My recent experience with a hoarder

Quite often I go and help clients declutter and this can come in several forms such as clearing out a playroom of old toys and nik naks that are no longer age appropriate, getting rid of items that are surplus to requirements or will not fit into a new home (especially for downsizers) and for those who are termed ‘hoarders’ and really have trouble moving about their home as it is full to the rafters. In the latter situation, I often come across books on decluttering and how to organise your life etc or rolls of black bags buried under a mountain of belongings and this tells me that on many occasions, people do try and help themselves but it is not as easy as reading a book to get top tips.

Needless to say, this is where I come in. Admittedly it would be far simpler if we all had access to aircraft hangers a la Stacey Solomon’s Sort Your Life Out programme on TV. To have the space to layout every tiny object in order that a decision be made about each one and so that the enormity of the situation can be illustrated is a real luxury and one that I don’t have. My reality is more a contortion act and a combination of squeezing into tiny spaces and balancing myself and items wherever I can.

A messy house can create a negative environment in terms of cleanliness but also one’s ability to think clearly and work effectively which can lead to depression. It’s easier said than done though, and I have a client at the moment who is going through a cycle of anxiety, upset, regret and indecision every time we get together for a sorting session. Having to downsize from a three-bedroom house to a two-bed flat is causing her untold amounts of stress and for the first time in the 15 years I have been doing this job I am being regularly shouted at. She is always at pains to say she is not shouting at me perse but shouting out of frustration at herself. Despite taking one area at a time, the task is overwhelming her and the short space of time she has only seems to exacerbate her anxiety.
Spring is a good time to take stock and there are some ‘easy wins’ that most people can undertake themselves, all you need to do is make time and decide where to start.

Stop procrastinating – which area bothers you the most? Start there – little and often before moving on

Let go – it’s tough to get rid of sentimental items as these trigger emotions – remember the memory is in your head anyway no matter what. I have one client who likes to take photos of items that are extra special to her before disposing of them

Don’t worry about the cost – when having a sort out it is hard not to think about the money that has been spent – but that’s not a reason to hold on to things. Where possible try and use selling sites or do a car boot sale to recoup some money. If you can’t, donating items to charity and recycling them will at least make you feel less wasteful when getting rid of things

Ditch the guilt – if you have received items as gifts from family or friends you may be reluctant to say goodbye to them. However, if you haven’t used them, think about re gifting or donating to charity so they find a good home

Change your mindset from ‘What if..’ – holding on to things “in case” you need them in the future, “in case” they come back into fashion or are worth something or “for when you lose weight” is a common situation. Often a third party, who is objective, can help you decide if it is something you really want or need. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to go shopping for a new wardrobe to celebrate any significant weight loss?

For over a decade Suzanne has been helping individuals save time and alleviate stress when moving house, moving into care homes, sheltered accommodation, or downsizing to a smaller property.
Her remit at Your Home Move is vast and includes buying and selling property, sorting through personal possessions and confidential paperwork, taking items to charity or consigning them to auction, change of address administration, packing and unpacking and ensuring that every aspect of the move goes smoothly. You can find out more by calling 0203 903 9915 or emailing [email protected]

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