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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Lagnese

Cleaning Out Your Mental Health Closet

Remember cleaning your room as a kid? The grunting, the annoyance, the inconvenience, the stomping down the hallway to your bedroom followed by a door slam. Just me?

Let me set the scene-

You were told you could not go play with your friends until your room was cleaned. You could hear the kids outside riding bikes and playing kickball. You needed to get this done as fast as you could so you wouldn’t miss out on any of the neighborhood fun. So what did you do? Why of course you proceeded to shove all of your toys, clothes, and trash into your closet, desperately hoping your parents wouldn’t find out. Not more than 30 minutes later you were being called inside and grounded for a week for not doing what your parents asked you to do. You should have known your parents were going to check the old closet trick and just took the time to clean the room the right way. 1 hour of cleaning would have been better than 1 week of grounding am I right?

I find as adults we still do this. It’s not toys or clothes we hide. Instead, it’s our bad habits, our addictions, our jealousy, our bitterness, and our mental health. We are often desperate to present perfection and keep up with appearances. When our life gets messy we tend to go straight to our closet, frantically shoving our crap inside until we emerge as perfectly neatly folded versions of ourselves.

But who is that serving? Certainly not you. Certainly not your Instagram followers who feel inadequate because they are not as “put together” as you. Surly not your family and friends who love you. It’s really false advertising which only leads to more lies and more pressure. I can tell you firsthand that you can only hide that messy closet for so long. Those doors will eventually bust open and it won’t be pretty.

So what are we to do? Great question and I may just have a few ideas! As always, these tips and tricks are things that work for me. Hopefully, a few will resonate with you too.

First and foremost, let’s get honest. Integrity matters and losing trust after you have been caught in a lie, well that’s not fun. Been there myself a time or two. I assure you, you can’t outrun the truth.

Let’s ditch the social media highlight reel already. I’d say a good 75% is made up, embellished, and/or photoshopped. I try to focus on positive pages to follow. OH and animal reels too! I mean how can you can possibly be in a bad mood after watching adorable kitten videos?!

Let’s surround ourselves as best we can with supportive family and friends, people who lift us up instead of criticizing and tearing us down. No, we can’t pick our family but we sure can pick our friends AND we are fully capable of setting boundaries with any toxic family members.

Let’s be mindful and aware of our mental health. That looks like seeking therapy when needed and taking medication prescribed properly. We can work on being more honest when we enter a hard season and need a little extra help. Help, that’s a big one. ASK FOR HELP!

Let’s take time for ourselves, making sure we are not just taking care of everyone else, ignoring ourselves and our needs. Plan a date night or a fun girls' weekend away. Splurge a little on that mani/pedi you have been wanting or that heavenly massage you have been daydreaming of. We can’t be the best version of ourselves running on fumes.

Let’s take occasional mental health days to rest and rejuvenate. For me, that looks like a day of doing absolutely nothing but binge-watching tv, napping with my cat, and eating ice cream OUT of the container. When Ben and Jerry call, you answer!

Let’s stay active and find exercises we enjoy. I love taking walks and connecting with nature. Sometimes a simple walk can turn your whole day around. I have recently started working out at Orange Theory Fitness too and while I haven’t seen much change yet with my body, I can tell a huge change in my mood and self-esteem. One step at a time!

Let’s ditch the diet bandwagon already. Been there done that. S T O P crash dieting. It wreaks havoc on your metabolism, trust me I know! If you want to see real and lasting results put in the work. Cutting corners and popping diet pills may seem like a logical way to see fast results BUT quick fixes will not produce long-term results. I practice the 80/20 rule. I really wish I would have listened to this advice years ago.

Let’s establish a morning routine. Most mornings I do a gratitude and affirmation practice. I also try to fit in some reading and meditation. And coffee, I mean that’s happiness in a cup!

My last and final piece of advice is to stay organized. This is also one of my top happiness hacks. My space is sacred. I could not personally thrive in a chaotic environment. People often wonder how I keep my house tidy with little humans running around. I’m big into personal responsibility, even for my children. This is their house too so they are expected to do their part in helping keep it clean and picked up. Contrary to popular belief, my house isn’t perfectly kept. Dust does collect on our tables. Not all the dirty clothes make it into the hamper. Sometimes our dishwasher smells because I didn’t rinse off the dishes well enough. We are far from perfect but we do all take pride in our home and our possessions.

Ladies, let’s get to cleaning and organizing! I want to encourage you to slowly open up those closet doors and begin cleaning them out. Let’s take ownership of our junk already. Let’s say our apologies. Let’s start to rip the Band-Aid off and actually heal the wounds. Let’s extend grace to others and perhaps even help them clean out their closets too so they can start enjoying REAL life again. Yes, it takes hard work, but I can assure you it’s much harder to live a life of shame and regret. Choose your hard wisely. Don’t let the dang closet swallow you whole, just clean it out already! The time is now.

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