All Junk N Haul


Stress And Hoarding

Many of us know what it means to hold on to items of value: our grandparents’ pictures; our children’s drawings; an important newspaper article. These items and other tokens of memories can help us retain a clear picture of the past—an event or experience that we feel defines us and our outlooks. We tie emotions and beliefs into the things that we can touch. Sometimes we can explain the connection we share with these items, and sometimes we can’t.


Generally speaking, our bodies are capable of responding to a variety of stress-inducers. Depending on the person experiencing the stress and the cause of it, several types of stress exist to test our human design. As a result, stress can come in different forms and may require different approaches when addressing or recognizing it.

Stress brought on by rapid changes in our lives can vary by the severity of the change: divorce; job loss; unable to locate your favorite sweater, etc. A more severe and observable type of stress is known as traumatic stress. Here, a larger-scale event such as war or natural disaster or assault can force us into another state that our bodies intend to use as a coping mechanism. Although there are certainly cases where additional assistance is required in order to overcome them, people tend to recover from these two types of stress eventually.

Routine stress comes from a seemingly continual encounter with stress-inducer(s). Many times, we cannot avoid these encounters as they’re an essential part of our lives: work; school; family; sociopolitical circumstances, etc. In these cases, stress management techniques are invaluable. Taking up a hobby or safe outlet allows us to better accept the things we cannot change and to introduce a helpful balance to our lives. Because we’re able to assess the stress-inducers and conclude that acceptance is the best way forward, we can decidedly move on. We no longer need to allow these inducers to play a role in determining our circumstances. However when we refuse to, or cannot, be objective in our assessments, we’ll begin our bodies’ prolonged trial of enduring harmful stress-related effects over a long period of time. And because we defer to suffering through the symptoms rather than addressing them, our bodies will never receive the all-clear signal it expects in order to begin returning function levels to normalcy.

Some symptoms manifest in the following forms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Indecisiveness
  • Panic attacks

Stress has the ability to change more than our emotional or mental state. The effects of stress can manifest in the physical, as well. Some symptoms include the following:

  • Chest pain/racing heartbeat
  • Sleep issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Weak immune system
  • Gastrointestinal problems

What becomes an important task is determining what stress is necessary and unavoidable versus what stress we needlessly endure. If we’re called to make important decisions during our day-to-day challenges then stress can be helpful, if burdensome. Stress can be a sign that we’re preparing for a big task we must undertake or an event we must undergo. The “fight-or-flight” response is one well-known and good example of stress as a “good” thing. Without the burst of energy or mental processing capability that comes hand-in-hand with the signs of stress, we would be at a loss. The downside to our bodies’ natural responses is that we can take for granted the signs of stress, even though a deeper look would reveal that there is something we can and must do to change our circumstances before the stress has the ability to make a lasting impact.


Hoarding has the attribute of being both a source of stress, and mechanism for coping. Living a lifestyle that facilitates hoarding tendencies can stand in the way of a helpful and honest assessment of what we can do to remove unnecessary stress from our lives. Though the causes of hoarding have yet to be pinned down, its effects are not so elusive. Common symptoms and disorders can develop in the following ways:

  • Extreme stress about throwing out items
  • Uncertainty about where to put things
  • Living in unusable spaces due to clutter
  • Anxiety about needing items in the future
  • Distrust of others touching possessions
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

We can see how certain symptoms may bring other symptoms and effects: as we deal with the stresses that come with hoarding, we also affect the physical world around us which can weigh us down with more stress. A cycle then develops, and we start to lose sight of the healthy balance we need.

Remembering that the excess of anything can be a gateway to the unhelpful shaping and maintaining of an objective mind will help us in living a life free from clutter. Peace of mind comes from a clean and safe environment.

Always remember to reach out to medical professionals for help when needed.