Minimalism And The Real You

Minimalism and the real you

Are you comfortable with who you are? Are you happy in your self-identity and with your values and beliefs about life? Do you like who you are and what you have done with your life? Or do you wonder who the real you really is?

It’s Not You That Is the Problem

If you are feeling out of touch with yourself, lost, and unsure what you really want out of life, then perhaps it isn’t you that’s the problem.

Maybe it’s your stuff.

We identify ourselves with what we own. If we love to read, we buy books. If we love painting, we buy brushes and paint. But sometimes what we love and what we buy can be at cross-purposes.

Have you ever bought a piece of clothing hoping to slim-down into it?

Or a new piece of hobby-equipment, only for it to be left in a corner gathering dust after the novelty of the first few weeks has worn off?

Sometimes we can get so stuck in the process of buying for what we think we are, or what we want, that it encompasses everything. Endless knick-knacks and things to decorate our homes with, constantly searching for the right hygge blanket to accessorize the new sofa, endless toys for our kids who already have too many. Kitchenware for our beautiful kitchen even though we generally eat out or heat-up meals rather than cook at home.

Stop The Madness

Advertising sells to us by preying on what we want. We want to be smarter, sexier, more accomplished, funnier, and richer. For each of these things there are a million adverts out there that will convince you that their product will be the final thing you need to give you what you crave.

What’s left at the end of it all is a growing sense of dissatisfaction, a smaller bank balance, and still the nagging feeling that we don’t have enough.

There is nothing out there that you can buy that will turn you into the person you want to be. But stopping the shopping is not as simple as not going to the shops any longer. It has to come from a deeper place inside ourselves where we finally understand that we don’t need external things for internal validation.

Minimalism Clears The Path

One of the beautiful things about minimalism is that it gives us the opportunity to find out who we really are. If you’re feeling lost and confused there is nothing quite like stripping everything away to help you focus on what is going on inside.

These feelings are not always positive. Sometimes when we declutter we discover a huge array of difficult emotions coming to the surface. We want to refill the empty space with stuff. We can be grumpy and irritable, thinking that minimalism has taken away our joy.

What is actually happening is that instead of being distracted by all the things in our life, we are now faced with the reality of ourselves, sometimes for the first time since we were a child. This can be a very troubling and even frightening process to go through and it can lead us running back to the nearest outlet to stock up on emotion-numbing goods.

However, if you can ride the storm, if you can sit and just “be” with all those uncomfortable feelings, you’ll notice something amazing happens.

The Real You

As the dust settles in your newly decluttered life, you’ll see a new version of yourself. The one you had forgotten existed. You might remember things from years ago that you enjoyed, or feelings that you worked hard to hide. Maybe you are an introvert and have spent your life compensating by forcing yourself to be the life and soul of the party (I was definitely guilty of this).

Perhaps you have always placed emphasis on material goods yet deep down you’ve always wanted to farm alpacas! Minimalism allows you to get back in touch with the real you. The person that you’ve inadvertently spent a lifetime trying to cover up and hide. Suddenly, there you are in all your glory.

And if you can get through the difficulty of that period of self-acceptance, and not run a mile from all the cracks that you feel like you need to plaster over (with stuff), you will come out the other side a better person.

Self acceptance

Self acceptance is both the key to, and the result of, deep decluttering. By freeing yourself of physical and emotional clutter you can finally begin from a point of clarity. If there is something that needs improving you can view it with compassion and begin to make habitual changes that will last.

The real you is a person buried under a life of expectations and layers of things to fulfil those expectations.

So have a think about who you really are and how well you know yourself.

A useful exercise is to imagine that everything you own is gone.

Imagine a life stripped bare and then think – what would that feel like and what would you do?

What could minimalism teach you about how you really feel and what you really want to do?

Just do it

Even better than imagining it, just do it. Unclutter your life and your head. Sort through your stuff and the years of needing things you don’t need. Strip things back to basics and find out who you really are.

You might be surprised.

You might just find that you do love the real you after all.

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If you are feeling out of touch with yourself, maybe minimalism can help you uncover the real you and discover what you thought you had lost.

How Clutter Affects Your Health

How clutter affects your health

I can think of many good reasons to declutter your home. A calmer environment, easier cleaning, and less feelings of overwhelm are all benefits of living with less. But did you know there’s another, more pressing reason for clearing your space? I’m going to talk today about how clutter affects your health. You might think that clutter is something that you can block out with some TV and a glass of wine (I did that for years!), but the fact is, it affects you more than you realise.

Clutter and Mental Health

Clutter really does affect our brains – it’s scientifically proven.

Too many things piled up everywhere, e.g. an overly cluttered room, actually affects our ability to think, make decisions and process information.[1] That’s right – clutter actually makes us less intelligent!

Another study on the mental impact of clutter showed that children in heavily decorated classrooms (which is normal in most infant and junior schools), were less able to focus and retained less information that children in plain classrooms.[2]

Clutter elevates stress levels – especially for mothers. Women with cluttered houses have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who describe their houses as tidy.[3,4]

Depression is significantly elevated in people with severe hoarding problems.[5] It makes sense that even lower levels of clutter and mess, given their proven negative effect on stress levels and anxiety, may potentially affect your level of happinness. In fact, in a survey conducted by Blinds Hut, over 80% of Brits said that clutter negatively affected their mood.[6]

If that isn’t enough to make you rethink your surroundings, read on for more.

Clutter and Physical Health

It’s not just our mental health that is affected by too much stuff. A cluttered environment can influence behaviour without us even realising it.

“People with a cluttered bedside table are likely to have a more interrupted sleep, go to sleep later and wake up earlier,” says Cath Hindle, an organiser and decluttering expert from Clear the Clutter.[6]

Ever wondered if the chaos at home is one reason why you just can’t seem to lose weight?

It turns out that clutter influences your food choices and can make you consume more unhealthy food than you would in a non-cluttered environment.[7]

Peter Walsh, author of Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? was quick to notice a correlation between weight gain and the amount of stuff that people had in their houses.

Dust, mould and animal dander, that all collects in a cluttered environment can increase allergies and affect asthma,[8] and injuries in the elderly are more common in cluttered homes.[9]

Clutter and Relationships

As if that wasn’t enough, clutter can also increase social isolation.[10]

Almost 48% of people questioned in the Blinds Hut survey said that clutter had stopped them from having someone over to visit. [6]

Last of all, clutter seems to make children’s behaviour more unruly[11] and it puts relationships under stress. Over 66% of people said that they argued about clutter with their partner.[6]

What can be done?

The answer is simple. Decluttering should be a priority in our lives. Not something that we think we’re going to get around to doing one day.

Clutter really does have a negative impact on your health in many ways.

The combined mental, physical and social effects of living in a cluttered home might be enough to make you feel very negative and stressed about your life.

I surveyed 740 people and found that the most common reason people give for not decluttering is lack of time.

The irony of course is that less clutter in our lives would give us back the time that we so crave.

This is just an overview of how clutter affects your health – there are many more articles and studies online that support the ones I have listed here. Decide today that you’re going to reduce the clutter in your home, and discover how much better you feel in a clear and tidy house.

Modern Minimalism?

If you would like some structured help and support, I run a course twice a year to help you get control of your surroundings and your schedule. You can find out more here.

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How clutter affects your health in something that not many of us know about. But we should all be aware of the impact clutter is having on our lives. How clutter affects your health in something that not many of us know about. But we should all be aware of the impact clutter is having on our lives.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167

[2] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/heavily-decorated-classrooms-disrupt-attention-and-learning-in-young-children.html

[3] http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/trouble-in-paradise-new-ucla-book

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19934011

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2914137/

[6] https://www.blinds-hut.co.uk/blogs/main/how-does-clutter-affect-your-health

[7] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2711870

[8] https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/clutter-control#1

[9] https://blog.mavencare.com/home-care-resources/how-to-reduce-hoarding-and-clutter-to-prevent-falls

[10] https://www.ioaging.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/IoA-Presentation-5-30-14-FINAL-Hoarding-Salon-D.pdf

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Household+chaos+–+links+with+parenting+and+child+behaviour&TransSchema=title&cmd=detailssearch

If You Could Wipe The Slate Clean – What Would You Do?

If you could wipe the slate clean

Many years ago, I avidly followed Dusti Arab’s minimalist writings. Although she doesn’t talk so much about minimalism today, she still has two ebooks available on Amazon (The Minimalist Mom* being the one I would recommend of the two). I love her no-crap approach to paring down. If you really want to wipe the slate clean, you could do worse than to follow her advice. She is on the extreme end of minimalism, and you can see that in her writing. She suggests (with few exceptions) that anything you haven’t used in 30 days needs to go.

Read moreIf You Could Wipe The Slate Clean – What Would You Do?

How To Get Started With Zero Waste

How to get started with zero waste

For a long time I had been thinking about “going zero waste”. It turns out that this is a much bigger job than I realised. We generate a LOT of rubbish in our house. There are two wheelie bins outside the front door – a black bin for non-recyclable rubbish and a green bin for recycling. All glass goes to the bottle bank (our council doesn’t collect it), and I take all textiles to textile recycling. I also make occasional trips to the tip for bigger items.

Read moreHow To Get Started With Zero Waste

Minimalism and Finding Yourself

Minimalism and finding yourself

I began decluttering purely because I felt overwhelmed by the physical clutter in my home. When I first started clearing my space, I felt an incredible sense of lightness. When I got more serious about minimalism, and was further along in my journey, I hit a bump in the road. Something I hadn’t anticipated is that finding yourself is a side effect of minimalism. And this made me feel very uncomfortable at first.

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Minimalist Home Tour – Real Life Minimalism With Kids

Minimalist home tour - real life minimalism with kids

A couple of caveats before I get started on my minimalist home tour.

Firstly, I am a normal mum with three normal kids. I did put away the toys that were on the floor before I took photos – my house isn’t permanently immaculate! But these photos aren’t staged. This is pretty much how it looks every time I put the toys away.

Read moreMinimalist Home Tour – Real Life Minimalism With Kids

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