De-cluttering is not always easy

Melissa Lamontagne/Sérénité Cleaning Solutions


Spring is here! For most, this means time for de-cluttering, organizing and cleaning! However, this simple and routine process can be extremely difficult to persons that struggle with hoarding tendencies or a Hoarding Disorder. Not only can it create an immense feeling of anxiety, but it can even be traumatizing to the individual in question.

Hoarding is defined by the collection of many items, the immense difficulty of discarding items that no longer serve a purpose and the lack of organization or space permitting organization. These problems can lead to significant amounts of clutter which can severely limit the use of living spaces, pose safety hazards and/or health risks, and result in significant distress and/or impairment in day-to-day living. The Hoarding Disorder is frequently affiliated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Schizophrenia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dementia, and Diogenes Syndrome (not yet recognized in the DSM_V).

If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding tendencies or is diagnosed with a Hoarding Disorder, here are different tips that might help during this up-coming spring season. That being said, please note that each individual is unique and they have all gotten to their current circumstance for a variety of contributing factors therefore these are general recommendations that may be of some assistance.

De-cluttering and organizing

• Invite a supportive friend or family member to be there to help you through the process. Be careful of who you pick as your support person. You don’t want someone who will put you down or judge you, but you also don’t want someone that won’t challenge you a little.

• If possible, depending on the amount of clutter, start with storage areas (cupboards, closets, basement storage, etc.).

• Know your limits. A little bit of anxiety can be healthy, but too much can create intense prolong fear. It doesn’t have to be done all in the same day or week.

• Practice relaxation and grounding techniques on an on-going basis. Practice the techniques that feel good for you until they become natural and instinctive. This will make it much easier for you to de-clutter your home when you become anxious.

– Deep breath

– Visualizations

– Meditation

– Listening to music

– Taking a nature walk

– Art

– Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping)

– Journaling

– Yoga

– Positive affirmation

• Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to a doctor, counselor, or therapist. Debriefing your experience can be healthy.

• Don’t be too hard on yourself. It doesn’t have to be perfect and some days will be better than others. Validate your feelings and be compassionate with yourself.

• Remind yourself why you have chosen to begin this process.

• Consider the possibility of hiring a company who specialize in Hoarding to work one-on-one with you, in order to create a clean, organized and safe environment.

Remember that you are not alone and that there is help in our community to support you through this process. If you have any questions, I invite you to consult the Sérénité Cleaning Solutions’ website ( or contact me directly at 705.207.1976 or


— Melissa Lamontagne is Hoarding Practitioner – SSW, Sérénité Cleaning Solutions