Finding Relief in Minimalism

Half Paper Snowflake

Life is both beautiful and complex. But not every complexity is beautiful.

I adopted minimalism in response to living in a mess and having feelings of overwhelm that I’ve felt most of my life.  I’ve been working to reach some ideal of ‘clean’ and ‘minimal’ ever since,  with some level of success.  I know I don’t enjoy living in a mess.  However,  I learned recently that chemical imbalances in the brain can cause that feeling of overwhelm.  I’ve experienced feelings of being overwhelmed simply from a chemical imbalance, and  practicing minimalism has helped me.  
Staying Tuned In to My Body and Brain

Sometimes if I’m experiencing a chemical imbalance that leads to feeling overwhelmed, I will eventually realize it because the feelings will come when I try to accomplish things I can normally handle just fine.  For example,  when I’m doing household chores,  they aren’t necessarily pleasant,  but I can get some done.  If I’m feeling unusually overwhelmed, I’ll find myself sitting on the couch just watching TV instead of folding clothes while watching TV, no matter what my intentions are.  Or, I might find that I gave the feelings with no specific thing that triggered them. 

Dealing with the Feelings

Once I realize what’s going on, I can take action to combat the feelings.  When I feel overwhelmed, I’m not usually incapable of getting out of bed,  but can be easily confused and distracted. To combat feeling overwhelmed,  I might ask my husband to help me decide which chore to do, to help me get started on a task, or to go to the gym with me, since working out often helps.  If I’m at work, I might take a step back from what I’m doing (or most likely not doing) and take the decision process a bit more slowly,  or switch to a simpler task.  I will also re-evaluate my recent diet and supplement intake.  If I’m getting all the nutrients I need, maybe I’m experiencing PMS or maybe my body is having trouble absorbing those nutrients.  Fortunately,  I have a nutritionist I can talk with when I’m having trouble.  

Moving Clutter Quickly

Having fewer items in my home and on my desk at work has helped me when these feelings come along.  My house is always a little messy,  and I’m constantly cutting clutter because my husband and I both enjoy shopping and have generous families cutting their own clutter.  Having an easy, well-practiced decision-making framework helps us get junk out of our house quickly.  

Keeping Clutter Out

I also have high standards for items that come into our home.  My husband and I often have many conversations before we purchase an appliance, a storage solution,  or a piece of furniture.  We try to reach consensus before buying, which means a product has to meet his criteria for quality, functionality, and fit,  and my criteria for price, features, priority, and aesthetics.  We’re still relatively new homeowners, and the home improvement bug is a strong one. We still shop a lot, thinking it will make our lives easier or more convenient.  But at least with high standards for what comes into our home, we have fewer projects and more time to do them.  

Money and Bills

I personally feel overwhelmed at times when I see our bills and debt.  We both have student loans in addition to our mortgage.  In order to address these feelings, chemical or just situational, I have a plan for paying down our debt.  We’ve got a budget spreadsheet so we can track bills, and I learned how to amortize loans from the internet so that we could decide how much we wanted to pay on each one.  It may seem depressing to some to see each loan and that some won’t be paid off for at least ten years,  but really, before we knew how long, we just thought it would be forever.  I think part of being a minimalist is living free from debt.  We aren’t there yet,  but we take it one day at a time. 

We aren’t minimalists who don’t buy stuff,  or minimalists that only own 100 items.  However, minimalism is a journey and not a destination.  

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