There are so many how-tos on the Internet dedicated to enhancing mental well-being — from going on social media detox to squeezing in early morning workouts to writing down five things you’re grateful for. However, there’s a more effective way to achieve mental clarity, and it requires only two things — a box and a broomstick.
The process of decluttering can work wonders for your mental health. Numerous studies show the connection between a minimalist lifestyle and mental well-being. Find out below:
Clutter as Stressors
When you eliminate clutter in your home, you are removing stressors in your life.
Research shows that a messy environment can cause psychological distress. The sight of unkempt closets and messy office desks can lead to feelings of stress. When you’re stressed, you develop a string of bad habits such as excessive eating, oversleeping, and binge-watching, which are detrimental to your health. But what is the science behind this?
Well, when you’re surrounded by clutter, your adrenal glands produce stress hormones called cortisol. These hormones are transported to your bloodstream and activate your flight-or-fight response, revving up your heart rate and increasing your blood pressure. Increased cortisol levels can negatively impact your body as it slows down metabolism, disrupts the sleep cycle, triggers anxiety, and causes depression. So, constant exposure to a chaotic environment can take a toll on both your physical well-being and mental health.
Aside from that, disorganized spaces also disrupt your cognitive function. Too much visual stimuli in the environment can tire out the brain. When it cannot take in excessive amounts of stimuli, the brain struggles to maintain focus and concentration. These little distractions in your surroundings can overwhelm the visual cortex, making it more difficult for you to process information.
Minimalism as a Self-Discovery
Believe it or not, a minimalist lifestyle is a discovery of the most important things in life. According to Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are full-blown minimalists, when you eliminate nonessential, you can make room for your true sources of happiness.
Often, the difficulty of living a minimalist lifestyle is caused by your close association with material possessions. In this day and age, it’s challenging to resist temptation, especially with the sight of sales and discounts everywhere.
However, studies show that this fondness for material possessions can decrease your overall well-being. Researchers found out that people’s primary motivation to buy things is to project an identity and regulate negative emotions.
When you do things to stay up-to-date or to feel good about yourself, you won’t be able to cultivate a healthy mind. You’ll be overwhelmed with unnecessary pressure and high levels of insecurity.
However, when you live a minimalist lifestyle, you free yourself from the belief that material things can give you happiness or a sense of identity. In some way, you are liberated from the shackles of consumerism.
When you live with less, you realize that material possessions are not the source of your happiness and fulfillment. You learn how these things are just occupying unnecessary space but don’t add value to your life.
If you get rid of what you don’t need in your home, you’ll be surrounded by things that truly serve a purpose to you. You’ll be able to know what makes you happy and what only adds stress in your life. If anything, that little show of self-awareness can be life-changing for you.
The Art of Letting Go
How do you start the process of letting go? Get rid of the items that are only collecting dust in your house. They can be those vintage knick-knacks on your dresser, the pile of clothes shoved at the back of your closet, and the collection of vinyl hidden under your bed. If they rarely see the light of day, you probably don’t need them.
Toss out items that you don’t regularly use and keep only the things that are useful to you. For instance, you need a custom railing, swinging door, or safety device. You can still install them in your home. Living a minimalist life is placing a premium on functionality above all else.
Also, when you’re trying to live with less, introduce multi-purpose items to your home. They can be a pressure and rice cooker rolled into one, a collapsible bucket that can be used as a watering can, a toaster slash oven, Swiss army knife with different specialized tools. Not only will these items help you save space, but they will also save you a couple of bucks.
Meanwhile, when redesigning your home, go for space-saving furniture. There are practical storage sofas, under-sink storage racks, and shoe storage benches that will not eat up a great chunk of your place. Don’t forget that the golden rule in building a minimalist home is to minimize your items and maximize the space.
Indeed, eliminating clutter in your house is such a cathartic experience. So, if you want to achieve mental well-being in the simplest way possible, then it’s time to pick up that broomstick and start packing.