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Hoarding and the Holidays

For people with a hoarding problem, the holidays can be a challenging time of year. The three authors of Buried in Treasures, Randy O. Frost, Gail Steketee and David F. Tolin, if they had any advice for people who struggle with saving and hoarding during the holiday season.

Randy O. Frost: The holidays are filled with joy and celebration. Too often, however, these good feelings lead to acquisitions that eventually cause considerable frustration in the form of clutter. Consider making this holiday one in which you collect experiences instead of things. In doing so, you may find the true peace and happiness of the season. David F. Tolin: The holidays can be a particularly tough time for people who hoard, for several reasons. First, with all of the bargains and advertisements out there, the urge to acquire can be very high this time of year. Second, because so many people who hoard can be prone to feelings of depression and social isolation, the holidays can be particularly upsetting—and a lot of the time, hoarding symptoms can get worse as people become increasingly distressed. Third, excessive clutter, which is the most visible symptom for most people, can put a huge strain on family plans. People who hoard, and their family members as well, need to recognize that this can be a particularly tough time and that arguing and nagging not only won't help, it might make things worse (and will certainly make them more unpleasant). But New Year's is right around the corner and is a great time to make a truly meaningful resolution: to identify and work on hoarding so that the next holiday can be happy, healthy and clutter-free. Gail Steketee: People with compulsive hoarding problems often have difficulty with feelings of guilt and responsibility and also perfectionism. During the holidays, they may find themselves trying to give the perfect gift to make someone happy, with many purchases made and cast aside in the effort. At the same time, they may try to prevent waste by saving all those discarded ribbons, Christmas wrappings and boxes. Although responsibility, perfectionism and preventing waste are laudable goals, don't let them rule your life like a tyrant. In the spirit of the holidays, we recommend you have faith that your gift will be appreciated for the thought behind it, whether it is perfect or not. Remember that life happens and a little forgiveness toward yourself and others when things are not perfect or some waste occurs will go a long way. So give yourself a break, relax the rules and have a happy holiday.

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