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In this post, I’d like to take you on a journey. The one where I discovered why minimalism in better for your mental health…
A few years ago, I was in a job that I hated. It was where my ‘official’ journey with anxiety and depression began. I say official because that was when I got diagnosed. I’ve actually had anxiety my whole life, followed not long after by a nice dose of depression, just before IBS decided to pop its head up too.
During this time I decided the way to solve my problems was to get out of the job I was in, and the answer to my prayers was to start my own business. I took a course to become a wedding planner and set up my own business, which was going to solve everything…until it didn’t.
Unfortunately, I had no idea how to run a business, how to market myself; I hadn’t done any research into my target market. So it flopped and I stayed in my terrible job. Then I started looking into ways to make money from home. Now don’t label me as lazy just yet! I was suffering on a daily basis with my IBS and taking so much Immodium every day, just to make it through work that I would end up stuck in the loo for HOURS at a time because I blocked myself up so much!
I figured if I could work from home, I never needed to worry about finding a loo in time. So I tried my hand at Amazon arbitrage, private labelling, matched betting, blogging, running an online shop etc and so on. But none of it worked.
The problem was that I wanted it all to be successful yesterday. That’s not the way any business works, it takes hard work and a lot of time and effort to get a business going. So I gave up on all of it before it really began.
It was after this time, when my depression and anxiety reared up again, that I started to look into the opposite side of things. Maybe I didn’t need to make more money, I just needed to want less stuff!
This actually made a lot more sense to me. I’ve never been a material person. So trying to make millions just didn’t align with my values and I think that was why I was so quick to quit when it didn’t work.
Now I am happier when I have decluttered, got rid of stuff I don’t need or love, and have space to actually breathe and feel rested. This, my friends, is called Minimalism
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is the realisation that it is our experiences, people and life, in general, that makes us happy, not stuff. The more stuff we have, the more we want, and so happiness is never truly reached. When we take stock of the stuff we have, how much of it we actually use, it can be startling to realise that our ‘favourite dress’ from 3 years ago hasn’t been worn since the Xmas party we bought it for.
We are prey for the advertisers who make A LOT of money making us feel like we are not good enough unless we buy stuff that we won’t need.
But when we purge our lives of the unnecessary and start feeling grateful for the things we do have – like great friends, a loving family, a home, food on the table; we start to appreciate how rich our lives actually are.
Are minimalists happier?
As a rule, minimalists are happier. They have more time on their hands because they aren’t constantly working to make money for stuff they don’t need. Minimalists have a lot less cleaning to do because there is less to clean! They have more money to spend on stuff that’s meaningful, like experiences. They are less stressed by all the clutter in their home, and their lives are more meaningful.
So it’s easy to see why minimalism is better for your mental health. But how do you get there?
5 Steps to becoming a minimalist
- Decide what minimalism actually means to you – there is no one size fits all for this type of lifestyle. It may mean owning less stuff, living in a smaller home, or simply decluttering
- Go through each room in your house; pull out everything and thoroughly clean the room. Then go through your possessions one by one. If the item makes you FEEL something (sentimental) or is practical or useful (good clothing, toiletries etc) keep it, everything else you can sell, donate, recycle or throw (in that order!)
- Organize your possessions. How you do this is up to you. I have been told that organising by category is more effective, but I prefer to organise by location; for example, the kitchen, the living room, bathroom etc. Choose what works for you
- Use storage to organize. It makes things look less cluttered if your toiletries are all stored in a drawer unit, your clothes are all hung in a closet, and your paperwork is in a file. Wherever possible, have a place for everything, and put everything in its place
- Once you’ve decluttered, cleaned and made your home feel more manageable, its time to think about what you bring in. When you feel the urge to buy something, give yourself some breathing space to decide if you really need it. I make it a month, but some make it three. If after that designated time you still find yourself thinking, ‘I could really do with that’ or ‘I really do love that item’ then buy it. 9 times out of 10, after a month, I’ve forgotten about it!
The bottom line:
Minimalism could be seen as a ‘fad’ or trend, but for those of us who have tried it, it is truly a life changer for our mental health. It makes us happier, gives us more of our time back, makes cleaning a pleasure instead of a chore and saves us money. Try it, what have you got to lose?
Did you already know why minimalism is better for your mental health? Are you a minimalist? Let me know in the comments below!