Less is more: 7 Steps to help serious hoarders declutter

We all hold onto some things a little longer than we should.

Whether it’s a ticket to a concert, a shelf of finished books or our high school uniform.

While some memorabilia have their place, other stuff with zero meaning or value simply should be parted with.

And while some of us are just overdue for a spring clean, others are considered hoarders.

Hoarding is a serious condition and it can bring emotional, financial, social and physical stress.

A hoarder is classified as someone who avoids throwing away items that have zero value to them and continue to increase the problem by adding excess stuff to their pile of clutter. They can experience anxiety if they are faced with the task of decluttering.

Hoarders tend to use their homes as storage, and the further it goes, the more their condition negatively impacts their living environment, health, safety, and hygiene.

Just like most conditions, help is available. It’s important to address the issue by first acknowledging there is a problem.

So, if you are helping a loved one or yourself overcome hoarding, here is a great place to start.

Read on for 7 decluttering tips for hoarders to clean and organise their home and lifestyle.

Step 1: Talk to Someone About It

If your friends and family are showing concern over the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated in your home, address the problem and speak up.

Talk to a loved one about the issue and listen to their concerns.

Serious hoarders can experience anxiety over throwing possessions away, so it’s vital to put your mental health first by getting as much support as possible from the people around you.

Express your concerns about throwing things away. Talk about how your clutter is affecting your lifestyle, health, hygiene, and safety. Discuss why you might be feeling anxious about decluttering, and brainstorm ideas as to how you can learn to let things go.

Step 2: Set Goals

Now you have acknowledged the problem and have support behind you, it’s time to set goals.

Small, achievable goals are less daunting than setting unrealistic benchmarks.

Start with a room or area of the house. If you choose the kitchen to be your first goal, separate the list of things-to-do into small categories.

For example; go through and toss food items passed their used-by-date, group together odd cutlery and kitchenware to donate to a charity shop and collect old containers and jars that are not in use to recycle.  

As you start to tick off small achievements, you’ll feel a positivity of refreshment and accomplishment. The more jobs you tick off the list, the easier it will become.

Step 3: Set Aside a Keepsake Box

Everyone has items they simply cannot part with. Whether it’s your child’s first shoes, your grandmas’ jewellery or your wedding dress.

Some things may never be used again, however, they do still hold value.

Be sure to set rules as to what is considered a valuable. For example; is it passed down from a family member? Does it resemble a significant day in your life?

Treasure your family heirlooms by setting them aside in a box. You might only look at them a handful of times, but it’s nice to know they’re always with you.

Step 4: Determine A Waste Removal Plan

The feeling of parting with possessions can be dreadful for hoarders.

Be sure to determine a feel-good waste removal plan to ensure the discarding process is less horrifying.  

Set aside three waste bins: donate, recycle or rubbish bin.

The rewarding feeling of donating items to a charity shop can outweigh the unease of departing with possessions.

By recycling, you’re helping the environment and as for the rubbish, some things just have no other purpose.

Step 5: Reward Yourself

After a big purge, be sure to lift your spirits and reward yourself.

Book a massage, bake your favourite treat or go out for dinner with a friend.

Be kind to yourself and hit the refresh button, because the better you feel, the more determined you’ll be to continue working towards your goals.   

Step 6: Organise

Once you’ve tossed the excess stuff you no longer need or use, it’s time to organise.

Creating homes for your stuff is the easiest and cleanest way to know where everything is. It also allows you to use up what you’ve got rather than forgetting it’s there and buying new stuff.

Some helpful ways to organise is by planning out what each room should contain.

Once you’ve determined the purpose of each room, start by grouping its contents. Place the groups of goodies together in cupboards, shelves or boxes.

Step 7: Enjoy It

You are now living clutter-free – go you!

Less stuff equals less stress, so embrace the new lifestyle and remind yourself daily to live simply.

You’ll feel refreshed, happier and healthier.  

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