Doing The KonMari Method With Anxiety

While I don’t usually follow the KonMari method to a T, I am absolutely in love with its mission: sparking joy. Every little thing you see, feel, and use in your home giving that little bit of happy energy to your day is such a beautiful concept, and it’s one that I can get behind. Life with chronic conditions is hard enough without all the “stuff” that fills up our homes and lives, so the less there is dragging me down, the better.

Now, if you’ve looked into KonMari at all online, no doubt you’ve seen the memes about people throwing out vegetables, bills, and work pants, and while they’re hilarious I just can’t be turned off by the positivity of Marie Kondo’s books and Netflix show. Perhaps it’s just that they lack the toxic positivity I’m used to from more motivational or “life-changing” books, but I feel drawn to them.

Actually getting down to implementing? That, right there, is the hard part.

Its not totally abnormal to struggle with implementation, but my level of anxiety makes it oh-so-extra-easy to come up with excuses to keep things. Want to get rid of that pair of jeggings that’s way too lose? What if your apartment somehow catches fire while you’re changing and those are the only pants you could possibly put on quickly enough to run? Think those PJ pants are at the end of their life and need to be tossed? What if the person who gave them to you 6 years ago takes it as a personal insult and hates you forever?

For me, KonMari-ing with anxiety is walking the fine line between not letting fear stop me and not pushing myself to a breakdown. I don’t want anxiety to stop me from working toward minimalism, but also, I don’t want to get obsessive so all I can think about is all the things that could go wrong if I get rid of one thing. I don’t want to never make progress unless I have a friend here to basically give me permission to get rid of stuff, but I don’t want to not ask for help when it’s a good idea. It’s an awkward balancing act that I’m still figuring out, but it’s working.

When we first downsized a few months ago, one of the most drastic changes was to our closet. We went from a closet so large it literally could have been a second bedroom, to a much more modest walk-in closet that is roughly 4×8 feet. This one closet is the place that houses all of our clothes, all my sentimental possessions, seasonal storage, and basically anything we have that needs to be stored long-term. As one of my friends described it, my side of the closet looked like “a cramped Goodwill rack” when we first moved in, and since then there’s been more than a little purging. This week I plan on another major closet clean-out, after a brief look-through resulted in the removal of 5 pairs of pants and 4 shirts. Here’s how I’m going to get through it with my mental health in tact:

  1. Setting the tone. This is a big one for me! It might sound silly to do just for a closet clean out, but it makes it so much easier and less stressful when I have my diffuser going with a favorite blend, a kickass playlist going, and a clean room to start with so I don’t have to do all the normal day-to-day cleanup after purging.
  2. Having a friend over. I’m setting up a time to have a friend over that also has a passion for minimizing, who can tell me those jeans don’t look good on me without making me feel bad about myself. We’ll throw some cookies in the oven, she can kick back and relax, and we’ll pick through the pieces I have to select the real winners.
  3. Pinning organized, minimal closets. The organization porn section of Pinterest never fails to make me feel at peace! The perfectly color-coded, organized closet photos with open spaces are no different, and pinning them before a purge helps me focus on how much having a more minimal closet calms me down instead of how much the actual purging can make me panic.
  4. Listing instead of donating immediately. When I purge, the clothes that are too nice to throw away (no major holes or stains) get put into a box to list. I take some nice photos of them, write out brief descriptions, and keep a doc with all of it. Later that day, either while I’m giving my back a break or once I’m done, I list all the items on several for-sale sites, then pack them up in a box until they sell or until a certain amount of time has passed. Knowing that they’re packed up and not immediately gone gives me some comfort, because I know that if it turns out I really do need that one thing, I have a little time to take it out and hang it back up. This is not a great technique for true hoarders, but I find that most of the time I forget the box exists until something sells, at which time I can laugh at how much I overestimated “needing” any of those items.
  5. Rewarding myself. Having a treat when I’m done makes a big difference for me, because it prevents that “oh no what have I done” mood from settling in. For me, there’s few things better than a documentary or comedy special and scoop of my favorite ice cream, but sometimes it’s a splurge on some high-end skincare or a new pair of jeans to replace the 4 I got rid of. Having that extra something to look forward to keeps me proud of my accomplishment, instead of leaving me with time to dwell on how to fill all that new empty space.

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