Inside: Letting go is a freeing process, but it is also possible to be left feeling sad after decluttering. If you’ve been working on decluttering your space and are struggling with some of the emotions that can come along with it, these tips will help you to get back on track.
Have you ever tried to declutter your house – and instead of feeling accomplished, you felt sad?
You aren’t alone.
Believe it or not, it’s more common than you may think to feel a little bit sad after tackling your clutter and organizing your home. After all, the things we own hold special meaning to us – whether we realize it or not.
And saying goodbye to those things? Lots of them, all at once? For some people, it can feel a little traumatic, especially if they were very emotionally attached to their stuff.
Keep reading to understand some potential reasons for your decluttering sadness – and some recommendations on how to overcome feelings of sadness brought on by decluttering.
Why Do You Feel Sad After Decluttering?
For many of us, the sadness that followed a big decluttering session was the last thing we expected to experience. For others, it was an expected outcome – an anticipated result of saying goodbye to so much stuff.
Understanding why you feel sad can be a helpful piece of information in your journey to overcome that sadness, turn your mood around, and say goodbye to clutter in the future without hesitation.
Here are just a few reasons you might be experiencing feelings of sadness after decluttering:
Change Can Be Overwhelming
Decluttering can be a tremendous undertaking, and you might be truly surprised to see how different your home feels when you’re finally finished – or when you stop to take a break halfway through to take a deep breath and look at the state of your space.
This dramatic difference can be legitimately overwhelming for some people.
You might need a little bit of time to process the change you’re experiencing, and that’s OK. Take all the time you need to say goodbye to your stuff and prepare yourself for what’s next.
Getting Rid of Meaningful Things Can Be Hard
Decluttering can also be difficult when you have to get rid of things that mean something to you.
Getting rid of souvenirs, family heirlooms, things you received as gifts, and clothes can bring back memories from a certain period in your life. It can all present more of an emotional challenge than you might be prepared for.
Feelings of sadness and even guilt might present themselves as you try to get rid of items that hold meaning for you or someone you love. And these feelings can happen even when you know there’s a completely rational explanation for why you’re getting rid of this stuff.
It Might Feel Like You’re “Throwing Money Away”
People keep clutter for various reasons. Some clutter stems from holding onto items with emotional sentiment and value. Other clutter comes from not wanting to say goodbye to things we spent our hard-earned money on.
This is a common mindset, and it’s one that can be difficult to change as it’s often ingrained from childhood. Especially if you grew up in a situation where money was scarce, the goal was to hold onto as much as possible – even if you don’t want or need it now, something might come up later.
There can be a variety of emotions that come up during the decluttering process. It’s not all about the stuff itself, but rather what it represents.
Feeling Sad After Decluttering: Five Ways To Cope
Decluttering got you feeling down?
When sadness strikes from decluttering, don’t worry – you can turn that frown upside down with a little effort. Decluttering might put you in a funk, but you’ll be back to normal in no time with a few helpful coping strategies.
The next time you find yourself upset after decluttering, here are five things you can do to turn your mood around. See which one – or combination – works best for you!
1. Take a break.
If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by sadness as you declutter, it might be a good time to pause and take a break. Your emotions and feelings are valid.
Step away and seek out a change of scenery – that could be stepping into the next room, taking a quick walk, or driving to your favorite coffee shop.
Use your best judgment on how long your break should last. Sometimes, ten minutes is all you need to shake yourself out of a funk and feel good again. Other times, it might be best to call it a day so you can try again tomorrow with a fresh perspective and a good night’s rest.
2. Do something that feels good.
An easy way to turn your mood around and shake off the decluttering blues is to find something that’ll give you a natural dose of endorphins.
A quick bout of exercise is one easy way to achieve that. Go for a jog, ride your bike down your favorite trail, head to the gym, or take a walk.
Another thing that might feel good? Donating some of the stuff you’ve decluttered to a local organization you want to support or to someone in your community (we love our Buy Nothing group!).
If you’re looking for a way to feel like you’ve done something meaningful, it feels good to know that your decluttered clothes, shoes, furniture, and books can find new homes with folks who need them.
3. Talk through it.
For some, the only way to overcome feelings of sadness is to work through them. If you’re working with a therapist, consider exploring these feelings together to understand where they come from and how to best address them.
No therapist? A talk with a friend or family member can be and incredibly helpful way to process through your emotions.
Prefer to think through things like this on your own? A journal is a great tool when it comes to working through complicated thoughts and feelings.
4. Remember your goals.
If you’re feeling sad after decluttering, think back to why you started decluttering in the first place. Revisit the goals that you set. Remember why you created them in the first place.
How do you want your home to look, feel, and function? Why is that important to you? What are you creating space for in your home and life?
There are many benefits to experience from decluttering your home. It doesn’t mean that the process is always easy or painless though. There may be moments of doubt or sadness and that is ok.
When you reflect on the reasons for decluttering and the benefits you will be able to enjoy from it, it outweighs the momentary sadness.
Decluttering is an act of love for you, your family, and your loved ones. It is worth the time, effort, and emotional energy required to get it done.
Adjust your expectations
Don’t beat yourself up if you need to slow down or take some time off. Acknowlege the work you’ve put into it and be grateful for the strides you’re making.
Decluttering is a process. For most people, it took many years to acquire all of their things, so don’t expect to work through it all in a weekend.
Remind yourself of your goals and work on it as you’re able.
5. Focus on your favorites.
One final tip to help if you are feeling sad after decluttering is to focus on your favorite things. It’s tempting to think about the things that are gone which could make you sad.
However, refocusing on the things that you love and use can ease that sadness. A perspective shift can make a big difference.
Instead of staying stuck in the past, think about your favorite things that you have and the extra space you’ve created in your home and life. Redirecting your attention to the positives will help you to move past the sadness.
When you’re feeling sad after decluttering, how do you cope? Leave a comment and share your favorite solutions below!
If you’re having trouble jumping back into the decluttering process, sign up on the form below to get the free 5 Areas to Declutter in 10 Minutes Checklist to help you make progress again. You’ll also get weekly decluttering and simplifying tips sent straight to your inbox!
Loved this post! For me the best things to do when I’m feeling sad or hesitant about decluttering are to give the items to someone who I know can use them, take a break and enjoy my current level of decluttered till I’m ready to go again, put on some good music, or to think about what I want my future life to look like and aim for that instead of the past.
I’m a long way off being decluttering but someone introduced me to “mindful ownership” (can’t remember who – if it was you, sorry!) and I find that term really helpful.
What I hold onto as I gradually remove the excess is that I can now find what I’ve got – and it works! The number of duplicates is astonishing – 3 staplers and hole punches is just not necessary!
But we’ve so much stuff that so far I’ve been able to ignore much of the really emotional stuff.
The worst was the pram, which was used for 4 children and I still loved, because it also was a sign that I was never going to have another baby. I still think nostalgically about it and our youngest is 19! But getting rid of it also proved to me that I CAN get rid of things that are emotionally loaded and it’s fine!
I am a knitter with a huge stash of yarn, plus a serious collection of books and magazines. I have begun the process of removing the books and magazines first. They will either be sold or donated to my local library. I am also digitizing where I can.
I feel as if I am removing a part of myself, and took a two week break away. Literally. We went overseas.
My knitting friends are sad for me but I am taking the longer view with all of this. I will allow myself time to grieve. However, I really need to get over myself and move forward with the process. It will be more fine to do this proactively.