One day last week I felt a dreaded cycle of anxiety coming on. You know how it goes. One small thought gets stuck in your mind, then it sticks and grows until you’re buried under it and you can’t get out. I call it the thought-valanche because it’s an avalanche in the mind. (I talk more about this in my Pause Book).
I can’t even remember what that trigger thought was, but I do remember that I was starting to feel anxiety coming on; the let-me-out-of-here, squirming discomfort under my skin, I’m-alone-in-the-desert kind of panic.
ANXIETY, NEGATIVE THINKING, AND WORRYING
That one tiny negative thought started snowballing through my brain and wouldn’t stop it. It was late at night so the thought of getting in my car wasn’t an option. Neither was going to sleep. But I was in the kitchen cleaning up after a big meal.
THE MAGICAL MOMENT
That’s when it happened. It was a magical moment. I started cleaning harder and deeper. Deep into the cracks and crevices I went, around my stove top with a toothpick, gathering all the crumbs of leftover food from the past year. I took a cleaning brush and started poking it into the corners of the cabinets. I cleared the counters of all unnecessary items. I cook and bake a lot but I don’t use all the spoons in the utensil holder. So, I hid them in an easy to reach cabinet below. After about an hour, my kitchen was gorgeous and I was calm. I went to bed and slept soundly through the night.
Believe me, this is not the way I normally clean. But once I started there was something calming and mind clearing about the process. I was on a roll, it felt good, and I was doing something productive that needed to be done.
I like things clean, but I’m not neat, and I don’t like to spend my time putting things away. I have piles of papers, receipts, business cards (yes, people still use them, coupons, Macy’s reward cards, old newspaper articles, to-do lists, calendars, and mail in every corner of my kitchen.
ADHD CLEANING (or not)
If you have ADHD, cleaning (or putting things away) is not a priority in your day. Laundry doesn’t get done on a regular basis, and when it finally does, it stays in baskets (which now become your drawers). Why bother putting it away if you’re going to wear it soon?
From that magical moment on, I decided to change my attitude, thoughts, and opinion of cleaning, organizing, and putting things away. Cleaning up and I are going to have a happier, healthier relationship.
At first, I felt a little OCDish. Was I using rituals to calm obsessive thoughts? But then I remembered Mr. Miyagi’s words in the Karate Kid; “Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important,” No, it’s mindfulness. I realized that I was in the middle of a spiritual awakening. Cleaning was good for my soul.
That’s when I fell in love with my sparkly, shiny, clutter-free kitchen. Next week, I’m tackling those paper piles.
Want to join me?
COACHING QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO ANSWER:
- What inspires you to clean up?
- Do you think cleaning will calm you?
- Are you willing to give it a try?
- What will help you get started?
Are you curious about ADHD Coaching? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to find out how it can help you.
Hi June –
I am a certified ADHD/OCD cleaner. In fact, I always assumed I DID NOT have ADHD (unlike my dad and brother) because I was perennially tidying (unlike my numerous messy-ADHD friends). I have shared the gospel of tidying/uncluttering many times with my fellow ADHD peeps, but I haven’t done a very good job of converting them. Without a tidy environment, my anxiety and distractedness run amok. So I am VERY happy for you that you have also discovered this secret. It doesn’t heal or cure anything, but as far as self-medicating goes, I highly recommend it. Thanks for sharing!