Is Your Mess Causing Your Stress?

Posted by tonyoverbay

Take a quick look around your room, your office, or even your car. What do you see? Do you find yourself staring at the same piles of paper, or half-completed projects that you've been working around for days weeks or even months? Do you feel a constant "low key" feeling of anxiety when you're in a messy room? And what if company suddenly decides to stop by? Do you panic, or party? If you’re feeling even a tiny bit of stress even thinking about the areas of your life where there may be an excessive amount of clutter, you’re not alone. In this episode, Tony references the article “A Cluttered House is a Cluttered Mind,” by Erin Cullum, as well as the article “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies,” by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D.


Tony also references the article “No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol” by Saxbe and Repetti


Tony's interview on Shawn Rapier’s Latter-Day Lives can be found here


Tony's FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help. And Tony is so confident that this program will work, that he's offering a money-back guarantee!


This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


Tony's new best selling book "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" is now available on Kindle.


Tony Overbay, is the co-author of "He's a Porn Addict...Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions" now available on Amazon The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.


You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.


EP 210 Mess causing stress-2020-06-23-375.mp3
[00:00:08] Everybody, thank you for tuning in the episode 210 of the Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit couch, a father for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and Online Pornography Recovery Program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anybody that you know is trying to put pornography behind them once and for all and trust me, it can be done in a strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way, then please head over to path back recovery dotcom.

[00:00:39] And there you will find a very short e-book entitled Something to the effect of five common mistakes that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. Again, that's passed back recovery. Dotcom and my free parenting course. Parenting positively, even during the not so positive times, is still, well, free. So just head to Tony Overbay dot com courses and you will find it there. A couple of other very quick items of business today. I'm recording this on a on a on a beautiful Tuesday morning in Northern California. And yesterday on Monday, an interview I did with Sean Ripia on his Latter Day Lives podcast is was aired. And it is very it's very fascinating to be interviewed and be in the hot seat and just have to tell stories about growing up and all of those sort of things. And I still try to turn it back around and an interview or do virtual therapy on Sean. He wasn't aware at the time, but he fell prey. So if there's that and if you want to hear more, it bounces sound silly saying, hey, if you want to hear more about my story, go over to Shandra Piers Latter Day Lives, interview his podcast and I'll put that in the show notes as well.

[00:01:51] Maybe a link there. That was a lot of fun. And I did a lot of a couple of other podcasts this week that are coming up soon. And I'll kind of keep you aware that doing a whole website upgrade, that's going to make it easier to find a lot of content, not only my own, but when I've been a guest on some other shows and that sort of thing. Which also leads me to I've alluded for a long time to go to Tony Overbay dot com and sign up there to find out more about all kinds of exciting new things. And one of those exciting new things is getting very, very close to a reality teamed up with with my business coach. He's a he's a motivational speaker. His name's Preston Buckmeier. And we are about to launch a marriage course. And honestly, it's it's incredible. I've wanted to do something like this for a long, long time. And I will be talking plenty about this in the next few weeks as we gear up toward the launch, revealing the name and where you can find out more information. But right now, just go to Tony Overbay Dotcom and just sign up there on my email list to find out more. Or if you go like or follow Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook or follow me on Instagram at Virtual Couch.

[00:03:05] You will find out more information as it becomes available, but it truly is going to be incredible. He is really pushed me hard. I wanted him to to be able to really put a lot of these concepts of emotionally focused therapy, F.T. this couple's model that I love in very tangible what do I do next? How do I implement this weighs so again, so much more. You're going to hear about that in the next few weeks. But I can't wait. We've we spent a whole lot of time these last few weeks putting this together. And I really feel like we've kind of cracked the code, so to speak, on how to communicate more effectively with your partner, along with exercises on how to. And I wasn't even planning on talking about it today. But you can tell that I'm very excited and very quick if you have a second and you can subscribe or rate or review the podcast, that helps a lot. That's again, there's an odd algorithm. It's it's a mystery of how people find out more about podcasts. But I know that is one of the ways. And with that said, just a quick review that I received this week from someone named Polly Pocket, which I love that because my kids had Polly Pockets.

[00:04:10] And it's one of those things that we saved and hung on to, hoping that for some reason they would become collectibles. But I don't think that's the case. So I might need to get rid of them or I guess save them for my grandkids or something like that. But this person said, I love this podcast with all capitals and love. It's the first podcast they ever listen to, which is really an honor when I hear that Tony is interesting, he's captivating and informative. And when I listen to his podcast, I love that he's real and he doesn't hide it. You don't ever feel bored learning. So thank you very much, Polly Pocket. And please, if you have a second again, rate review, subscribe all that good stuff. All right, let's get to today's topic. This one is fascinating. And oftentimes my wife and I love this. She will just text me news articles that she sees throughout the day and we'll just say, hey, this might make an interesting podcast. And this is one that has been on my mind for quite a while because it has to do with clutter.

[00:05:01] And I will be so up front and honest that I am not the person that this well know. I'm the person that. This article has been targeted or is intended for, because I do find a lot of mental clutter when I am surrounded by clutter, but then even if I'm looking at my desk right now as I'm recording, there's clutter.

[00:05:20] There's a there's a lot of clutter. And I will find myself often even in therapy, looking around my office and thinking, man, I wonder if people just kind of step back and take a look if they would just wonder what's what's Tony's deal. I mean, if I just take a glance around right now, my desk with all my podcast equipment, I've got books on here, I've got a whole bunch of sticky notes. I've got some uncashed checks and water and keys and phone and all kinds of things. And looking around my room, I've gone through a candle phase. I'm now defusing essential oils to make my office smell good. I'm using fig, by the way, right now, which I didn't even know what a fig smelled like. But it's it's lovely. I really enjoy it. But all around my office, I do feel like one could say there's clutter. So I think I need to have someone come in and declare my office.

[00:06:05] But I know that clutter. I hear it often brought up. And it's one of those topics that people, even in marriage, can have really difficult conversations around because someone might have grown up in a house of order will just say that and someone might have grown up and not as much of a house of order. And so they both have different experiences when they are interacting with or around clutter. And I'm not talking hoarders kind of clutter, although if that's an issue, I'm sure that it would be even more exacerbated is what we're going to talk about today. And honestly, if you've never watched a Hoarders episode, a season, a new season was uploaded on Netflix recently. And it is that is that is my just kid in a candy store.

[00:06:49] If I just sit there and watch an episode of Hoarders because the psychological component is fascinating and then just to see how people get to where they are, it'll kind of blow your mind to see that. But the article that I'm I'm going to pull from today and actually go with a couple of them is one that my wife has sent me. It's by Aaron Culham and it's titled A Cluttered House is a Cluttered Mind. So I try really hard to stay organized. And and I don't really know of Aaron's background or credentials, but Aaron did a nice job putting this article together. But then it refers to a another article that I'm going to jump to by a clinical psychologist. And it and she also referred to a study that was a really in-depth study that is on words in how you describe the clutter in your home. So I'm going to talk about that as well. And I am going to tell a couple of stories that I have never told before that I'm very excited to talk about where it puts me not in the role of hero, but a bit in the role of the unaware husband. So Aaron starts the article by saying that she didn't always realize clutter has a direct effect on her mood. She said the daily grind of getting ready in the morning unwinding after a long day at work usually ends and dropping bags at the door, jumping into some comfy clothes, shedding any stress, seeing what's for dinner, taking time to relax.

[00:08:08] But she said for her, the sigh of relief since the call is impossible without a clean, tidy home. If the countertops aren't clear, she says, neither is her mind. Piles of paper, probably unnecessary mail cringe. And she says, and I've heard this one many times, Hoarders is a horror show. So she talked about this correlation or identifying a correlation between what her apartment looks like and how she feels physically and mentally. And she said that when you reduce that clutter in her home, that it really has made a difference in her day to day. So she says she tries to make a conscious effort in trying to clean while she goes or gets dishes done as soon as she can keep shoes out of the doorway avoids what I love is the clothes chair in her bedroom. That might also be the treadmill or the StairMaster or the weight bench. I know I've had a few of those in my day, but she says she tries to put things back after she uses it and avoids accumulating clutter in the first place, striving to create a minimalist space and all of those wonderful things. And so I'm skipping all over that because I think that there are people that are listening right now that either think, well, yeah, that's what you do. You put things that way after you use them and you pick up along the way and everything has a place. And I forget what that phrase is.

[00:09:20] My father in law used to say it. There's a place for everything and everything in its place. And so there are people that that just come so naturally. But when you interact with other human beings, especially those of the tiny variety that isn't always is easily is easily done is one once. So she said she recognizes not everybody feels this way about clutter and she talks about a boyfriend of hers who wouldn't bat an eye, things strewn across the counter. But so here we jump into one of the articles that we're going to talk about today, she said. In Psychology Today, Doctor of Psychology Sheri Borg Carter writes, Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important. That clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. So simply put, mess equals stress, so I really like how simplistically Dr. Carter writes that clutter bombards our mind with excessive stimuli. And I'll admit I hadn't necessarily thought of that. I mean, if you go back and look at Charles Duhigg is the power of habit, that book, he has some pretty fascinating data of even looking at CEOs in the workplace and how they're there. I like to call it their brain sponge can be full by the end of the day and their people can get to the point where they just can't make additional decisions. And so I feel like there's a correlation here that as clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, I'm sure that that causes some mental fatigue or exhaustion along the way.

[00:10:49] So the more that we don't have to deal with this extensive or excessive stimuli, the more chance we are going to have to be able to be present and be there for our partner or our kids, or to be able to show up a little bit more and not feel just overwhelmed. So the first story that I want to tell is a story of when when when we had little kids, when Wendy and I had little kids and we've been married and we're getting close to 30 years. My youngest is 16. So I've got 16, 18, 20 and 22. So this is many, many moons ago. I believe we maybe had one or two little kids at the time. And Wendy said a couple of things at one point that had changed my view that day that I've carried with me. I've used in sessions and you name it that as in let me kind of set the stage. So we had a toy room in the house and and I'm pretty sure it was when we had two little girls. I want to say that three and one or four into my my oldest two daughters and we had every toy known to man is I think a lot of new parents would do the kitchens and Barbie, their princesses and doll houses and and little cars and everything.

[00:11:56] We had everything. And we would try to put all of these things in this toy room, in the toy room would just be a disaster. And I remember how often we would clean the toy room. And I remember feeling kind of like, well, what's the point? Because the girls are just going to go in the next morning and just just mess up the toy room again. So wouldn't it just be smarter to keep the toy room in complete disarray? And my wife disagreed and I wouldn't give it a lot of thought at that time. I'm working in the computer software industry. I go off to work, I come home and and I can tell at times that she's pretty frazzled. The toy room might be a bit of a mess. And again, I would assume that, well, then we should just leave it because it's a lot of work to do. But she really wanted to clean up the toy room at the end of the day, and that would kind of extend out into the family room and other areas of the house of where she really wanted to. Just at the end of the day, I used to say this is probably a negative at the time, the way I would say it, that we wanted the house to look a bit like a model home. And then at the end of the evening and again, I wish I had my therapist skills back in the day of apologize, too, I think so many times because of this.

[00:12:59] And I was taught valuable lessons, but I remember one time to saying, hey, tell me why it's important for you to clean up the toy room at the end of the day, clean up the house at the end of the day, have things off of the counters when it's just going to get messed up the next day. And that was when she let me know that she said is a stay at home mom. She kind of felt like to a certain point how the home looked was a bit of a reflection on her so that when people stop by, for example, and we live next door to her sister. And so there were people in in her neighborhood at that time, I think that there were five or six stay at home moms and thirty something kids under the age of ten. And so people were kind of going in and out of each other's homes. So when people stopped by, she just felt like if the house had a semblance of order, that it was easy for her to feel comfortable welcoming people in. And and this is a deep marriage therapy principle that it was not my job to try and dispute her view of reality. You know, I was I mean, even if I wasn't going off to work every day and not being in the home, who am I to say, well, you shouldn't think that way or you shouldn't care.

[00:14:00] You just need to, you know, all those unproductive things that we find ourselves saying instead of saying, hey, tell me about what this experience is like for you. So she like that feeling. There's a semblance of order. But she also shared that at the end of the night, and I love this one, she felt like having the house picked up or in order helped her relax and allowed her to be able to turn off her brain a little easier and be able to go to sleep. And so to this day, cleaning up the kitchen, picking things up off the floors, the counters, loading the dishwasher, even putting the pillows back on the couch, finding the remote controls, which can be just a tedious nightmare of a task. Taking the dogs out to go potty, you name it, has become a nightly routine that we do together while talking about whatever topic comes to mind. And while I truly didn't find that, not doing it some fifteen years ago bothered me for so many years, I just have in doing so that it's a way for me to show that I can be there for my wife who I care about, that's my person, or, you know, it's all I needed to know. And so now I've grown to really appreciate it, not only as a time that we can connect, but there are also times where she'll have other things going on. And I know, hey, this is something.

[00:15:08] I can do for her to show her that I care or that I love her and and I've also grown to really appreciate it. Kind of a quick thing about this to a global pandemic. Note often want to come down to go on an early morning run or get to the office before the crack of dawn. It is kind of funny now because I'm met with dishes out the Top Ramen package on the counter as my older kids and youngest is 16 and I have my 16 and 18 and 20 year older in the home right now. They're keeping some pretty odd hours. So that is something that we could clean it at 11:00 at night and then maybe at two or three, there's still these kitchen elves or kitchen fairies that are messing things up. So it's so much easier to kind of clean that up really quick because of having it clean the night before. But again, I am not some person that that grew up wanting or expecting this order, but I've come to really appreciate it. And that's why I like this article where Dr. Carter talks about this excess, excessive visual stimuli that removing that really can help feel a sense of calm or peace. And and and I know that it lowers the cortisol levels or the stress hormone levels. And and speaking of dishes, you know, I'm going to say that story and I hope I remember to get back to it. Dishes in the laundry.

[00:16:20] I want to say remind me of those. Let's put a pin in those. So there's there's Authors' there's a study and this is one that Aaron Cullom, the original article that I'm referring to, she references the authors of a study called No Place Like Home: How Home Tours Correlate with Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin noted the way people even describe their homes may reflect whether their time at home feels restorative or stressful. So I did go dig up that that study out of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. And this thing is fascinating and I won't go into too much detail here. I could put a link to this in the show notes as well. But I'll just read the abstract of this. This review, this study, the abstract is that the way people describe their homes may reflect whether their time at home feels restorative or stressful. And and I think this is fascinating. Are you going home and feeling like it is a restorative process or are you going home and feeling like it is a stressful process? So this article uses linguistic analysis software. So linguistic inquiry and word count to analyze 60 dual income spouses self guided home tours by calculating the frequency of words that describe clutter. A sense of the home is unfinished, restful words and nature words. So based on a principal component analysis, the former two categories were combined into a variable of a stressful home and the latter two into a restorative home.

[00:17:54] So over three week days following these home tours where people were describing their homes, wives with higher stressful home scores had here's the fun part had flatter diagonal slopes of cortisol, which happens to be a profile associated with adverse health outcomes. So people that took these home tours and described their homes as not being restorative or as being more as stressful, they had these flat or diurnal slopes of cortisol. So that that means that they had more more stress in their lives. And they felt that in describing their home, their home was full of clutter, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had steeper cortisol slopes. So these results held after controlling for marital satisfaction and neuroticism that women with higher stressful home scores had increased depressed mood over the course of the day, whereas women with higher restorative home scores had decreased depressed mood over the day. So that was this longitudinal, very nerdy sounding study that basically says when people feel like there is clutter in the home, that it can lead to more of a depressed mood over the course of the day. And women who felt like the home was more of a restorative place had decreased depressed mood over the day. So back to the article by your column. She says, I know what it's like to feel stressed out, feel like this UGH instead of a welcoming ahh when thinking about going home.

[00:19:16] And she said it was especially true when she lived in a small San Francisco studio apartment. So let me kind of refer now to this article that she had referred to, and this is by Sherrie Borg Carter, who has her doctorate in psychology. This is off of psychology today and it says, Why mess causes stress, eight reasons and eight remedies. So Dr. Carter then does go on to say clutter plays a significant role and how we feel about our homes and our workplaces and even ourselves, that messy homes and workspaces they do. They leave us feeling anxious, which somewhat can feel helpless and overwhelmed. And but yet rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives. So she goes over eight reasons of why mess leads to stress. So this is the one that was quoted in that previous article by Aaron Cullom. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, so visual, olfactory, tactile, so various stimuli that that can become a bit overwhelming. So this causes our senses to work over time on stimuli that isn't important or necessary. The second thing that she references is clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. And I think that's a pretty interesting one. Just just give yourself a little awareness exercise today and just notice just notice when you might be distracted by a pile of something or by just something that you remember that you maybe needed to do that had to do in the realm of cleaning the house or becoming more organized.

[00:20:49] Third, she says clutter makes it more difficult to relax both physically and mentally, forth clutter constantly signals to our brain that our work is never done. That one that one spoke to me. That one resonated with me because I feel like I often think I just need to clean my desk. I just need to clean this particular corner of the office. I need to clean my side of the bed. I need to clean my side of the bathroom. Those things that you can just tend to see have a little more clutter. The fifth thing she references clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile. And man, that one's true. I have a hidden pile of stuff in my office and it continues to grow. And I have told myself many times that I need to take an hour and go through it. But if after I read that number five here, that never quite sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile, I really felt that one, because I feel now like even my brain has said I just need to set aside a couple of hours and then even then I feel like it's probably gonna be a little bit longer than that. So there is this just great unknown. And if you've had the experience before where maybe once I jump into cleaning this this pile that I have, that it may not take as long, I mean, I really am kind of hoping that will be the case.

[00:22:02] But I understand this great unknown does cause a little bit of mental stress. Number 6, clutter creates feelings of guilt that I should be more organized. I can check that box as well. And embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes, our workspaces. So this secret pile that is in my office is not in plain sight of my clients. But every now and again, I'll have a client in my office and I maybe run to the restroom. And if they stand up and they're going over to look at my bookshelf, which I'm looking at right now, you can often see then where this secret stash of things are and it is embarrassing. And so I feel that one, that that clutter can create feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Number seven, clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm and problem solve. And so I think that just has a little bit of that, what I think of as clutter creep, where it creeps into all kinds of areas in visually, spatially. And then again, I think that that just kind of taxes our brains. And finally, she said the clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly. For example, files and paperwork lost in the pile or kee swallowed up by the clutter.

[00:23:11] I am one of those who likes to think that I know fairly well what is in my pile of stuff. But if I'm being very honest, vulnerable and authentic, then there are plenty of times where I have looked through my pile of stuff thinking I would find something and not finding what I thought had been there the entire time. So Dr. Carter says fortunately, unlike more other commonly recognized sources of stress, like our jobs or our relationships, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix. A little bit of hope there, right? That's a kind of a positive statement, she said if clutter's invaded your entire house.

[00:23:46] Don't tackle the job alone. Get the whole family involved by starting with one room everybody uses and making each person responsible for a section. If you're on your own, start with one area at a time and finished cluttering that area before moving on to another. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, as you will see your success little by little. And I think there's a whole podcast that could be done there in the little by little. If we really look at the way habits are formed, if we look at the way the brain works, we we often want these big home runs, these massive turnarounds and changes. And we will even hear those stories in the media or on TV or movies are made about these dramatic 180 swings and attitude and behavior. But the truth is, we just make a little bit of progress and we need to just be patient with the process. So we we need to view our accomplishment by little by little success. Number 2, create designated spaces for frequently used items and supplies. You can quickly and easily find what you're looking for when you need it. However, try to make these designated spaces closed spaces. I really like this one because I have one of these drawers in the kitchen, she said. Close spaces such as drawers and cabinets storing things on open shelves are on top of your desk does not remove those visual stimuli that create stress and lessen the amount of open space that your mind sees. So it's OK to have that drawer.

[00:25:06] I was going to say junk drawer, but. Let's just say it's a drawer of treasures, that's what I'm going to call my my drawer. Now, this is a good one.

[00:25:14] Number three, if you don't use it, don't want it or don't need it. Get rid of it. You can toss it. Recycle or donate it. And she loves one person's trash is another person's treasure. I have a friend of mine who says often that I bought it and now I'm just holding it, waiting for the person who actually needs it. And honestly, reframing that way can be amazing. So she says, but don't don't keep it. If you're if you're not using it, if you don't want it or you don't need it, don't keep it if you use it, but only rarely store it in a box in the garage or if it's in your office in a high or low place to leave easy access space for things that you use more often. And I really like this one. Put a date on the box with rare exceptions. If you haven't opened the box in a year, whatever is inside is probably not something you need. And I've heard some really clever ways to do this with clothing. One that I have tried a time or two is turning things that I haven't worn the turn of the hanger or on the other side. So it's it's kind of go opposite of how you normally take it off of the the rack or whatever that would be called. And if it is still turned that way for a long time, then you can probably get rid of that. You know, that means you haven't worn something like that in a long time. Number four, when you take something out of its designated place to use it, put it back immediately after you're finished with it. And I love how she said that sounds simple, but actually takes practice and commitment. I am very bad at that one that I'll just usually set things down and so that I can put them away later and then later doesn't often come create a pending folder.

[00:26:40] This is one that I am going to do to begin today. A pending folder helps you clear off your workspace while at the same time provide you with a readily accessible folder to centralize and easily locate pending projects. And I think this is what I need to do with with male or with kind of letters that I need to get back to or those sort of things. Number six, don't let papers pile up. Random paper strewn everywhere. Could be public enemy number one when it comes to stressful clutter, were inundated by mail and flyers and menus, memos, newspapers and the like. And the key is to be conscious of what you bring and what others bring into your spaces in this one.

[00:27:13] Oh, this is hard for me. It is so difficult for me to go through papers as soon as you can, tossing what you don't need and storing what's necessary in its proper place. I, I am horrible about just piling up mail to the point where then it does seem a bit of an insurmountable task. And I find that just if I can just open it and deal with it when I get it, it's so powerful and often my wife, bless her heart, will kind of just gently bring awareness to the ginormous pile of mail that might be sitting in a certain area of our house. And and when I tackle it, I feel awesome and amazing and I can't lie. There have been a few times where I have found things that that that I've been owed a little more on lately, things like that, because it's I didn't open it. I have to own it. It's on me. It's OK. What can you do? You open it, you move forward and you try to learn from that experience.

[00:28:00] Number seven, declutter your primary workspace before you leave it. It's normal to pull things out while you're working in a space, but make a habit of cleaning off your workspace before you go. Not only this, give you a sense of closure when you leave, but also makes you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space. And that kind of goes along with that story that I talked about earlier in in our home. And number eight, this one, bless her heart, Dr. Carter, make it fun. She says you're going about cleaning things out, put some on, put your favorite tunes on, and the more upbeat the better. Not only will you enjoy the tunes, the time will pass faster and you'll probably work faster than you would without the music. That one is a bit of a challenge for me of making cleaning and declaring fun. So if you're able to do that, more power to you. Bless your heart. I may try that, but I can't count on just some some some happy tunes are going to make me feel excited to to clean and declutter. So I love that she dresses.

[00:28:53] It's just finally, clutter doesn't only apply to our physical environment. Mental clutter can be just as stressful, if not more stressful than physical clutter. And boy, can I speak to this, although there is an entire article she said at least of suggestions about mental cluttering. One of the most basic and useful tips that she offers on mental declaring is to focus on one project at a time without distractions, distractions, being things like cell phones and emails and other electronic gadgets. And she says you'll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you focus on a project without allowing anything else to get in the way. And she says, Well, I realize and recognize it's hard to accomplish in this day and age. It's doable. And she says that she thinks that we will agree it is well worth the effort. Dr. Carter, you are absolutely correct. It is definitely worth the effort. As far as you know, a lot of times my ADHD inattentive type, formerly known as ADD, can sure get in the way when there are tasks that I truly want to focus on.

[00:29:46] I promise talking about two other concepts, the dishes and the laundry. I am going to I've long joked on doing an entire podcast on parenting and dishes and marriage and laundry.

[00:30:01] So let me just try to do this off the cuff and hopefully it won't kind of go south. And if it does, then I will have already. Deleted it and edited it, and you'll never hear this part and won't even know that you didn't hear it. So let's let's let's do the laundry first. So often I have let's say it's a it is let's say it's a stay at home mom and a dad and he's off slaying the dragon and at work and that sort of thing comes home. Hey, I'm exhausted, I'm tired and and I will hear complaints in my office. Often that and laundry isn't done and that sort of thing. And so it is such a simple solution for this. And that is my wife is amazing. She she's very intentional about two days a week that are laundry days. And and I really enjoy if I get home and it's later and we've just cleaned up, the house is kind of mentioned and then we just like to dump the laundry out on the bed that needs to be folded. And I help and we fold and we talk. And it's amazing. And I love being able to be there for her. And and, you know, when people do the whole well, I've worked and she needs to do it. And what's the goal? Is the goal to have this perfect equity in responsibilities or is the goal to have a productive marriage? You know, is the goal to have just this magnetic marriage, this this, you know, what's your goal? And that's why I love it.

[00:31:16] If the goal is a magnetic marriage, a connected marriage, then the. Yeah, but things aren't equal. Exactly. Fair. Who cares? It becomes a story. My brain's trying to hook me to, you know, this path of least resistance. My brain's trying to say, well, yeah, but it's not fair. It's kind of what we're I don't care. I would rather have the relationship with my wife and I have learned to fold the heck out of some laundry. I'm not good at matching socks. I have to constantly be reminded of how many Folds Beach towel has versus a bath towel. But it's OK. I'm trying and I just want to to be there as much as I can for my wife. And I really appreciate that. So that one's a one on laundry. What's your goal? Is your goal complete equity? Or she should do this because I do this? Or is your goal the relationship? Are you both turning toward each other and trying to help each other get through life? Because there's a lot going on in people's lives. And that is the goal of a of a connected marriage, of magnetic marriage, is to have this this just dyadic union is Sue Johnson, founder of EFT, talks about where you can go out and you can fight the battles and storms of the day and know you've got this safe haven where you can return and process the events of the day.

[00:32:23] You can talk to your partner about anything and and they'll know they'll know that that they're there for you. They want to hear what what's going on for you. They want to be there for you. They want to show up. How, how, how, how, how you want them to show up and you want to do the same for them. So there's laundry, the dishes. The reason I said dishes and parenting is and I'm not I'm not joking about this. I have spent probably dozens, if not 100 or more hours in therapy talking about people and parenting and the dishes. So if your goal is to have the dishes done perfectly every evening, then I highly suggest that either you maybe think about having that be your responsibility or I don't know if you could hire somebody to do the dishes on a daily basis. And I'm sounding a bit a bit mean maybe right now, because I know that a lot of parents are going to say right now. Yeah, but they need to learn responsibility and they need to learn, have a work ethic and those sort of things. And I am not disagreeing at all. As a matter of fact, please go take my parenting course. The positive parenting, even in a not so positive of times, the parenting technique that I love, it's an evidence based model and it's called the nurtured hard approach that nurtured her approach. Your job is to build inner wealth. Your job is not to be the punisher.

[00:33:40] Your role is not to be the enforcer. If you say to your kid at any point in your life, Hey, champ, you can come talk to me about anything and then you're going to get just all over him about the laundry or about the chore chart or that sort of thing. Then you you truly are taking on the role of the Punisher. And and so if you have chores and dishes and all those sort of things are part of chores, then I believe as parents that's those are opportunities for us to express unconditional love and to to really hear our kids. You know, if it's if their job is to do the dishes every night and they haven't done them, instead of going in guns blaring and saying, why are you doing this? Like, look at all that I've done for you. And and this is all I ask of you that is not going to set anybody up for success. Hey, you know, I see you're sitting over there, you know, how is your day? Tell me what's going on. And it's busy or, you know, they've had a rough day at school or work or whatever. First of all, don't respond back with it or you think that's hard. Try working forty hours or whatever it is, because that's not going to make the kid go. Oh, man, you're right. Let me come do those dishes Dad. But instead, you know, they want to be heard. It's like, hey, thanks for sharing that and even it's a I'm going to take care of these that I know the dishes are your job.

[00:34:57] I'm going to take care of them because it sounds like you've had a you've had a day. If you want to help, you can. But if not, I hear you. And I know I just made it sound so overly simplistic because. Right now, there might be some pattern, some kind of dug in negative patterns between, let's say, a kid and a parent, but but in the long run, you know, that is going to build this inner wealth or kind of nurture a good relationship. So, again, if your goal is to have the dishes done perfectly every evening, then then then you can still throw the the guilt or the shame, the kid or that sort of thing. If your goal is to have a relationship or to show your kid that, hey, I'm here, then I might suggest listening to that parenting course I did. And you can come up with, you know, some consequences or that sort of thing if if these jobs aren't done. But I would say before laying that hammer down the seek first to understand and show them that, hey, this can be a time where we could do this together or if you are overwhelmed, son or daughter, then I got your back and I'll take care of this and an offer. I feel like that is the way where you are.

[00:36:01] Your son or daughter is going to then see that you care about them and and that's when you're going to see them typically get off the couch at some point and go to help you. And so but I feel like a parent is almost afraid to kind of make that move or that commitment to say, hey, I got this. It looks like you've had a rough day and fear of that their kid is going to walk all over them. So, again, I've oversimplified a very intentional parenting technique that I believe needs to be in place. Go check out my parenting course. It's based off of the nurtured heart approach. But those two things, dishes and laundry. If your goal is to have the dishes done, then you know, you're going to probably upset the relationship that you're trying to have with your kids or your teenager. If your goal is to have the laundry or a complete equity in the home, then then, yeah, sure. Then you can double down on you. Well, I refuse to do the laundry and, you know, I'm going to say, look at what you're going to get from that. It's not going to be a connected marriage or that sort of thing. Those are my two cents. And I know I've spoken many times about those in the context of parenting with the nurtured heart approach or couples communication through this emotionally focused therapy model. And again, about to come out with a marriage course that is going to address a lot of these things. All right. I have rambled. I hope this has been a helpful episode. It has helped me from a standpoint of what clutter can do to kind of just bring it brings those stress levels up in our brain and we want to kind of lower those stress levels so we can be more attentive, more present, more positive and all of the things that we do. Have a wonderful weekend.

[00:37:35] I will see you next time on the virtual couch

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