- Hello again my friend
- I Started To Feel Smothered And Anxious
- We Minimalized Our Life In A Huge Way
- The First Thing I Noticed Was My Stress Melting Away
- 10 Ways To Minimalize Your Home, Mind, and Spirit
Hello again my friend
In this post, I’d like to tell you a story about how minimalism totally changed my life. Then I’ll share 10 ways to help you get started.
Living in Australia, we had a pretty good lifestyle. We worked long hours but we had decent wages, the ability to buy a modern car or two (although running costs for two cars has definitely risen).
In our latter years, my husband and I built a beautiful Mediterranean-style house and filled it with appropriately lovely Mediterranean-style furniture and ornaments from our previous travels, together with a peaceful garden to enjoy the Western Australian weather.
Please note, I’m not saying this to brag. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s leading to a life-lesson I needed to learn.
We had cupboards full of beautiful wedding gifts that we treasured but never used, and hadn’t seen the light of day for most of our 20-year marriage!…along with just about every kitchen gadget known to ‘Man’.
“So what’s this issue” I hear you say. “Sounds like a wonderful lifestyle”, and it was. But, for some reason, after a while, I realized that I wasn’t happy and hadn’t been for some time… but I couldn’t figure out why.
At this point, I can imagine that some people will read this and think “what is wrong with this woman?…why isn’t she thankful for what they have when so many others struggle to achieve that level of lifestyle”…and I totally agree!
But bear with me as that’s just the point.
In the end, it felt like none of it was fulfilling. I was realizing that just accumulating physical items wasn’t filling a deeper need in me…and I found it really confusing.
Wasn’t this what society prepared us to do?…what our schooling and parents had taught us was what we should aim for in life?
The problem is that personality comes into play. Our priorities change as we age, and mine had definitely changed. The concept of Minimalism was something I’d never heard of.
I had no idea that having too many things around you can actually become an issue for some people mentally. It may not be when you’re younger…and for some folks, it never becomes an issue.
I Started To Feel Smothered And Anxious
But now, as I got older, I started to crave a less complicated life. Slowly at first. Fewer bills, less cleaning, less storage, even less space. I started to feel a little smothered which is bizarre in a reasonably large house.
Worse than this, was that I really disliked my job.
I hadn’t discussed any of this with my hubby as I feared he would think I had gone nuts as we had such a good lifestyle.
Then one day, after a couple of confidence-boosting glasses of ‘red’, I said to Rene,
“I feel that our lifestyle is no longer for me”…and waited for the response…and waited…and waited…now I was getting really nervous.
After a long pause that appeared to go on forever, he said…
“Yeah, we have too much stuff. Why don’t we sell everything and head off traveling and working online”
OMG…to say I was stunned would be a complete understatement!
This was NOT the response I would ever have expected from Rene. He always seemed so settled and happy with our lifestyle and routine.
But, it just goes to show that even though we think we know someone, they have their own deep thoughts that they keep to themselves.
He didn’t want to tell me for the same reasons I had kept my thoughts from him. But he also wanted to simplify his life and live it completely differently.
We Minimalized Our Life In A Huge Way
So, we planned for a while. Withstood the well-meaning negative comments from family, friends, and colleagues, and started the process of selling our house, cars, furniture.
Plus selling, giving away to family, and donating just about everything else, including leaving our two gorgeous cats with good friends, and storing the other precious items that we couldn’t part with.
And so began our new life traveling overseas with just our laptops and a few clothes each. This was in our late 50’s
Guess what…something amazing happened. Something I truly wasn’t prepared for.
It felt like the world had been lifted off our shoulders. Virtually no bills…just rent, food, transport, that’s it!. No ongoing costs, nothing to worry about anymore.
This was pre-Covid-19. Obviously, everything changed when that hit the world. All our travels came to an abrupt halt, the same as for everyone else.
We are currently in the Southern Highlands of Vietnam and thanks to the quick and ongoing reaction of the Vietnamese government they have kept it contained. Truly!.
No bullshit reporting or hiding the truth as most people in the world suspect (communist country, etc.) It actually couldn’t be kept quiet here as the rumor-mill would soon disclose it. The Vietnamese are a tight-knit community.
So, we feel very lucky and safe and will ride out the pandemic here before re-assessing where to go next. But, the decision to completely minimalize our life was the best thing we ever did!
Yes, I know this is an extreme version of minimalization. Most people are advising you about decluttering your home in order to simplify your life. (Related Post)
But, I wanted to explain an extreme case, as the effect it’s had on decluttering our minds has been profound…and in many ways, life-changing.
The First Thing I Noticed Was My Stress Melting Away
I hadn’t realized that our life in Australia had become quite stressful. Higher bills, more regulations, more insurance fees, less and less rainfall each year meaning the cost of water kept going up.
More news stories of violence than we had previously heard of, and increasing incidents of ‘road rage’ making driving less enjoyable.
Stress was becoming a major concern for me and unlike a few years ago, I just wasn’t handling it well anymore. I don’t believe that it is recognized as much as it should be for being the silent killer that it is.
I truly believe that Long-term stress WILL make you ill. It’s so essential that you find ways to deal with it.
Now, the extent of my daily concern, other than our work commitments is what shall I wear from my very limited wardrobe? No biggie. I can always buy something while we’re here and donate it when we leave.
This is totally better than carrying too much ‘stuff’ with us and is very common amongst Digital Nomads…we all want to keep traveling light.
So…for those of you who can’t or don’t plan to minimalize as dramatically as we did, the following are some tips on decluttering your Mind, Body, and Spirit and achieving it through minimization in your home.
You’ll be surprised at the effect it can have on these other aspects of your life.
10 Ways To Minimalize Your Home, Mind, and Spirit
1. Choose ‘Tough Love’ With Your Clutter
Clutter increases your stress level which is never a good thing. This leads to a lack of quality sleep, possible relationship issues, and also raises your frustration. There’s nothing worse than when you can’t find things you’re looking for when you need them.
Take a ‘tough love’ approach with your home by clearing out items you no longer want to keep, that don’t bring you joy and take up valuable space.
Be ruthless. If you haven’t needed to use them for months/years, they’re broken, or you have several of the same items…time to donate or ditch.
Do this room by room, but take your time and don’t try to do it all in one day or you’ll burn out. Related post Aim for space, clear surfaces, fewer ornaments, nothing laying around where it doesn’t belong. You’ll feel the mental benefit immediately.
Then, organize what you decide to keep so that it’s easily accessible, brings you enjoyment, and has a regular purpose. Seriously look at getting rid of anything that doesn’t fall into these categories.
Make a rule about bringing new stuff into your home. Ask yourself “do I really need this or, just want it?” and resist the urge to add to the clutter after all your hard work!
Also, make every attempt possible to finish off any projects left half done around your home. As women, we usually prefer to see projects finished.
Half-completed jobs around in our home environment can be very unsettling and irritating (men, please take note) and add to an already existing stress level. Remember, we’re trying to de-stress and calm the mind.
2. Develop A Money-Mindset
It’s an old saying but a true one.
“When money flies in the window, love flies out the door”
Now I know this sounds super dramatic, particularly as we’re in the middle of this terrible pandemic and money is a serious issue for so many. But this old adage is worth taking note of as it’s no fun having money issues at any time, with or without Covid-19.
The truth is, many relationships fail due to money concerns, probably more than many people realize. However, this can be avoided by implementing a couple of things.
These can relieve stress and bring the feeling of satisfaction that getting something as important as finances under an element of control.
Develop a ‘Do I really need it?’ mindset before buying anything that isn’t absolutely necessary and bringing it home. Don’t get ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ confused. This isn’t easy because we’ve all been thinking this way for so long.
This mindset will be particularly important once you have decluttered your home so that you don’t fill it up again.
Another simple way is to track what you spend…EVERYTHING you spend!. I know this is probably freaking you out thinking how much work it will be but it’s not so difficult.
Just devise a system (notebook in your bag will do). Jot down the total of each spend, what it was for, and how much. Also, keep the receipts for every purchase. At the end of each week, add it up and note what you spent money on.
Was it an essential, a luxury, or an impulse buy?
No, you don’t have to be a ‘Saint’.
I’m not suggesting you can’t buy whatever you like
This is purely an exercise to help you understand where your money is going and help you assess whether you could be saving for a rainy day (or vacation), rather than always wondering why there’s not much left in the coffers at the end of each month.
Practice Mindfulness by writing down your money goals for the year…what you really want to achieve. For midlife, empty-nesters…you’ve raised your children and they’ve headed out into the world.
Now the world’s your oyster and you can decide on your dreams and goals for this next chapter of your life.
3. Say No To Multi-Tasking
“But we women are so good at this” I hear you say…” we’re famous for it”.
True, but to be honest, do you really think that trying to do 5 things at once means you’re doing all of them to the best of your ability?
1st, No probably not. It’s usually inefficient
2nd, It will be exhausting and counter-productive.
3rd, Trying to do too much is stressful (there’s that word again),
4th, We only do it because we load ourselves up with too much stuff to do.
In reality, our brains can only really focus on doing one thing at a time well. Yes, we can manage lots of more mundane tasks around the house at the same time without having to really focus…but bigger, more involved things need more of your undivided attention.
It’s a much better strategy to do one thing at a time, focus on it, and do really it well, before moving onto the next task. Just try it for a while and see if it feels better.
4. Write Things Down
Why do we all insist on trying to remember everything? Whether it’s the shopping list, birthdays, passwords. Get this stuff out of your head and stop trying to remember everything.
Use something like Trello. This is a fabulous free tool that you can customize and basically have a lot of fun with while staying totally organized.
That’s just one aspect.
Another is that you need to vent!. The truth is, we can never completely speak our mind to our ‘nearest and dearest’ for fear of hurting their feelings. But we still have unruly thoughts, personal anxieties, and bitch-sessions about things that really annoy us.
These feelings are best kept to ourselves along with any unfulfilled wishes, quiet plans for the future, and secrets.
We ALL have them. I don’t believe anyone who says they don’t have personal inner-most thoughts and feelings that are not to be shared with others.
5. Learn To Let Go
So, this is where journaling comes in. (Yes, it’s a type of adult diary!) Personal and private…revel in the freedom of thought but keep it hidden.
There are so many wonderful journals to choose from, plus special colored pens with different nibs, all designed for you to be as creative or structured as you like. You’ll find it so much fun, incredibly relaxing, and quite cathartic to let your feelings flow without offending anyone.
This is a hard one and goes hand-in-hand with aspects of decluttering your home.
Have you been holding on to items of clothing just in case they may fit again one day or keeping exercise equipment that’s taking up space in a room in case you finally get around to trying to get fit again?
Or keeping old presents that you hate because you feel ungrateful if you donate them to a good cause?
The truth is, you may have issues with ‘letting go’. This also translates to holding onto the past. You may be harboring grudges, ill-feelings, guilt, and old grievances which will also lead to worries about the future.
YOU GOTTA LET THEM GO…ITEMS AND ISSUES!
For both your mental and physical health, make peace with the past. You can’t change what has happened in the past, so why would you continue to let it impact you further by spoiling your future.
A good exercise is to forgive those who have wronged you, get over things that caused you grief in the past, and move on.
If you feel guilt over something you did and you want to make amends then do so. Reach out to the person if you want to.
By the way, just because you chose to forgive and forget doesn’t mean you have to get back in touch or invite that person to be part of your life again.
This is about YOU, your peace of mind, and a happy, productive future for YOU…not anyone else.
6. Take Control Over ‘Data Invasion’
We live in an age of technology…it’s just everywhere!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m guilty. I spend a huge amount of time on it. I’m always on Google doing research for this blog and my Health Coach training, and on social media like everyone else.
I watch the news (don’t know why I bother…it’s all doom & gloom) and I watch youtube vids just like half the world.
But, seriously, there are times when I feel the overload and I’m certain you do too. It’s inevitable. Plus, we didn’t grow up with this. In our age group, it’s something that just wasn’t an issue to this extent until about 10 years ago.
So, whether we notice it or not, this constant barrage of information doesn’t do much for our peace of mind.
So, try to give yourself a rest from it for a while. No TV, no SM, no Youtube, no Google (oooh that one’s hard for me). Even dare I say it, the smartphone. (SHOCK, HORROR)…
Just try letting your mind recover and fill it with nature, fresh air, something fun, a great hobby, something meaningful.
Come on…you can do it!
***Then go back to normal before you go into withdrawal and a rehab situation!***
7. Practice Living Intentionally
Living intentionally means that you don’t let life just happen to you…you take control of all aspects of it.
Re-evaluate what your life’s purpose is, especially if your children have left home now. You have more time available to be able to re-visit your dreams and goals for your future.
We all love our kids, but their lives are theirs to live now. They will pursue their own plans for the future and you should do the same.
So don’t sit back and let the rest of your life drift away when there’s so much more you can enjoy and accomplish. Set some fantastic goals for your future.
Put exciting plans in place to achieve them. Find your wonder in the world again and live with a newly-found purpose.
8. Control the Overwhelm & Depression
There are many reasons why you may be experiencing a feeling of overwhelm, anxiety, or depression. Let’s be honest, the world is a really strange, unsettling place at present.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on so many people and in so many different ways that it’s often difficult to stay positive about life.
Also, you may be still battling with the dreaded menopause and all the side effects that go along with it…one of them being anxiety or depression. Whilst we can’t change the world, you will probably gain some real benefit from decluttering and minimalizing your life.
Having more space around you and not living with so many items seems to ease the mind. Apart from the obvious…less to clean, less to store, less spending on more items to clutter your home, you will feel lighter just because there is more airiness in your living spaces.
A feeling of calm, room to breathe, and relax.
No clutter, clear surfaces, and everything in its place will feel like you’ve lightened your load. This is a great mood lifter. You’ll probably find you have greater energy which is just what you need, plus the sense of accomplishment shouldn’t be underestimated either.
Be proud of yourself. Minimizing their life, home and mind is what so many people would love to achieve but for varying reasons, they never get around to it.
9. Adopt A True Minimalist Mindset
Decluttering your home environment is definitely life-changing in many ways but, the trick is being able to stick with it. (Also, it’s true that you can declutter without being a minimalist).
Don’t use the fact that you have rid your home of so many items to allow you to justify acquiring some more. You’re just buying into consumerism…which means you’re not in control… the media and advertising agencies are.
Getting you to purchase ‘stuff’ is an art form. It’s been perfected and it’s sooo easy to fall for it. Part of being minimalistic is about sticking to your personal values and not letting the advertisers lure you in anymore!
So if you really want to live a minimalistic lifestyle there are some aspects of your way of life that will need to change.
Create boundaries for yourself about how you want to live from now on. Cultivate a ‘mindful consumer’ attitude. Stay in control and give rampant consumerism the heave-ho!
You may genuinely care about the damage we humans are all doing to the environment globally. We know we can only do our little bit to help, but lots and lots of little bits add up to quite a big bit.
BTW, no judgment here if you don’t feel this way. Each to their own. Chances are though, that if you have kids and grandkids you probably do.
Things like, not buying plastic storage containers for our home anymore. Taking a shopping list to the grocers so that we don’t ‘wing it’ and end up with unnecessary items that clog the pantry again.
No more buying water in plastic bottles. If your water doesn’t taste great straight from the tap, install a filter, and use a refillable bottle to take with you.
Make a conscious decision to spend less on possessions and instead opt for experiences. Choose to have around you only the items that bring you joy, are aligned with your values and don’t contribute to the growing impact on the environment.
This way of living your life is very freeing mentally, and spiritually.
You’ll feel strong and in control knowing that you’re doing your bit to not consume as much…and the feeling of peace and calm that comes from aligning with your values and enjoying your uncluttered living space will be extremely uplifting.
10. Prepare to Be Changed Forever
- It may take some time to get used to living this way. With fewer possessions around you and consciously choosing not to buy more. But after a while, you will start to feel that this way of life really suits you.
- Your home environment will feel more like a haven. Spacious, airy, and tidy, inducing a sense of calmness and peace. This is, after all, what we want from our home. It’s meant to be our sanctuary away from the world…not a cluttered, disorganized stressful place.
- You’ll possibly find yourself feeling uncomfortable. Feeling a little claustrophobic when you spend time in any environment that’s full of too much of ‘everything’…and you’ll notice a slight level of stress rising.
- When you do need to buy something, you’ll be more aware. You’ll start to take notice of what things are made of. Are they plastic, biodegradable, do they contain chemicals, are they organic, did they come from a country where the people are exploited or their habitat polluted?
- It’s likely you will also start taking much more notice of how and what you eat. After all, if you’re caring about the environment and chemicals, etc the chances are you’ll also worry about what’s going into your body.
- This can lead to an unexpected weight loss. You will possibly change your eating habits due to your new state of mind (BTW, is the best way to shed weight)
- There will probably be more time to do things. Things that aren’t related to cleaning and organizing. Getting out into nature. Maybe volunteering, or enjoying a hobby you didn’t seem to have time for before.
- You won’t be as obsessed with clothes as you may have been in the past. Yes, you’ll have fewer, but they will probably be of better quality and part of a more organized wardrobe where things mix and match.
- You won’t feel guilty when you do buy things. Much more thought will have gone into why you’re actually purchasing them. This leads to more control over your budget and savings…leading to greater money opportunities for your future plans.
- Shopping won’t hold the same appeal that it used to. You’ll find you have got used to spending time enjoying experiences other than shopping sprees. There’s finally more to life than constantly wanting to acquire things, follow the latest trends, or ‘keep up with the Joneses’.
- And here’s the best part...your stress level will fall. Less clutter, less to worry about, more control over your money, living with intention and purpose, all contribute hugely to ridding yourself of dangerous stress, and that’s got to be the best outcome of all.
I really hope you found this article useful and it helped change your life for the better. Please let me know in the comments which parts resonated with you the most.
To your ongoing stress-free life!