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De-cluttering Overwhelm

By Jodi Cohen

A young woman sitting on a couch, looking overwhelmed by the mess in her living room, with clothes scattered everywhere and household items out of place.

I often feel overwhelmed.

More often than I would like to admit.. like several times a day often.

It feels awful, like my body can’t wait to spring into action, but can’t decide what action to take so all that energy that wants to mobilize externally just spins around internally, leaving me feel anxious and paralyzed at the same time.

It’s like I want to do everything and nothing all at once and there are so many options that I don’t know where to start so I’m tempted to do nothing.  My evolving definition of “nothing” includes the desire to take a nap, binge a show, walk the dogs or – my latest discovery – de-clutter.

My house appears to be clean. By “appears to be clean” what I mean is the surfaces that are visible to the eye are clean or seem to be.  It’s the areas that are not visible to the average visitor – the cabinets, the pantry, the attic and basement – that house the overflow of clothing, paperwork and crap that I probably don’t need but haven’t figured out how to process or discard.  So it sits.  And gathers dust.  And contributes to the clutter in my  house and the clutter in my mind.

And the clutter in my mind contributes to my overwhelm, in part because the clutter in the house feels overwhelming and I am not sure how to break down into manageable chunks that I can sift through and let go of.

Hence my new strategy, assisted by essential oils to…. de-clutter.


How De-cluttering Helps Calm Overwhelm

Clutter can feel like overwhelm – too many things to distract your focus and attention.

Physical clutter can fill your pantry or your attic creating literal physical stagnation.

Mental and emotional clutter also contribute to the feeling of stagnation and paralysis and the prevent you from moving forward to reach your goals.

Starting to sort through and clean out the clutter begins to open up space not only in your physical surrounding, but in your heart and your mind.

I had heard that the physical act of de-cluttering, or  letting go of and releasing old possessions and thought patterns make room for the new opportunities to emerge.  So I decided to try it.

I started by making a list of all the places where I felt stuck.  I included physical areas in my home, along with stuck points in my business, my relationships and my health (like crazy tight hips).

Then I would look at the list and pick what felt like the lowest hanging fruit or the easiest to take on.  for example, you don’t need to clean the whole pantry, you can just take on one shelf at a time.

A crazy thing started to unfold.  Overwhelm started to unwind.

I will notice the overwhelm.

Then I will intentionally calm my nervous system with the parasympathetic pause.  What this means is I will topically apply Parasympathetic® blend behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone to stimulate the vagus nerve where it is most accessible to the surface of the skin.

This helps me pause the overwhelm.  I call this the “parasympathetic PAUSE”.

Once my nervous system is paused, I intentionally PIVOT out of paralysis.  I do this by making a different choice.

Instead of choosing inaction – in the form of a nap or binge watching a show – and choose an action.  I pick one of the items on my stuck list and make a small effort in the direction of getting unstuck.  This could be as simple as throwing away or putting away one item or cleaning out one drawer.

This small de-cluttering effort helps me pattern interrupt overwhelm.  It gives me a tangible structure in which to channel and release that stuck energy and help break up the stagnation.

Here are some easy starting points for de-cluttering your home.  Physical de-cluttering can help open up and create space for emotional and mental de-cluttering. 

Start with a walk-through of your home, paying special attention to your kitchen, living room bedrooms and bathrooms. Notice how each area makes you feel and any areas stand out as areas that might benefit from de-cluttering.

Go room by room. Sort through your drawers, your cupboards, your closets, your surface areas and notice what you are holding onto that you are ready to let go of?  This could be old pots and pans, towels, paperwork or even old thought patterns and feelings.    This will help you identify where to start in your journey to de-clutter.

Then just pick one small place to start.  It can literally begin with one small, actionable focus. You don’t need to dedicate an entire day or even an entire hour to decluttering.  Just pick a drawer, start with one corner of your desk, or set a timer for 10 minutes.

If you feel overwhelmed at any point, I encourage you to pause and take a moment to calm your nervous system by inhaling or topically applying Parasympathetic® blend behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.