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How A Minimalistic Lifestyle Can Reduce Stress

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

If you are reading this article from your office, bedroom or living room, look around the room. If there was a fire (which I hope will never happen to you), what would you grab before running out the door?

What was that one thing or do you want to grab everything? What is the memory, or value that you place on that item or items? Did you find it hard to focus on one item as there were so many items in the room?

I worked in an industry for many years that was notorious for their managers and directors to move locations every few years. Not just from one town to another but from one country to another. For me, one of the things I collected while living in different locations was local art, in particular miniature 2 dimensional houses, that would replicate the housing design of that location. People also started gifting me this artwork when they found out it was something that I was interested in. As my collection grew, and I did not have enough wall space to display the art, I found that I put the artwork into storage as it became a fragile and heavy item to keep moving. I also found that it lost its appeal as art and had become clutter. Knowing the love and effort the artist had put into these pieces and not being able to appreciate made me sad that they were sitting in storage. So after a lot of thought and research, I gifted them to a geography teacher at a school to use visual aids to help her students understand housing in different locations.

The mini-houses for me had become clutter, which I saw every night when I went home and that added to my already stressful life. When I was able to use this art as a teaching aid for children and clean up my clutter, it eliminated stress on so many levels.

There has been research on surrounding yourself with clutter and things and how it relates to chaos and higher stress in your life. Your home is supposed to be your sanctity and with more people moving to remote working, your sanctity is also your office. If you see clutter and disorganization from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed, you don't get a break from chaos, which adds to chronic stress, depression and anxiety.

There are a few steps you can take right now to reduce your stress and move towards a more minimalistic and organized life.

  1. Start with making your bed. If you don't have the energy to organize anything else in your day, at least start with making your bed. And I am not talking about just throwing the comforter across the other side, take one minute and straighten and tuck in the sheets, organize the pillows, then put the comforter in place.

  2. Have One Book, Not Ten. Since we are in in your bedroom, look at your bedside table or the floor beside your bed. Do you have ten books piled high that you are "going to read"? Keep one book and move the others out of the room, or better yet, if they did not interest you after the first three chapters, consider donating them. Read one great book at a time and you will feel accomplished and understand the story better. Similarly, if you have ten phone/Ipad chargers, twelve nik naks, nail clippers and coffee cups, remove them and either donate them or put them back where they below. By minimizing what you surround yourself with when trying to go to sleep at night, it reduces your stress, providing you with better sleep.

  3. Hang Up Your Clothes. I have found some clients feel its like they have gone on a shopping spree when they rediscover clothes that have been hiding under mounds of other clothes. It is also a good idea to donate clothing that you have not worn in over a year. Yes, we know that trends repeat but did those 6" platform sandals or that polyester leisure suit look that good when it was a current trend?

  4. Organize You Desk. For so many, home is also the office now and as we go through the day, the coffee cups, notebooks, files, kids artwork, plates and crumbs get piled up. Before you start your next day, take the time to look at your desk/office. Is this how you feel about your work? Clutter, disorganized? Of course you don't want to feel this way and the best way to re-approach work from a fresh set of eyes is to change what your eyes see. Put the notebooks in order, put your dishes in the kitchen where they belong, buy a cork board where you can hang your kids artwork, and wipe off the dust and dirt from your desk and keyboard. Cleaning up your environment and what your eyes see will help you start the day more organized and less stressed.

  5. If You Can't Get Organized, Consider Finding Someone Who Can. It can be overwhelming to organize clutter and if you are dealing with anxiety and high stress, it can be difficult to get started. There are people who are professional organizers and cleaners and love to do it. Or maybe your sister loves to clean and organize, its okay to ask for help if this is overwhelming for you.

By removing clutter and moving towards minimizing what surrounds you, it provides you with a visual of less chaos. Imagine starting your day with your bed made, your office organized and less things to worry about. It could change your world.


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