During the month of March, at Healthoholics, we’re discussing Spring Cleaning – in all its forms! And, when we began brainstorming as a team what topics we would cover, relating to Spring Cleaning, all eyes were on me as soon as clearing away clutter was mentioned.
“Why?”, you might be wondering.
Well, because I haven’t stopped talking about my journey to minimalism for the last 18 months!
Minimalism is a word that scares a lot of people. “Oh, I can’t live without (insert favourite possession here)”. The word minimalism, for many, conjures up images of deprivation, destitution, lack, or emptiness.
In reality, that’s not minimalism at all.
Minimalism, to me, is about identifying what is truly important and valuable to you – and placing more focus on those things.
Minimalism isn’t one strictly-defined set of rules. Rather, it’s the choice to have a lifestyle and possessions that strongly reflect your individual values. For example, if your great-grandmother’s teacup collection brings you joy, then you should have it on display! If your family saves time, is more efficient, and can therefore spend more time together like you want – then maybe you should own three cars.
In this blog, instead of focussing on the items I “purged”, I’d like to cover 7 Things Minimalism Has ADDED To My Life.
A Cleaner House
Do you like having a clean house, but hate having to clean your house? Me, too!
I LOVE having a clean house. In fact, I almost feel like I NEED to have a clean house. It’s very important to me. But, I also never enjoyed toiling away for half of my weekend cleaning, doing chores, or checking-off maintenance tasks around my home. Even more so since becoming a mother, I’d rather do things to make memories with my down time.
So, what’s the best way to spend less time cleaning? Have less stuff to clean.
These days our home furnishings are simple. I don’t have to pick up a million knick-knacks to dust around, or move lots of furniture out of the way to sweep, and it takes less time to put our possessions away because we simply have less possessions to put away.
When you have less to take care of, it’s easier to take care of each item.
I had never considered that my physical possessions and the state of my surroundings could impact my mental health – but 18 months into this journey, the connections between the two are, for me, irrefutable.
If my home is untidy, cluttered, or otherwise in a state of disarray, and I take a moment to look at my mental state, it’s generally also cluttered and in disarray.
Especially in your home, if you have a calm, peaceful environment, where everything has a purpose and a place – it takes a load off your mind. Have you ever cleaned out your closet, or garage, or basement? How did you feel afterwards? Probably an emotion along the lines of relief, lightened, or at ease, right?
Having less material items to worry about, means you have less to worry about in general.
About 6 months in to my minimalism journey, my family was presented with the opportunity to move (for the second time in a year) to a home that was a great fit for us! We wanted to do it. I had feelings of dread about moving, because my past experiences had been long, difficult, and emotionally taxing.
Moving, when you have less possessions, is no big deal at all!
It took us, along with a couple friends, 4 hours to fully move-house. By the end of the weekend, we had photos hung, rooms decorated, closets organized – and there wasn’t a moving box in sight!
It was freeing to know that we, as a family, now have the ability to easily pick up and go whenever and wherever we like, without the struggle I previously associated with moving.
And, I won’t even get into the money you save when you are purposefully limiting your possessions, but there’s certainly and added sense of freedom that comes with having a few extra dollars each month, as well!
Yes, I consider myself a minimalist – but I still like hosting and being hospitable.
The house we’re in now, is the smallest home our family has every lived in, ringing it at a “whopping” 1000 square feet. And yet, I have the room to regularly host groups of 10 or 12 (or more!) of us!
How? Because my furniture and possessions are chosen carefully and sparingly.
Everything I own has a function and a value, there’s no extra “stuff” taking up space that could be used for people and building relationships.
Minimalism isn’t just about physical possessions. Minimalism compels you to mindfully decide where you spend all your resources – whether that’s money, time, or energy.
And while clearing away physical possessions may not better our health immediately, what if we began to clear away the clutter in our schedules? We are firmly planted in the 21st century, and most of us in the Western world are working too much, taking on too many commitments, and generally over-scheduled.
What if we got over the fear of disappointing those around us, and started saying “no” more often? What if we began letting go of some things that are unnecessary? What if you suddenly had an extra two hours per day to do the things YOU wanted?
Maybe you’d get more sleep. Maybe you’d spend more time enjoying your children or your spouse. Maybe you’d take more time to prepare a home-cooked meal. Maybe you’d finally find the time to exercise.
Whatever you’d choose to do with your new-found time, I’m sure your body would thank you.
The Ability To Make Better Decisions
Have you ever heard of the term “decision fatigue”? Decision fatigue is defined as “the deteriorating quality of decisions being made after a long session of decision making”.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? We’re not robots, and it’s hard to make decision, on top of decision, on top of decision.
I, like many people, had never considered all the small decisions I was bogging myself down with each day by having so many options available.
- What should I wear to work?
- What lipstick matches that outfit?
- What coffee mug do I want to use for my cup of tea?
- What do I want to eat this morning?
- What type of bowl will I serve my breakfast in?
- What will I wear to the gym today?
- What coat and boots should I send my little one to school in?
- What route will I take to get to work?
…And that’s all before I’d left the house.
One of the first places I paired down was my wardrobe. I undertook the challenge of a “capsule” wardrobe, inspired by Project333. I allowed myself two wardrobe capsules, one for warmer months and one for cooler months – each with 33 pieces. On top of those 33 pieces, I allowed undergarments (which included 5 tank tops), two pairs of workout pants and two workout tops, and 5 pairs of shoes. For me, I didn’t count the jewellery (like my wedding band) that I never take off.
Can I tell you how easy it is to decide what to wear to exercise when you only have two options? I choose the one that’s clean. Likewise, if you only have one type of mug in your cupboards, you’ll instinctively reach for it without a thought when you’re pouring a cup of tea.
We all have a million things to make decisions about – whether my child wears hot pink or unicorn rain boots to school isn’t a decision I want to bog myself down with, because having one pair of rain boots to wear on a rainy day is enough.
So, whether your goal is to have a clean house, clear mind, or better health this spring – ditching the clutter and committing to a more minimalist lifestyle (however that looks for you), may be a great place to start!