Jul 22, 2019

Mental Health Benefits Of Minimalism

Have you ever noticed that the state of your home can have a direct impact on your mental health and outlook? Have you ever looked around your house and felt anxious? Disgusted? Tired? Stressed? Maybe you felt the longing for a change or to get away. Perhaps even smothered by all the "stuff" that surrounds you daily, regardless of it it was clean or not. I mean, I can't be the only one.

Is it possible to let go and escape those feelings? I believe so.

Feeling Lost

(Credit: Unsplash)

I've never considered myself a glum individual. I always viewed myself as joyful, mischievous, random, silly, stubborn and playful. (Imagine if Ace Ventura and Loki had a love child. You're welcome.) I didn't notice how my mind had gotten a little darker until I took to minimalism. I realized that I had become defensive, curt, shut down, and reclusive. I laughed less and felt irritated much more often. You've heard that saying, "Grumpy and tired are just parts of my personality at this point." I embraced that saying and accepted that that's just what "adulting" is all about.

It wasn't until I stood in the midst of my new space, with all it's clutter-free openness, that I realized my mind had been in as much chaos as my home. With each item that I purged I found another piece of myself again. Parts that I loved and missed about myself but thought had faded awayFreeing my mind of negativity was an unexpected, yet welcome, side effect of decluttering. I began to build myself back up to a whole little by little.

(Credit: Unsplash)

Letting The Light In

When I let go of all the excess, I realized what I had been doing to myself. I had placed myself in a self-imposed prison; Keeping all of the windows closed to fend off the outside world. After I let go of the junk and excess I was able to relax more and was less stressed. I started drawing and painting pictures again. I put Pandora on daily and had silly dancing jam sessions. And honestly, you should be grateful you didn't have to see that part. Believe me, it's not pretty. My dancing consists of spinning in circles and doing weird bent knee wiggles. (Note the Ace Ventura part of my personality here) 

There's something refreshing about opening all of your windows, letting the light in, and not feeling ashamed of anyone seeing your house. Almost as if the act of drawing those curtains back also pulls a foggy layer aside in your mind to allow illumination to flow within. When the home is open and bright, your heart and mind tend to jump on board and you can't help but feel lighter yourself. 

Rediscovering A Passion

(All rights reserved) One of my favorite paintings! This print is avail. for sale here.

My favorite benefit is that I've found my creative spark again! I absolutely adore doing simple and colorful drawings. I took a hiatus from art to plan my wedding early in 2019, but I never did pick it back up. I wanted to, but my mind was never in the right place and I lacked the motivation. I was always too tired even though I wasn't doing anything most days. My cluttered space was a major artistic block for me.

Benefits Of Decluttering Your Space:

  • Reduced Stress - The less that catches your eye means less you're mind is worrying about keeping up with and cleaning.
  • Reduced Anxiety - Chaos can cause the mind to feel anxious. Minimalism results in calm environments. 
  • Increased Creativity - With less to distract you you're more likely to get a bit bored. But don't view that as a bad thing! Boredom inspires creativity. Let your mind wonder and explore where that takes you.
  • Boosted Confidence - My confidence in my home has skyrocketed. It's perfectly "us" and everything within it inspires pride. I feel like I have been awarded the "American Dream" trophy on home life and healthy living. 
  • Improved Mood - The house takes minimal effort to clean, your confidence is higher, you're rediscovering passions during free time, and your anxiety and stress are reduced. How could you not find yourself smiling more?
  • Healthier Relationships - Improved moods will flow into your relationships. Better communication and less stressful conversations. I've noticed that when my space is crazy, my communication skills mirror it. 
  • More Free Time - With less time spent each day on cleaning you can focus on other things. Passions, family, getting outside, marathoning a show, etc. 
  • Increased Energy - There's nothing more energetic that looking around your minimized home and feeling a surge pride. I've even found myself searching for something to clean. I know, right? Ew. Who wants to clean (And you oddballs who actually do like cleaning.... You're not human. That's not normal. You can't sit with us)
(Credit: Unsplash)

Redefining The Home

  • You Don't Have To Do Everything All At Once - Maybe you're not ready to do a complete overhaul right away. That's totally okay. Maybe it starts with tossing a pair of old shorts, or maybe getting rid of the clothes that don't fit anymore. Maybe it's downsizing those craft supplies you've been hoarding for years on a "what if" scenario. (Guilty...So so guilty)
  • You Don't Have To Do It Alone - Have your roommate, partner, husband, wife, friend, or a family member give you a hand. If you're willing to let someone else help you purge, using the buddy system can actually help prevent backsliding
  • You Don't Have To Be A Strict Minimalist - Simply purging the stuff you don't use or need can make you feel as if you've accomplished a grand goal. And you absolutely have. Even if, at the end, you still have hundreds of movies or a tons of art supplies. (Did I mention guilty already? GUILTY) If you use it, then you don't have to toss it simply to toss something. 
  • Find Your Motivation - What drives you? What are your goals? Is it to feel free from clutter? To have more playtime with kiddos? To have more time with a loved one or friends? Maybe you want to worry less about home up-keeping and jet-set off to explore. Find what drives you and don't give up. Baby steps are better than none at all, right?

My goals and motivation revolve around providing a better life for my family. To do more activities together vs being spread across the same room, distracted with different items and not interacting with each other.  I wanted to have less so we can do more, be more, and have moreI'll always be on the lookout for new ways to live healthier. From what foods we eat as a family, how we spend our time, to the state of our environment. I think our society has confused the term "having it all" with "having all of it." 

I encourage you to set aside what you've been told is the proper formula for a successful and happy life. Create your own idea and fill it with all that brings value into your world. 

What ways have you noticed your life improving? 
Has minimalism helped you overcome anxiety or stress? 
What hobbies have you been able to devote more time to? 

I'd love to hear from you! 

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