I’m Such A Hoarder!

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As professional organizers we hear this a lot from our clients and people who know what we do for a living. The word “hoarder” can get thrown around too often and too lightly. It’s usually not the correct label for most people struggling with disorganization. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’d like to share some insight into disorganization disorders with you.

I bet you’re wondering which label is right for you?

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Situational Disorganization
Most organizing clients fall into this category due to a recent “situation” that is causing disorganization in their life. This type of disorganization usually causes low levels of stress for the individual, but they feel enough distress to ask for help. Any of these experiences (and many more) can cause situational disorganization:

  • getting married

  • moving

  • starting a family

  • getting divorced

  • retirement

  • death of a loved one

  • loss of a job

We often hear clients say: “I recently had a baby,” “we just moved into this house,” or “we’re trying to downsize for retirement,” followed by “please help me get organized!”

Chronic Disorganization
People who fall into this category are consistently having an issue with disorganization in their life. Maybe it started as situational, but it wasn’t addressed properly, or at all, and now it’s turned into a chronic issue. This type of disorganization can cause higher levels of stress for the individual and it’s usually been going on for a longer period of time.

People who are classified as hoarders can suffer from extremely high levels of stress in all areas of their life. Some people have specific beliefs about their stuff that cause impairments and makes it harder for them to let things go and stay organized. The Institute for Challenging Disorganization uses this scale to explain and identify the various levels of this disorder. Not everyone with hoarding disorder feels the same way or reacts the same regarding their stuff.

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The difference stems back to the emotion behind it and the beliefs people have about their stuff: “If I get rid of this I’ll be a bad person,” “If I get rid of this, I’ll be losing a part of my identity.” Collectors have connections with their stuff too, but it wouldn’t feel like the world was ending or that they were losing a piece of themselves if they let go of their possessions. Another way to differentiate the two is to recognize how it affects your daily life. Does it stop you from dating, working, or inviting people into your home? Then it might be a hoarding disorder.

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Dementia, depression, fibromyalgia and arthritis can sometimes make someone seem like they have hoarding disorder. Maybe they bought 5 cans of the same soup because they forgot they had them at home, not because of a connection to that soup but because they’re losing their memory. Maybe they can’t pick things up off the floor easily due to pain, so they leave it there and a few items turns into a huge pile over many years. If someone’s physical abilities are impaired and they can’t help themselves, it can get out of control very quickly.

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1. Exercise
Getting regular physical activity is clinically proven to improve your mindset. Spending at least one hour each day, 5 days a week, can make an enormous difference in your physical and mental well-being.

2. Mindfulness
Breathing techniques have been shown to help people stay calm and focused. Practicing these techniques on a regular basis can help build a habit so you can remember to use them when you’re in a stressful situation.

3. Humor
Making light of situations, dancing and laughing out loud have all been shown to help reduce anxiety levels. Try to remember to take it easy and enjoy each moment.

A psychologist and a professional organizer are the perfect combo to help you learn the mental and physical tools you need to begin taking action to reverse the disorganization that you’ve been struggling with in your life. Give the amazing people at Commonwealth Psychology Associates a call to set up a complimentary phone consultation.


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