Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
This two-time cancer survivor writes to-do lists and weeds out her cancer clutter and home after the New Year, resulting in less physical and mental clutter, and less worry.
Are you feeling worn down after the holidays and a little bit bewildered by the New Year? When there is physical clutter, cancer or other types around my home, it adds to my stress and mental clutter. As a clutter clearing speaker-author as well as a cancer survivor (still here after two cancers), I like to share my tips to ease your cancer-cluttered thoughts and home.
First, take care of you with a written to-do list.
Get thoughts out of your head and onto a New Year's to-do list. Write down the medical appointments you need to call to make. See? The stress in your head already begins to go down. At least, that is what happens to me because I no longer have to worry about forgetting to take care of my health worries.
More specifically, you can also list or begin to put away any cancer supplies that you can. If you are past active treatment, do you really want to see these reminders around your home?
How does that work? You can put them all in a box somewhere that you do not have to see every single day. And, yes, you can also write down holiday returns you want to make, shopping to do during post-holiday sales, and any self-care items like massages, and haircuts. Open up and schedule some space for good stuff to come into your life with your to-do list. You deserve this!
Next, weed out the clutter- literally, lighten up.
As you make up your to-do list and move around your home, do not let mental "should's" and "oughts" weigh you down or become guilt. When you see things in your home that feel negative to you, clear them out! Or, at least put them away in a labeled storage box. Honestly, clearing out my clutter improves my energy - even after the chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries that I have had. When household clutter takes up precious home space, there is no room for fresh good things to enter. You deserve fresh good things in your life that can help energize it.
There is not a single "correct" way to clear clutter. We each have a unique personality, health situation, energy level, life stage, and age. Which can impact how we tackle dealing with the clutter in our lives, both physical and mental.
Here are some ways to approach physical clutter when you are struggling with cancer fatigue: Work in small areas like one shelf or one drawer at a time. Or, set a timer and work for as little as ten minutes at a time. You may be surprised at what you can get done in as little as ten minutes! Try to do these techniques a few times per week. A third and even simpler way is to get in the habit of quickly scanning for unused items as you go about your daily routines: When you open a bathroom drawer, toss dated and unused items. When you open a dresser drawer, toss the socks with holes or without mates. You get the idea, and you will make progress each time.
You can improve your mental and physical state with a little bit of clutter clearing. I am learning not to hang onto things that remind me of bad times. Or, if I do feel the need to save something, I put it somewhere I do not have to see it every day.
You can also apply the strategy of professional organizers - put things you use all the time in easy-to-reach places, things you use slightly less frequently in slightly less easy-to-reach places, and stuff you rarely use in difficult-to-reach storage areas.
Finally, take a moment.
Making a to-do list and weeding out will help you have more peace and calm and less stress and worry in the New Year. You can do this! Give yourself a moment to breathe and appreciate the newfound mental and physical space in your life. A little bit of physical and mental peace and order will help you tame those nasty cancer fears and worries and move your life forward.