I’ve spent much of the last five years supporting women with chronic illness, which has often meant helping people to organize their closets, something that makes a surprisingly big difference.
A clear closet can make every day that little bit easier, which can help with both physical and mental health. It can be an emotional process as throwing out old clothes forces your client to mourn the loss of the life she once had ("one day I'll weigh what I did before this illness took over my body"), or the dreams she had that now seem lost because of illness (“I was looking forward to wearing that on my trip to X but I had to cancel it because I got sick.”).
However, it’s worth it! You’re relieving your client of a huge burden, allowing her to let go of emotions that weigh her down, and on a very practical level you’re removing clutter from her life and making a daily process much easier. Here are 4 simple steps for quick but effective closet clearing for your client:
1. Sort every item in the closet into three piles 'Keep', 'Donate', ‘Trash'. Your client need merely sit on the bed and direct you while you do the physical work. Make sure that the 'Keep' pile includes only clothes that fit and are wearable NOW! If illness causes your client’s weight to fluctuate, pack the seasonal keeps and keeps of different sizes into suitcases or labeled vacuum bags, and put them somewhere away from the closet.
Make sure that very item of clothing going back into the closet is wearable NOW! This means that they’ll no longer be spending energy rummaging through things that don’t fit them, and getting lost in the emotional turmoil this triggers.
2. Use Non-Slip Hangers
Has the closet floor become a graveyard for clothes and the beginning of a mess that resembles a rummage sale? Use slim non-slip hangers to ensure that your good work lasts long after you’re finished organizing.
3. Create Sections
Sort the closet into sections: Skirts, Dresses, Pants, Tops and then sort each section into colors.This will help your closet scan the closet and pick outfits quickly, making the morning closet stop a pleasure.
4. Grab and Go
Keep the items they prefer to wear regularly in the most accessible part of the closet so your client can open the door and immediately pick an outfit with no need to rummage. Put daytime wear at the front and center of the closet and evening wear in the most inconvenient spots.
Remember, this task is a big deal for your client. Approach it with an open heart, a desire to help and a big smile and you’ll find that what first seemed a chore becomes one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done for someone else.
Lottie supports women with chronic illness to create the life they really want despite their chronic illness at lottieryan.com. In her past life she was a Major Gift’s Senior Fundraising Manager for a major UK charity and over the years has worked with hundreds of volunteers doing all manner of support activities.