Simplifying a Stressed Mind: 5 Minimalist Habits to Adopt
To put it simply, life can be a lot to handle right now. With the ever-changing circumstances framing a world where one step forward can seem like three leaps back, it’s undeniably easy to feel overwhelmed with life’s cycling clutter of stressors. Work, social life, and reality in general are in various states of disarray. While this is true, there are ways to manage both the physical and mental clutter to create a more breathable existence. Minimalists do so every day with their space-conscious mindsets. So, when mess seems to be infiltrating every inch of your life in a suffocating blanket of anxiety, the simple living habits of minimalists may hold to key to contentment in these uneasy times. Here are five minimalist habits to adopt in your life so that you may keep it simple, sister (you know, K.I.S.S.).
- Declutter Mind, Home, and Phone— It’s All Space
One of the core truths of minimalism is the understanding that empty space does not always need to be filled. To truly embrace this minimalistic mindset, however, you must understand that this “space” is not always physical! While it is undoubtedly important to ensure that you are constantly aware of the space that you are filling in a room, it is just as important that you are conscious of the mental and digital space that you crowd with clutter.
Take some time to go through your phone and delete repeated photos (no, you don’t need 20 pictures of the same sunset from the same day) and perhaps make the tough choice and delete those apps/games that you no longer use. For a little mental decluttering, sit down for a check-in with yourself and your thoughts. Through meditation or even just some good old introspection, see if there are thoughts taking up the majority of your headspace (such as worries about things that you cannot control) that you would be infinitely better off without. Remember to go back and re-evaluate all of these spaces every once in a while as decluttering is always an ongoing process.
- The Importance of Immediacy: Don’t Wait to Declutter and Clean
It’s an undeniable truth that tasks feel more daunting the longer you put it off. When in the practice of keeping space clear, “now” is invariably better than “later”. This means cleaning as you go by: washing/rinsing the dishes as you finish with them while cooking dinner, clearing a phone tab after you’re done using it, putting things back in their rightful place as soon as you notice it’s somewhere else. This approach can also extend to your mental space, such as in addressing/expressing a feeling or thought as soon as it pops into your head and not leaving it to marinate and explode later. Mess accumulates. Better to deal with it now before it snowballs into a whole new and bigger mess.
- Learn to be Resourceful (Reuse to Reduce)
While decluttering is all about getting rid of what you don’t need, a worthy question to ask yourself before dumping something is whether or not you can reuse something. Of course, it is not recommended to use this question as a crutch/reason to hoard unused things, but resourcefulness and making use of what you already have as opposed to buying to fill a need is a great habit to pick up from minimalists. Especially with trendy clothes or décor that will be sure to phase in and out of style, it might be better to evaluate whether or not you already own something that can be reworked to fit that desired aesthetic in order to not fall victim to another compulsive purchase. If you keep to the mindset that quality beats quantity, you will be sure to always have things that can withstand the fickleness of fashion while also keeping your problem-solving mind sharp and ready to go.
- Live and Consume with Intention
Along with consuming with intention, as was implied in the last point, it is important to live with intention. While that can first just mean being aware of the products that you are consuming in terms of their quality and the reasons why you consume what you do, it can also mean avoiding living your life by just “going through the motions.” Understand what your values and goals are in life. It’s a simple question of “Why do you get out of bed each morning?” that can be met with answers as simple as “To be happy” to as complex as “To search for a reason to get out again tomorrow.” No matter what, as soon as you understand what your priorities are, you can start evaluating how you are spending your time and energy on things that will bring you to your intended goal and things that won’t so that you can re-adjust accordingly. If your life is not in alignment with your reason for living, what can you change so that it does?
- Constantly Practice Gratitude (Thankfulness is Mindfulness)
Lastly, when in the mindset of simple living, it is important to remind yourself to be grateful for what you have instead of yearning for what you don’t. This practice lends itself to positive-slanted thinking that focuses on the light and not the dark. Especially now, it can be easy to give into the Internet whips that enumerate the many reasons that 2020 is the worst year yet and fall into a anxious pit of despair. While there are surely a great deal of horrible things happening in the world today, there are also always positives to be grateful for that can match and even sometimes outweigh the negatives if you choose to seek and acknowledge them. Perhaps it is simply gratitude for being healthy and well enough to read this now. Or maybe it is gratitude for the safety of your loved ones. Sleep, caffeine, phone calls with you friends, summer rain, your favorite restaurant re-opening, Hamilton on Disney+, there can be thousands things to be grateful for each day. Find them. Write them down. Don’t focus on the empty space that you think means something is missing. Focus on what you already have.