Catching Our Breath: Making Space Amidst Internal & External Clutter

My biggest loss of 2020 was momentum. For those who lost family and friends, there’s no comparison. My heart is with them. I know, deeply, that in losing loved ones, the survivors also lost the direction, strength of purpose that they’d been cultivating, nurturing.


For me, I was able to keep my spiritual “house” in order. My physical house? Not so much. I’ve come to identify—half jokingly, half crying—as a “Dresser of Convenience.” That means I grab the closest, cleanest item and put it on. For the last year, that’s simply been “my best.” I’m also that person that moves the clean laundry from the bed to the dresser top and back again. There are boxes of my belongings on the back porch. Half of my plants need repotting. Clutter piles up because I don’t have the capacity to go through them.


I don’t love these facts about my reality, but I have compassion for them. When COVID-19 hit, my mental health took a hit, and my lowered capacity—for relationships, for new projects, for keeping up with clutter—reflected my mental health struggle.  I went from having a Route 44 pitcher of energy to a teacup. Barely enough to make it through the day, much less fold my laundry.


Here’s what I’ve learned after a year in COVID-19 conditions:

  • It feels hard because it is hard.
  • When I make space for my feelings, they pass more gently. (“Space” can look like meditation, long walks, phone calls with trusted friends).
  • When my physical space is cluttered, my anxiety rises. Stepping over things, stepping on things, reinforces my feelings of being off-balance, unsafe.
  • Mental clutter (also known as “psychological noise”) is real: messy schedules, rushing, no pauses for self-reflection, rest.
  • I can’t do this alone.


Mental clutter leads to physical clutter, and vice versa. Too busy to do the dishes in the morning makes anxiety about not “being a real adult” or “competent” in the evening. If I’m too tired, I collapse, and surprise, that pile of dishes is taller in the morning.


My “spaces” are deeply connected. My internal space (mental health, feelings, heart) mirrors my external spaces (my bedroom, my home, any cars, yards, or workplaces), and vice versa.


COVID drove home a message: I had to learn to “make space” for grief, hope, and resilience. I had to be intentional in making that space, or it wouldn’t happen. And surprise, it didn’t involve the “clutter” of messy schedules, running from thing to thing with no pauses for assessing the state of ourselves, our spaces.


I had to learn to pause, to assess self and space give me insight into where and how our energy can best be spent “cleaning up.”


Looking at the anniversary of when the COVID 19 pandemic began, I don’t want to just grieve—I’m too tired for just grief. Honoring my experience is valid. I don’t necessarily want to celebrate. Anyone expression is too limiting. I need it all. I need space for each feeling, to honor and witness it.


If you want to do it with me, I’m creating a FREE, warm, kind space together to do it! Meditation, movement, and reflection will be our tools to create space for our feelings. All bodies are welcome for this accessible program of community processing!


Catching our Breath, Tending our Hearts: Reflecting on a Year of COVID is a 3-part series that starts March 11, 2021. The 3 parts are: Honoring our Grief (March 11, 2021), Celebrating our Resilience (March 18, 2021), and Cultivating our Hope (March 25, 2021).


This series will explore the embodied impact and related feelings a year living through a pandemic has brought us. We recommend comfy clothes, paper and pen, and a space for movement, if applicable. We hope you’ll join us for the entire series, but you’re also invited to drop-in to individual sessions as you can!


Register Here (all events are FREE):


If you just want to talk about your experience living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re here to listen. If you need help, we’re here to connect you to free, confidential resources.


Call, leave a message, and an expert will call you back.

(This is not a diagnosis or appointment line):

(303) 545-0852






Nicole T. Castro, (she/her, they/them), Community Liaison for Mental Health Partners


Nicole T. Castro, MA, (she/her & they/them) is originally from Ft. Worth, Texas. A biracial genderqueer person, Nicole has her Masters in Communication with a focus on Social Justice & Activism. They are a regular meditation practitioner and work to bring a lens of embodiment and mindfulness to (non)violence and community connection. Nicole believes individual healing and collective liberation to be synonymous. She hopes to support her Colorado communities on every level—with individuals, families, organization groups, and communities. With COVID 19, Nicole most misses fellowship and hearing people laugh. In the meantime, Nicole is cultivating an absurd number of succulents and house plants, as well as catching up on sci-fi and fantasy books.