The New Year: Time to De-Clutter Your Mind and Home

How our home environment impacts recovery

Posted Jan 13, 2020

It is the start of a new year — a new decade — and a perfect time to clear our homes of “stuff” that is blocking us from our goals!  Our environment reflects our state of mind and our state of mind is impacted by our environment.  There has been a recent movement towards de-cluttering, inspired by the work of Marie Kondo and others who are increasing awareness about the mind, soul, home connection. 

You may be reading this blog and thinking that you do not really care about what your home “looks” like or that you are not bothered by a messy environment.  You may be an organized person who accumulates a lot of “stuff."  Or, you may wonder how any of this information relates to recovery from addiction

The concept of recovery encompasses so many dimensions of life.  It is not just about abstaining from substances.  It is about rewiring your brain, changing your reward system, altering your lifestyle, changing your social habits, forming healthy relationships, learning healthy coping skills, developing a spiritual life, practicing self-care, and an endless list of changes that evolve over time.  However, the home environment is not talked about as often as these other dimensions; the impact on recovery is often underestimated and overlooked.  Sobriety increases our awareness of one's surroundings and we cannot numb out our home.  In fact, our home should be our safe space, a respite from the chaos of the outside world.  However, if your home environment is disorganized, cluttered, and uninviting it can increase our stress levels and become a barrier to our recovery goals. 

Getting sober and the New Year are a chance to start fresh and to clear your home of unwanted belongings or memories from past substance use.  This can also be a chance to change the way in which you use your home, whether it is a large or small space.  By clearing out unnecessary items, you can make space for yourself visually or so that you can use your home differently.  For example, you may want to create an area where you can read or pray that is quiet and calm.  Or you may want to change the furniture placement of a room so that you do not feel drawn to sit in your “drinking seat”.  So often, our minds are cluttered and racing during early sobriety.  So why not try to de-clutter your environment to help to quiet your mind?  Having an organized and clutter-free home can also improve your overall functioning, paying bills on time, finding what you need for work, being on time, etc.

Where do you begin?

  • Start small: throw out, donate or give away one thing a day for a month. 
  • Put together items that you are not using and have a yard sale
  • Sell items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace — why not make some money while you declutter?
  • Take 10 minutes out of your day to organize
  • Dedicate a day our of your weekend to the room in your home that causes you the most stress
  • Have a friend come over to help
  • Research decluttering strategies
  • Start with the least challenging area of your home and work towards the most difficult
  • Begin a new routine of being sure that you have put away food and items that you have used during the day before going to bed.
  • Remember, something is better than nothing
  • Notice how you feel before and after de-cluttering
  • Reward yourself with something recovery or self-care related for your hard work
  • Play your favorite music or podcasts while organizing
  • Practice mindfulness as you go 
  • Move furniture around and create new feeling in your home
  • Have fun!