I knew I would never smoke again when I had the most stressful few months (putting my childhood dog to sleep, tearing my ACL and nixing my chance of earning a black belt, and hitting rock bottom with my anxiety) and realizing afterwards that it had never even occurred to me at the time to have a cigarette. At some unknown point there had been a shift in my thinking and coping process.
I may have just experienced another shift in thinking.
I have been following the UnFuck Your Habitat blog and implementing some of the challenges and methods about house cleaning. I used to marathon clean which would feel really good when I was in the mood for a day of cleaning, and the result would be wonderful! But when I wasn't in the mood for cleaning I just wouldn't do anything, and the house would turn into a disaster. Having a messy house makes my anxiety go up, and my depression is linked to my anxiety, and my depression makes me want to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling all day. That is a bad, bad cycle to get into.
The idea of UfYH is to do what you can, that it is better to do just a little bit than nothing at all, and that a clean house requires maintenance. My goal when Hailey moved out was to get the kitchen counters cleaned off, to keep them that way, and to do my dishes every day so that there were never dirty dishes in the sink. I have now reset my way of thinking around what constitutes an 'acceptable' kitchen. (Disclaimer: this means acceptable for me in my house. I don't judge other people!) I now know that no matter what the mess is in the kitchen, it will take less than 20 minutes to clean it up. The greatest thing about this, though, is that I have that same feeling as I would after marathoning, but I get to feel it every day. Every single morning I walk into my kitchen and I feel happy, satisfied, and not anxious. And I know that it is maintainable because I have been doing it since November.
Example of what it would look like on a daily basis before:
What it looks like now:
Have there been hiccups? Yes. There have been days when I have left dishes in the sink, and crap all over the counters. There has been recycling left sitting for days before making it out to the bin. Where Maia eats is always a disaster zone because she slurps her Nupro and spatters it everyone. (H likened it to a murder scene lol.) But those days are getting less and less frequent.
My latest achievement was clearing off one of my 'invisible corners'. These are the spaces in your house that you put stuff and then stop noticing that it is there. (You'll notice that it is strategically not included in the 'after' picture above.) I didn't think to take a before picture but imagine odds and ends, medicine bottles, papers, and some food boxes covering this section of counter. And now, after last night, it looks like this:
It was the last part of the kitchen counters to be unfucked. Last night I was feeling really stressed and anxious about work stuff and cleaning things gives me a feeling of control so I did some random unfucking. Now that it's clear I think it should be easy to maintain it because it is just a part of the kitchen as a whole.
You can see part of one of my bookshelves in the background. Those are on the list to get unfucked too!
The other shift in my thinking is that idea that doing just a little bit. Today I had less than five minutes before I had to leave for work. I swept my bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen in that time (and wow was there a lot of sand from our beach adventure yesterday!). I still need to vacuum, and the living room desperately needs to be steam mopped but it's better than it was. And all those little bits are adding up to a house that makes me happy and proud to live in.