I believe that your feelings of being overwhelmed are just trying to keep you alive.
How many times have you said, “I feel so overwhelmed!” It’s something I hear all the time–especially from women when they are looking around at all the clutter in their homes.
You might think the reason you’re so emotionally overwhelmed is obvious–it’s the mess scattered everywhere. And while this is true, there is more going on behind the scenes than you might think.
When your brain is presented with too much visual stimuli, it retreats into “self preservation” mode. One of your brain’s main functions is to keep you alive, and it does that by preserving energy.
Did you know that your brain uses 20-25% of your daily energy? Your brain also cannot store energy, so it does everything it can to conserve it.
When it comes in contact with something that will require a lot of processing power (like dealing with your clutter), it tries to protect you and conserve energy by creating this feeling of being overwhelmed.
What do most of us do when we’re overwhelmed?
We leave the area. We ignore the situation. We tell ourselves, “I’ll deal with that later.” We start doing activities that don’t require a lot of brain power, like watching Netflix, scrolling social media, or eating ice cream–all of which are bad for our physical and mental health.
So this feeling of being overwhelmed is like a “get out of jail free” card. It gives you an “out” for not doing the things you know you ought to do. It’s really just your brain trying to conserve energy and protect you.
Ironically, if you got the clutter out, your brain wouldn’t be overloaded with visual stimuli, and it would have MORE energy to help you do the things you actually want to do. You’d be able to keep your brain engaged (instead of shut down) and you’d have power to achieve your goals instead of using that energy to constantly deal with the daily issues of life.
In the Time Magazine article, Does Thinking Burn Calories? Here’s What the Science Says, it states that a great deal of our brain’s energy is used for monitoring our environment for information. Therefore, it follows that if there is less “information” (i.e. clutter in your environment), your brain has more energy for other things.
I recently received an email from a woman in my HOME Girl Organizing Experience who was feeling overwhelmed. In the span of a few weeks, she suddenly lost her youngest brother, had travel difficulties getting to the funeral, had her sister suddenly arrive at her home to attend the funeral, AND her daughter with her husband and two small children moved into her basement.
However, even with all this unexpected turbulence, she said: “Let me tell you, how wonderful it was for my littlest sister to fly straight from her children’s cross country match (in Washington State), have my son drop her at my house & her be able to easily find clothes to wear, because of my beautiful drawers & closet. Thank you❣”
Even with everything else going on, and the unexpected arrival of her sister for the funeral, she had peace, because her drawers and closet were neat and organized. Even something as simple as that helps your brain to relax and conserve energy.
The reason we so easily fall into “ruts” or “bad habits” is because it’s easy for our brains. But even though it may conserve energy in the short run, it can be extremely damaging in the long run.melissa b. howell
I believe that decluttering your home is the number one thing you can do to free up energy in your brain. When you are no longer overwhelmed by the mess, your brain will not shut down, you’ll add hours back into your day, and you’ll find new and exciting things to do with all that energy!
Want help decluttering your home? Watch my free Home Organizing Master Class!
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