I love this term, which I heard a few years ago. It’s the concept of feeling suffocated by the stuff we have around us.

Just recently I’ve suffered with stuffocation. My house felt like it was bulging at the seams with the amount of ‘stuff’ that I’d gradually and suddenly accumulated. Every room had things lying on the floor or piled with boxes. I couldn’t relax because everywhere I looked there was something that needed moving or dealing with.

We accumulate a surprisingly large amount of stuff

Like everyone I’d gradually accumulated ‘stuff’ from general life processes – studying, hobbies, work-related paraphernalia. However, over a period of only a couple of months I’d received a large amount of items in one go:

  • my cousin moved in with her fella and gave me some of her excess possessions
  • my grandparents died and I chose to take some of their things (some reminders of them and other more practical items)
  • I sold my campervan and it’s surprising how much stuff I had in there that now needs a new home in my house


Boxes piled high in room

We accumulate a lot of stuff while going through life

Not only do these things take up physical space but they can take up emotional space too. We often associate possessions with memories – particular people or experiences. Possessions may link to our identity; who we are or how we see ourselves. This is why it can be so difficult to let go sometimes.

However, I had got to a point where I had to do something. Seeing all these things made the house feel cluttered and it was draining me of energy. I found it hard to focus on my work because I was aware of things that needed doing.

Time to do something

Starting slowly I tackled one area at a time. I got rid of things that I didn’t need any more – taking things to the charity shop, selling things, giving things to friends or recycling. I organised my wardrobes and cupboards to store things more appropriately. I went through old paperwork, shredding or recycling, which I always find satisfying; I literally feel a weight lift off my shoulders.

Some things have been harder to get rid of than others. For example, getting rid of some of my outdoor gear meant I was letting go of a previous part of my life. However, it helped lessen the impact by acknowledging that someone else would benefit instead.

I still have a long way to go but I’m getting there slowly. Sometimes I set a timer for 30 minutes and see what I can get done. Some things I have to be in the right frame of mind for (i.e. ruthless!). As my house becomes less cluttered I am starting to feel the benefits – I can now relax in my living room. When I come down the stairs in the morning I appreciate my tidy hallway. I feel lighter in spirit.

All it takes to start is a tiny step. Just do one thing at a time. You’ll get there and you’ll feel a great sense of achievement for having done it and potentially notice other benefits too.

So before you buy ‘stuff’ for people this Christmas consider whether it’s something that they really want. Why not buy experiences for them or give your time instead – these are far more likely to leave a lasting impact without cluttering our lives.

Consider your options before buying ‘stuff’

Starter for 10 is an online course that I’ll be delivering in January 2020. It could be just the ticket you, your family or friends need to get you heading in the right direction. Participants will be emailed tasks and exercises to do that will, if focused on for 10 minutes a day, improve their life and well-being. This course won’t solve all their problems but it will be the kickstart to better things. 10 minutes for 10 days for £10!