Staying Organized to Reduce Stress
Nothing stresses me out faster than not being able to find something. I know this is more of an issue for me today than it was 8 years ago because now I have multiple sclerosis (MS) to show me how terrible stress can be, but I guess not being able to find my car keys always did really get under my skin.
Losing items drove me crazy
I mean, I was the guy who, upon reaching for the TV remote and realizing that it wasn’t in its designated spot, would start slowly tearing the room apart and throwing couch pillows around, flipping over furniture, and dumping out junk drawers. I might have eventually not even wanted to watch TV anymore, but the simple idea that I didn’t know where the remote was would bug me so much that I couldn’t just forget about it! I had to find it! It was like a splinter in my brain, a dull pain that I couldn’t ignore, a pain that served as a constant reminder that I didn’t know where something was, a pain that wouldn’t go away until I found whatever it was that I was looking for.
Saving my already limited energy
Luckily, I have since learned to (usually) just take a deep breath, say, “whatever,” and assume that whatever it is that I am looking for will eventually turn up. I just don’t have the energy to spend time stressing out over where something could possibly be hiding anymore. But now, for reasons mostly related to my MS, not being able to find something can cause me a great deal of distress unrelated to me merely going crazy over not knowing where something is.
Stressing and searching the house can disrupt my whole day
For example, not knowing if I can’t find something because my vision is extra terrible at the moment? That’s a type of stress and frustration that I had never dealt with before MS. Spending time stressing out and searching the house for something requires me to spend so much of my very limited energy that I was already planning on using for some other activity. Me not being able to find something when I need it can really disrupt my schedule and just how much I can accomplish in a day. So, the best way I have found to prevent this is to get organized and maintain a series of habits that will help me avoid being unable to find something.
Everything I own has a spot
Everything. Because my vision is not always the best (especially when the room is spinning), I literally want to be able to reach for something with my eyes closed and grab it. My goal is to know where something is without even having to actually look first. It’s like when the doctor asks you to close your eyes and touch your nose: if I need a pen, I want to be able to reach for one by simply knowing where it should be in relation to wherever I am, just like we are supposed (keyword supposed) to be able to know where our nose is. As you can imagine, I keep a pretty well-arranged environment to enable this, but obviously, I can’t keep it all up 24/7. It’s just unrealistic, especially when MS wears me out so often.
How I stay organized
So usually, my bedroom is where you can really see how organized I try to be. Everything is together in little groups of either whatever it is (pens with pens, USB cables with USB cables, medication with medication, etc.) or whatever it goes with (photography stuff, magazines, pads of paper, etc.) and all those groups of things are neatly displayed in their designated spots. The first time one of my friends saw my room, he said that everything looked very “OCD,” and I suppose, when everything is nice and tidied up the way it’s supposed to be, that’s actually a pretty accurate description. Especially when you consider all the color-coded sticky notes around my desk, the delicately stacked pads of paper organized by stationary type on a bookshelf, and of course, the neatly organized bulletin board on my wall which always features a monthly calendar of events, my latest lab results, and lot of business cards containing essential names and phone numbers.
It's worth it to stay organized
I guess I would say that it’s easier to find something in a super neat and organized space than it is in a super messy, haphazardly arranged area. It might take a lot of work to get and stay organized, but (to me) it’s far less work than if I had to constantly wonder where something is. I don’t care if people think I’m a crazy neat-freak because keeping organized like this makes it easier for me to find what I need when I need it. That means I work up less stress and waste less energy on household expeditions in any given day. So, to me? It’s well-worth the effort it takes to stay organized.
Do you find that keeping organized makes certain aspects of life with MS a little easier? Share your thoughts, experiences, and strategies below!
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?