Story – 5 Tips for Managing Excessive Clutter and Hoarding (Psychology Month)

It is estimated that approximately 2-5% of Canadians have been diagnosed with hoarding disorder, although shame and a lack of understanding of hoarding could result in this being a severe underestimation.

Hoarding disorder is defined as a difficulty to discard or part with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. It is a treatable condition, but difficult to identify and diagnose

If you think you or a loved one are at risk of or living with hoarding disorder, here are some simple tips to begin managing:

  1. Stop accumulation

If you want to empty a bathtub, the first thing you do is turn off the water. The same applies to managing excessive clutter – reducing how much you bring into your home makes managing easier.

  1. Keep track of what goes in and out

Becoming mindful of the flow of items in and out of your house can be helpful for clutter reduction goal-setting. Using an in-and-out log like this one can help you keep track on a daily basis.

  1. Make sure to maintain comfort and safety

Don’t let your things put you at risk – Check out this set of guidelines on where and how to store your belongings.

  1. Start with low-hanging fruit

Don’t try to start with the biggest challenge – set yourself reasonable goals to gain momentum in your clutter management. Start with clearing obvious garbage and take pride in checking anything off your list, however small it may feel.

  1. Assess want vs. need

What does it mean to need something? Ask yourself – will you be able to meet your basic and comfort needs without this item? If the answer is yes, consider getting rid of it. It’s often easier to get rid of items you want vs. items you need.

On February 27, Hanna McCabe-Bennett will be speaking on understanding and dealing with excessive clutter and hoarding at the Hamilton Public Library’s Sherwood Branch as part of the Psychology Month Mind Matters series. Learn more about Dr. McCabe-Bennett’s talk or the other lectures in the series here.


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