, and organized my entire home. We reworked some spaces that need to function differently now that my entire family is home more often. And we found a "home" for miscellaneous items that were simply scattered about.
No, my food is not color-coded and my child's Legos are not sorted by size, but things are put away and I only have essentials in sight. Everything else is in its place.
How Hiring a Home Organizer Changed My Mood
Hiring a home organizer was certainly an investment – both financially and timewise. But the outcome of the experience was worth so much more than the dollars and minutes I spent changing my environment.
Instead of staring at piles of stuffed animals and towels, I see clean countertops and an organized pantry. And instead of entering a room and immediately feeling my shoulders tense, I feel a sense of calm.
I now enjoy the space in my home. It's a peaceful haven that allows me to create, have fun, and live. Hiring a home organizer was one of the best things I could have done for myself during the COVID pandemic. My house is so much more than a home now, and since I am spending 24/7 staring at the same walls, having an environment that is not overstimulating and is orderly is just what I needed to help me feel so much better.