I have to come right out and say that I am not a health/medical professional. My professional organizer/non-medical professional opinion is that lack of energy is definitely a health issue. A serious one.
Lack of energy can have many root causes including depression, improper diet, and not getting enough rest/sleep. The list I linked to is not exhaustive by any means. I’ve dealt with many issues that have contributed to a lack of energy in my life: anxiety, overwhelm, depression, boredom, hopelessness (that “why bother?” feeling). I’ve also dealt with disorganization. I’ve always had trouble determining what came first in this chicken-egg situation. Do I have no energy because I am depressed? Am I depressed because my house is disorganized? Am I disorganized because I am depressed? Am i disorganized because I am simply too tired to put anything away? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
I have no quick-fix answer to offer you. I can’t tell you which came first for you. We are all different. I know, for example, that my nature is not to be disorganized. I have never been anal about it, but growing up, my room would get messy (as most kid’s rooms do), but I also enjoyed creating a place for things. I loved organizing my books by creating my own personal library system. I loved boxes, tins, and bins. I loved my Barbie motor home because I could neatly store all my dolls inside of it after taking them on another high speed adventure, running from the FBI. I loved Hawaii Five-0, 21 Jump Street, and The X-Files as a kid, and someone was always running. So sue me!
Somewhere along the way, disorganization made its way into my life. It didn’t feel right. I spent years struggling with depression. That definitely did not feel right. I was too tired to do anything or try anything. I was too tired for work, too tired for therapy, too tired to read, too tired to clean. I will share with you what I know and what I recommend.
If you are disorganized and (1) can’t quite pinpoint the root cause or (2) don’t have the energy to fix things, try the following
- Think about what you would do with your life, time, and space if clutter wasn’t holding you back. Don’t do this as an afterthought. Seriously take stock of your life. What can you do in the moment that gets you closer to what you want? Maybe you need to have a yard sale. Maybe you need to skip that lunch on Saturday to stay home and purge your closet. Perhaps today you clean out your junk drawer and tomorrow your glove compartment.
- Go back as far as you can remember: when did you first notice signs of disorganization. Did you grow up in a house that was a mess? Was it after your mother died? After a bad break up? After you moved to a new city? Remembering when it started can often help you figure out what went wrong. Perhaps you need to develop your coping skills to deal with life changes.
- Ask friends or family to help you. Set aside a couple of hours where they come in and help you move through your things.
- Ask a Professional Organizer to help you. Of course, I think I’m great because I been through all this and know where my clients are coming from. But find the one that fits you. If motivation and lack of energy is an issue for you, find an organizer who can be sensitive to those issues. If my clients become crotchety or I feel them moving into overwhelm, I bring the session to a close. I’ve had clients had breakdowns or panic attacks because they felt it was all too much to deal with. We will not be productive if they hate me, hate themselves, are crying, or are too distracted to get anything done. So we got half an hour of work in – that’s half an hour that we wouldn’t have had if I was not there to help you.
- Figure out what your mood and energy boosters are. Utilize them to help give you the push you need to work on your project.
If you know that you have no energy or are depressed because of your disorganization, combat that negativity by changing your habits. I’ve seen people who became ashamed of their homes, which caused them to become depressed and retreat from others. A friend of mine can’t stand to be around clutter. If her room gets messy, it stresses her out. If your house is cluttered, she can’t visit you. You’ll have to meet up for dinner somewhere. Mess makes her stressed and makes her feel physically ill. By bringing order to her home, she keeps her mind clear and calm. If she allowed the clutter to build, her stress would increase. Her life would be a mess. Don’t allow a cycle to form. Read books, ask for help, attend workshops, get an organizer. Do what you can to bring harmony and happiness to your space.
Lack of Energy:
If you lack energy all the time, and not just when you think about cleaning or organizing your home or office, then it would probably be good to see a medical professional. Get a full check up. Talk with your physician about how you feel. Take note of when your energy is high and when it is incredibly low. Your doctor might suggest a wide variety of things including getting enough sleep and cultivating better sleep hygiene. You could be anemic. Perhaps you are lacking certain vitamins. Maybe a change in diet is in order.
Get the scoop on lack of energy from WrongDiagnosis.com
Depression, Anxiety, Overwhelm, etc
Seek help from a source outside of yourself. If you’ve tried battling it on your own and you have not succeeded, please proceed by trying other options. I’ve been a reader since I came out of my mother’s womb, but reading books on depression didn’t help me one bit. They gave me a headache. I couldn’t finish them and was too depressed to return them, so I incurred late fees at the library, which made me more depressed, and so on…
Do not shut yourself away. That will not help. There are many options. Try taking a yoga class. Attend a group meditation session. Sitting in silence with Quakers helped bring some balance to my life one difficult summer. I still fantasize about going back. Try group therapy (this list is a detailed one for the Los Angeles area – perhaps there is one for yours).
Find a therapist you can talk to. Try a couple on for size. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free initial consultation. Find a fit for you. Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. I felt a little guilty about it at first, but a few years ago when I was searching for a therapist, I wanted something specific. It had to be a woman. She had to be under 50. She had to be stylish, but not terribly so. She had to seem friendly. I did not want to talk about certain things with a man, however qualified he might be. I wanted someone younger, yet qualified so that she was not totally removed from what someone in my generation was dealing with and exposed to. I didn’t want her to be out of touch with 2006, but I didn’t want her to look so amazingly put together that I felt like a slob in her presence. I didn’t want someone cold and clinical. That was me. I had an ex boyfriend who had trouble seeing male counselors because of issues he had talking to his own father about personal things. He also preferred a female therapist who wasn’t “young and hot.” Understandable. There are enough therapists out there that you should be able to find what you need.
If you feel that antidepressants or other psychotropic substances might help you, find a psychiatrist to talk to. As a person who only takes Tylenol when she feels like she’s going to die, this would personally be my last resort – especially with the knowledge that some antidepressants can cause suicidal feelings in some people. No need to make things worse than they are. I am always willing to try other things first – exercise, vitamins, diet, sleep, changing my habits, changing who I spend time with, etc. Some people say Prozac saved their lives. If you do try these drugs, give them time to work. Most likely you will not feel any difference in a week. People I have spoken to who’ve taken antidepressants said (1) they took about a month to kick in and (2) when they did kick in, they didn’t even notice. One person, a close friend of mine who was on Prozac over 10 years ago, remarked that she didn’t think the drug was working because she just felt “normal.” She felt okay. That’s when she realized it was working for her – the drug wasn’t supposed to make her feel high as a kite.
If you find that lack of energy or depression is what causes your disorganization, do what you can to solve those issues. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to tackle your physical clutter when your brain is so clutter that you don’t even want to get out of bed. Getting organized is not easy for everyone. I’ve had several clients who worked with me while they were in therapy or working with life coaches. Once you feel better mentally, you feel more motivated to seek help from an organizer, or to do it on your own. You are more equipped to start the project and push through. Things seem less unbearable.
If you have trouble figuring out which issue came first, like I did, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Try organizing a room of your house. See how your mood improves. Do you have a panic attack as you approach the room? A therapist might be in order. Explain your issues. Your therapist might be able to help you figure out when these issues started. Once you have a deeper understanding, you can move forward accordingly.
If you have any questions, I am always open to sharing my experience. You can email me at alaia [at] oneorganizedlife [dot] com.
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