“I Am a Hoarder and I Need Help” – 10 Steps to Self-Help

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: October 23, 2023

It can feel as though you’re completely isolated and on your own. Even with the help of friends and family, dealing with hoarding can become overwhelming. It consumes the space in your home while it drains your ability to cope.

As you look in the mirror, you say, “I am a hoarder. How do I begin to clean my house and take control again?”

We understand what you’re going through and that you’re ready to make real changes. Through our hoarding & clutter cleanup company here in Chicago, we help hoarders all across the city reclaim their homes and their sense of well-being. We’re committed to making a positive difference.

Self-Help for Hoarders: A 10-Step Guide

Please understand that you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that five percent of our nation’s population deals with hoarding. As you learn how to manage your stress and anxiety, cleaning up the house can still seem like a monumental job. Let’s break it down into 10 steps.

1. Do It For Yourself

“I am a hoarder, so how do I begin to clean everything up?” The answer to that question starts with self-motivation. Consider all the important reasons you have for conquering clutter. Imagine the long-lasting positive effects on your quality of life and peace of mind.

2. Keep Goals Manageable

Minimize the sense of being overwhelmed by keeping cleanup manageable. Divide large jobs into small goals, complete them one at a time, and build on that success a little bit every day.

3. List Stress Levels

Draw up a list of things that need to go and another one that outlines the affected areas in your home. Assign each item and room a level of stress between 1 and 10 to help navigate cleanup sessions.

4. Work Your Way Up

It’s easier to let go of small things, so begin by clearing out clutter that you can take care of by yourself. As you make progress, ask for help with items that are either too large to manage or too hard to part with.

5. Decide Where It Goes

Always keep labeled boxes nearby for separating things by category. This strategy helps keep track of what goes where. You know which items need to be thrown away, recycled, donated or sold.

6. Give Yourself Time

Plan on cleaning for just a little while each day. Set a schedule that works best with your timetable and energy levels. It took a while for things to get out of control, so take your time as you reclaim the house.

7. Practice the OHIO Principle

The idea behind the OHIO principle is simple: Only handle it once. This streamlines decision-making and helps you move on to the next item. You minimize the anxiety of letting things go and practice smart time-management too.

8. Say No to Distractions

You have to stay focused on the job at hand, so say no to distractions while you work. Turn off the television, turn down the music, and turn on the answering machine.

9. Always Stay Flexible

Cleaning up years of clutter can be very stressful, so allow yourself plenty of elbow room for relaxing. If you feel as though it’s all too much, walk away with plans to pick up where you left off later. A flexible schedule is important, and it’s comforting too.

10. Know Help Is Available

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I am a hoarder, and I need help getting rid of all this stuff.” Check with local charities that accept donations. Some recycling companies pick up large items curbside, and many restoration contractors provide hoarding cleanup services.

Reaching Out to Professionals

Hoarding wasn’t officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association until 2013. Today, there are many organizations dedicated to addressing the problem. We strongly recommend reaching out to professionals in the field who can help you develop a workable recovery plan.

The International OCD Foundation offers a variety of resources for hoarders and information about local programs and behavioral specialists. While reaching out can seem difficult, it’s important to know that help is always available.

When You Need Extra Help: Call Chicago’s Leading Hoarder Cleanup Company

clutter cleanup company

Taking those first steps to recovery is a life-changing experience. The process becomes easier as you develop new skills and reach new goals. It’s our hope that this guide can assist you on your way to regaining control.

If you need the extra support of junk removal services, we’re standing by 24/7. Our teams handle all hoarding situations with compassion, and we treat all our clients with the utmost respect and dignity.

When you want help from a clutter cleanup company in Chicago that truly cares, contact us at 773-647-1985

What causes someone to hoard?

The medical community can’t pinpoint one specific cause, but it is recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Hoarding is believed to be similar to obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s sometimes triggered by a traumatic event in the individual’s life.

How do I know if I’m a hoarder?

Symptoms of hoarding include habitually acquiring things you don’t need even when space in the home becomes an issue. The thought of throwing these things away is upsetting. Avoidance, perfectionism and an inability to organize are also considered symptoms of hoarding.

What can you do if you live with a hoarder?

Be patient without being judgmental. Stress the importance of finding a solution. Reach out to area organizations that offer support for hoarders and their families. Contact an industry-certified cleaning business that specializes in hoarder cleanup and property restoration.