This morning I asked my husband where our big vacuum was; when we moved here, we bought a smaller electric Dyson hand-vac. Putting our big Dyson in the basement, only bringing out the “big guns” when we needed it.
I have discovered that home cleanliness is a huge trigger for anxiety for me – as I’ve mentioned in another post. I don’t know why – my mom was always clean, but never a total neat-freak, obsessive about it – nor are my in-laws – and my mom never really got after me about keeping my bedroom clean. At least nothing beyond the usual stuff expected of a parent to a teenager.
But, at the moment, I have a lot of anxiety with the house. When I go into the kitchen, the bathroom, front entry, even the stairs! As easy as it would be to say “just do the fucking dishes!”, or “put things back where you got them”, etc, it’s not that easy when anxiety is involved – and I thought this was a perfect example of how anxiety can hijack your life.
If you substitute anxiety of how messy/dirty/untidy the house is for anxiety over a goal of losing weight/going back to school/get out of debt/whatever. When you start looking at everything you want or need to do in order to get there, it can be daunting. Especially if it’s something that is an ongoing thing. For instance, if you work your ass off to get out of debt, you can’t just adopt your old habits, otherwise debt will creep back up. If you want to lose weight, you bust your ass to lose the weight, but you will have to maintain at least a portion of the changes you’ve made to get there in order to stay there.
And the same is with the house. Once it’s clean, you constantly have to work on keeping it clean otherwise it gets messy/dirty again.
And I think my home is a perfect visual representation of me trying to lose weight. I CAN get my house clean, but it’s the keeping it clean that stresses me out. And I CAN lose the weight, but it’s the keeping it off that I struggle with. This is why I say that I’m not afraid of failure, but I’m afraid of success. Because when I get to a place where I’m happy (happy in the balance of food and exercise, not in a number such as weight or measurements) the thought of actually having to maintain it is daunting and scary because I’ve never been able to in the past! What makes me think I’ll be able to do it this time?
The problem with anxiety is that when it comes in for one thing, it affects your whole life.
So what can you do?
One tiny step at a time.
As I mentioned in my previous post, “Think Smaller”, don’t look at the big picture as it can be too daunting. Look at the smaller chunks of what you need to do to get there. At the moment, I need to focus on the house as it gives me the most anxiety; I don’t like being in the house, and when I’m in the house, I feel exhausted and don’t want to do anything.
So for tonight, instead of going to the gym, I’m going to focus on the house. Tonight I will work on the kitchen. Dishes, counters, floors, finish putting the groceries away… I’ll put the floor mats through the wash and wipe down all hard surfaces. I’ll pull the kitchen cart away from the wall and wipe that down. Once the floor is vacuumed, I’ll wash it with an actual mop. I know the stove really needs to be pulled out and cleaned on the sides, but I’m not sure about that as it’s propane, so that’ll wait. There’s lots of big things that need to be done, but, really, it’s the little things that really bother me. In the bathroom, it’s the venting covered in a thick layer of dust. It’s the condensation dripping from the windows. It’s the dust buildup on the floor molding and around the tub. It’s the cleanliness of the toilet. It’s all the little things that I know I should do – and should have done probably months ago – but haven’t. That’s what’s giving me anxiety – not the big obvious things. But the buildup of the big obvious things has just added to all the little things and I’m finding it hard to focus on what needs to happen. My solution was to not deal with it – and that, in turn is affecting my mental health.
Stuck energy is stuck energy – it doesn’t happen just in the body. It happens in the environment as well. And in an area that one spends so much time in can have devastating effects on your health. Don’t believe me? Think back to places you’ve been over the years. There will be places that you’ve visited – whether family, friends, or on holidays – and some places will be fantastic. You’re calm and relaxed. Whereas other places may feel chaotic – they’ll put you on edge and you can’t wait to leave. You’ll meet people like that, as well. You may get a feeling of unease, anxiety, unsettling… likely a bi-product of their environment. I’m sure if you look at the statistics of abused/neglected children – chances are, the house they came from was dirty and chaotic.
Yes, this may be an over simplified reason as to why you can’t get your goals, but you know what? The stress and anxiety I feel in the house is real. I find it hard to want to do anything constructive with that constantly in front of me. If I can at least lessen that stress, maybe I’ll have the energy to do everything else I want to do!