Caregivers Need to Declutter

By Shawna Wasko, M.OLP PI/Nutrition Contracts Manager

The holidays were stressful for me. Shopping, delicious foods I needed to avoid, wrapping gifts, Caregiving for my parents, extra clutter EVERYWHERE in my house, etc. As I researched articles to share with my Caregiver Support Group and my Grandparents/Relatives as Parents Support Group I kept running across articles on decluttering our lives. Caregiving clutters up our already busy lives. Getting loved ones to doctor appointments, managing their medications, doing their laundry, worrying about them, bringing them meals, feeling guilty if we don’t have enough time to spend with them; it goes on and on.

I came across an article written by Dr. Donna Fergusion, Psychologist, who wrote an article for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in April of 2019 on, Spark Joy! How decluttering can help your mental health. I feel my physical and mental health has been slipping. I feel tired, I am overweight, and seem at times overwhelmed about all that is going on in life. My home is out of order, too many books, clothes, collectibles, papers, and STUFF. I can’t seem to get ahead of it.

Fergusion wrote that tidying up sparks joy and, “decluttering can also improve your mental health.” She also stated that “our environment can impact our mood. If our surrounding stress us out, we feel the impact. Reducing the clutter in our lives-be it physical, digital or otherwise allows
us to tackle stressors head-on and that benefits our mental health.”

Fergusion also explains that “Clutter can annoy us, distract us or take away much-needed energy. Clutter can be physical (items in the junk drawer), digital (unedited photos scattered across our mobile devices), or even emotional, such as beliefs that hold us back in life and make it difficult for us to function. Clutter can also cause feelings of stress, fatigue, and depression. Stress can contribute to poor sleep, poor eating habits and generally poor health.”

Fergusion suggests, “we begin with our bedrooms. She tells us that since decluttering reduces stress, you’ll naturally enjoy better sleep.” The bedroom, she feels, is the best place to start. This hit a nerve with me. I have yet to unpack my suitcase from my last trip to Oregon to see my daughter,
there is stuff all around me, I can barely fit in my closet because it is stuffed to the rim with shoes, clothes and a ton of stuff that does not belong there. The clothes irritate me the most. These items stare at me saying, “yes Shawna, you used to fit in these, you used to be thinner and firmer!”

I have a 16-year-old blind and deaf poodle named Elvis. He used to be able to navigate through my bedroom and stand by my bed so I could pick him up at bedtime. I noticed that he now stands at my door, afraid to enter because of the clutter. So I have started in the bedroom and in my office at work. I have to say I already feel better, but I still need you to pray for me and Elvis.

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