Simplify Your Life
Social worker Amy Morin says it very simply: “Everything in your life takes up space.”Whether it’s in your house or your mind, space is limited – and clearing out that space can make you feel better. As we get ready to leave the summer behind, take a little time to look at your life and declutter – both physically and mentally. Think of it as spring cleaning in the fall, with a benefit to your mental health.
Tips to help you simplify
Simplifying your life is a way to get rid of excess stress and live a happier, more relaxed life. It creates room for the things that are really important, and many people even find themselves wanting less once they start simplifying. Maybe you dream of living in a tiny house or on a houseboat. Maybe you just want a Sunday morning with an extra cup of coffee and the crossword. Whatever your vision of a simpler life includes, experts suggest trying some of the following:
· Slow down. You are not a machine. Slow down. Take some time to think before you move on to the next thing. Enjoy the sunshine or a second cup of coffee. Your tasks will be there when you get back.
· Get rid of clutter. Reduce the clutter in your life, whether physical or mental. Think about that houseboat – if you bring something on board, it has to have a purpose. If it doesn’t, take it back out.
· Stop multitasking. Our society has made multitasking a point of pride. But research indicates that when we multitask, we don’t do anything well. Do one thing at a time, do it well, and when it’s done, move on to the next thing.
· Unplug. On average, Americans check their phones 46 times a day. Almost half of us spend 5 or more hours looking at a screen. Unplugging can help you pay attention to those things that are really important to you.
· Do something you love. Exercise, get outdoors, or curl up with a good book. Prioritize time spent doing things you love to live a less stressful life.
· Evaluate your relationships. Are you spending too much time with people who don’t make you feel good? Distancing yourself from relationships that make you unhappy or stressed creates room for the people you truly care about.
· Reduce commitments. Learn the power of “no”. Practice saying no to commitments that aren’t about the people or things that are important to you. Reduce the clutter on your calendar.
· Take charge of your finances. Commit to taking charge of your money. Create a budget and establish clear goals, and your financial decisions will become much simpler.1
A little more about clutter
You might have noticed the suggestion above to “declutter”. But what is clutter? Clutter is the “stuff” that takes up space in your life. It can be physical—piles of paper, dirty dishes in the sink, clothes you don’t wear, toys the kids have outgrown. It can be electronic – an overfull inbox, too many open browser tabs, a schedule packed with meetings, or so many unused apps on your phone that it slows everything down. Our minds can feel cluttered too – full of anger, resentment, shame, or worry.
How can clutter affect my mental health?
Research has shown that when our lives are cluttered, our mental health suffers. Some of the effects include:
· Stress. A study conducted by researchers at UCLA showed that women who described their homes using words like “cluttered” or “unfinished” had higher levels of stress and felt more depressed than those who talked about how restful their homes were.
· Difficulty focusing. A cluttered space can be distracting and make your brain less able to process information.
· Memory issues. Your brain can only keep track of a few details at a time. Clutter overloads this capacity and can reduce working memory.
· Embarassment and Isolation. Having a cluttered house may make you embarassed to have people over, and increase a tendency to isolation.8
· Trouble sleeping. People who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have trouble falling asleep or be disturbed during the night.
Getting rid of clutter isn’t only an important part of simplifying your life, it’s key to your mental health. So take the time to go through your life and get rid of the things that are cluttering it up. You’ll feel better!