Some people are neat freaks. Other people are slobs. It is probably fair to suggest that the majority of people fall somewhere in the middle.
Cleanliness & Recovery
For example, we may prefer to pull back the covers on a nicely made bed in the evening. But we may have trouble getting the bed made when we are rushing around in the morning. Or maybe we have a great organizational system for our clothes but still somehow seem to be pulling clean shirts out of piles of unfolded laundry when we’re getting dressed. Or maybe we know that doing the dishes after a meal means things won’t pile up in the sink. But we may well still find stacks of dishes in the sink despite our best intentions.
The occasional unmade bed, batch of unfolded laundry, or pile of dirty dishes is no big deal, of course. But it turns out that a general commitment to cleanliness has significant benefits for our mental health—benefits that can be especially important for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder.
Or to put it more succinctly: Keeping things clean can help you stay clean.
Here’s How Decluttering Boosts Your Mental Health
We all know that a messy environment can cause stress in a number of different ways. First, a cluttered space can be visually overwhelming. Your eye searches for order but can’t find it when things are a mess. That sense of chaos can make it extremely difficult to relax. That’s true during the day—and even more true in the evening when a cluttered sleeping area can make it difficult to get to sleep. Restful sleep underpins our mental health, so anything you can do to improve the quality of your sleep is a good way to protect your sobriety.
And, of course, messiness can lead to stressful moments when you simply cannot find the thing you desperately need. Whether you are scrambling to find your keys so you won’t be late or can’t get started on a project because you can’t find the item you need to get started, the stress of losing things is real. If you are experiencing that stress frequently, it’s probably a good idea to try to straighten things up. It is amazing how knowing where things are when we need them can lessen the stress in our lives.
Another perhaps less obvious benefit of decluttering is that it can give us a quick sense of accomplishment that can help us get out of a bad mood or a sense of being stuck or bored. Even something as simple as gathering up the week’s junk mail and recycling it can provide a positive boost that can get us unstuck—and less likely to ruminate on the past or worry about the future. It’s a small thing, but it can be a powerful, positive lift nonetheless.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
We want to be clear that you don’t have to completely rearrange your life or throw away all your stuff or do anything drastic at all in order to experience the benefits of cleaning up. Each little bit of straightening up can reduce your stress, boost your mental health, and protect your sobriety.
And the good news is that each little area you clean up will make it easier to clean up the next spot—and the benefits will build upon themselves.
The First Step Is Cleaning the Drugs Out of Your System
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, cleaning up your living or work space does not need to be your top priority. Instead, prioritize getting help for your substance use disorder.
At The Aviary Recovery Center, we have the blend of expertise and compassion that allows us to create effective, evidence-based, personalized treatment plans. We offer medically supervised detoxification followed by a robust rehabilitation program that includes both individual and group therapy.
In addition to addressing your addiction, we can help you address any co-occurring mental health disorders. As we have noted, sobriety and good mental health are intertwined, so we work hard to ensure you have the strategies and resources you need to maintain both. It’s time for a clean start. The Aviary Recovery Center can help.