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Organizing to reduce stress

By Chris Schutz, Staff Writer Modified: November 14, 2008 at 1:27 pm •  Published: November 14, 2008
People caught up in the rat race of contemporary life have forgotten about the J-word: Joy.

That’s a common denominator for stressed, overwhelmed people they have advised, said two professional organizers and a marriage and family therapist.

“Think about what gives you joy,” professional organizer Shannon Cowan said she tells her clients. The advice fits anything in a person’s life — from personal belongings to activities, she said.

Cowan, whose business is in the Stillwater area, said her own career is an example of that. She left a career as a molecular biologist because she realized her job kept her locked in a windowless room all day with no one to talk to. She now helps people make room in their lives for things they enjoy.

For some people, belongings prevent them from doing things they like. “They bring things in that don’t fit the need of their space,” Cowan said.

Inherited antiques are an example. “Just because it was somebody else’s doesn’t mean that it needs to be yours,” Cowan said.

The expense of hiring a cleaning service may be worth it for people who hate to clean, Cowan said.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a cluttered house, said Oklahoma City professional organizer Ann Hussong. Some clients say, “if I could get my house cleaned up, then everything else will fall into place,” she said.

For some people, making a schedule may help them resolve the issue of having a cluttered house, she said. She advises setting aside 15 minutes a day to get rid of “stuff.”

Organizer Cowan encourages people to make sure they dedicate time and space for activities they enjoy.

She also urges people to consider how they’re using their time. “If you spent a whole week planning a birthday party and you didn’t have that much fun, you didn’t plan your time well.”

Some clients are parents who shuttle their children from activity to activity.

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