When I get stressed out I clean. I organize and get rid of stuff. Today my kitchen is spotless. (It was kind of a rough day at work.) I find my reaction to be an interesting stress response. Here’s what I think it is:
When stressed, I feel out of control. Cleaning and organizing puts me back in control. My brain is soothed by order. While my hands soak in a sudsy lather of dish soap, I can physically scrub away any accumulated filth and yuck on the silverware. It’s the closest I can get sometimes to scrubbing away the filth and yuck of a bad day at work. When I’m done and everything is put away, order is restored. A sense of calm floods my being.
When I get rid of stuff by purging the pantry, cupboards, and closets I feel lighter. I like the feeling that stuff doesn’t own me. I can let it go because it’s just stuff. It’s not always easy to let go of the emotional stuff, but I somehow feel one step closer when I let go of something physical. Oddly, I also feel like I’m one step closer to moving to Hawaii every time I purge things from my household. One less box I need to worry about shipping to the island. It’s comforting. Like I could actually do this. Take complete control, leave all my worries behind and just go to my beloved island.
The problem is that I’m going to run out of physical stuff someday, or purge something I actually do use regularly and cause friction in the household. I know I’ve already had to answer to my husband at least twice when he’s gone looking for something we used to own. Saying I know where it is it’s at the Goodwill hasn’t exactly been met with enthusiasm.
When I do finally run out of stuff to purge and organize I’m not sure what I’ll do. Confront the real source of my stressors? Sounds awful. Maybe I can just come to your house?
Hawaii or Bust-