Highly Sensitive Refuge
A highly sensitive person relaxes after decluttering and simplifying.

4 Ideas for Highly Sensitive People to Declutter and Simplify

My highly sensitive soul craves quiet. It craves simplicity, slowness, and white space. I get overstimulated when there’s too much in my environment to process. I purposefully seek simple and slow to soothe my sensitive nature.

Although my journey to simplifying and slowing down has been more pronounced over the last few years, I’ve always been drawn to less — particularly in my physical surroundings. I find cluttered spaces overwhelming and feel the need to withdraw if there’s too much going on around me.

And I’ve spent far too long running on the “hamster wheel” of busyness, which only served to increase my anxiety. As a highly sensitive person, I need less. Less in my physical environment, and less on my calendar.

4 Ways to Declutter and Simplify

If you’re a highly sensitive person, here are four ideas to help you declutter your home and simplify your life.

1. Get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.

If you’re like me, and find a cluttered environment anxiety-provoking, you might benefit from taking some time to reset your surroundings.

By this I mean really thoroughly going through your home and removing any items that you don’t use regularly or don’t like. Clutter attracts clutter, so if you haven’t done this for a while, it might take a full day (or week) to work through each room.

You can start small (my personal favorite), with one little space, maybe your laundry or junk drawer, and work methodically through. Remove rubbish, find homes for things, and maybe consider a better system if you are constantly battling to keep a space free of clutter.

Or you could go big and try a packing party. This is where you pack up everything in your house — except the absolute essentials — then unpack things as you need them. Whatever you haven’t unpacked in 21 days can be donated. When Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists did this, 80 percent of his belongings was still boxed up at the end of 21 days.

Try adopting the one-minute rule. If we are really honest with ourselves, clutter often accumulates because of laziness. The one-minute rule helps combat this, if you make it a habit.

The one-minute rule is simple: Whatever you see lying around your house, if it takes 60 seconds or less to put away, do it. It took me 11 seconds to fold my clothes and put them away in a drawer last night instead of leaving them in a pile next to my bed.

2. Minimize your schedule.

My default answer for almost anything used to be “yes.” Not anymore. I’m a former over-committer. It’s a bit like seeing a buffet filled with delicious food. You pile up your plate, then half way through eating, you realize the limitations of your stomach!

This was my approach to my calendar. Fill it full to the brim. Yes, yes, yes! It was all wonderful and nutritious, so why not? I didn’t realize that my highly sensitive nature had limitations and the consequences of not respecting them would be stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Now when I’m asked to do something, I give myself 48 hours to mull the request over. If I decide it’s something I can fit onto my plate, I get in touch with the person. I’d rather take my time saying yes than have to let someone down later.

3. Create an HSP-friendly haven.

We can do lots of work to declutter our physical belongings and our calendars, but it won’t always be perfect — especially if you live with other people. Sure, there are values and systems I can teach my family to try to keep on top of mess and over-scheduling, but at the end of the day, they are responsible for their own choices. Messes will get made and I’ll be too tired to clean them up.

This is why I start each day with a sweep of my bedroom. Bed made, clothes away, surfaces clear. I need my bedroom to be a haven to escape to. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated, spending just 10 minutes in there can help recharge me for the rest of the day.

4. Immerse yourself in nature.

One of the quickest fixes for me when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to head to the beach or the forest for a bit. I find nature incredibly soothing and such a contrast to a messy, chaotic home environment.

Spending time surrounded by birds and trees brings me to a place of calm and helps me go slower. Mother nature is slow, she doesn’t rush, and her pace of life can have a huge positive impact on us if we let it.

We highly sensitive people need quiet and stillness to operate at our best. I’m happiest when I’m meandering instead of rushing. For me, inviting more slow and simple into my life has been the most powerful tool for thriving as an HSP.

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