People are working long hours today. More than ever before. They have children with more extracurricular activities and in addition to working, you shuttle them from appointment to appointment and rush off to the next thing. While it can be exciting living a life with a packed schedule, it can also lead to stress due to the constant chaos. For anyone in search of a simpler life, you are not alone. The idea behind the simplicity movement started in the 90s, but it has grown in popularity because so many people feel overwhelmed by life’s stresses.
You know that saying about insanity being repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? That’s what we do in life. We have become accustomed to living life and doing things in a certain way, so we continue to do so.
We never stop to consider the fact that if we change these habits we can change our lives. You don’t need to continue living a life of stress. No, you can minimize and simplify your life and manage your stress.
Minimizing and simplifying provides you with freedom. You have the freedom to spend your time doing the things that you love to do. You have the energy to pursue the activities and hobbies you enjoy and have time for all of your friends and loved ones. Of course, the added benefit is a reduction in your living expenses and a serious decrease in stress.
Let’s talk through an example. Carly slept in after turning her alarm off and going back to sleep. She bounces out of bed, she rushes to shower and get dressed. She is in such a hurry that she manages to spill her cup of coffee on her outfit and has to run back upstairs to change. She gets out the door and is almost to the car when she realizes she left her purse inside. She runs back into the house to grab her purse, gets back to her car door and realizes she put her keys down when she went hunting for her purse.
She finally gets behind the wheel and hits the road, only to find herself caught in traffic.
Carly’s mood is low, she is feeling frustrated, stressed out, and her temper is short. She honks her horn at everyone and by the time she gets to work, she isn’t just mad, she’s late. She finds herself sitting behind her cluttered desk, scowling at every colleague who speaks to her. Her inbox is out of control, she has misplaced the report her boss asked for, and she’s running behind for a meeting. Before she can think about the meeting, though, she has to finish another task.
Things aren’t looking good for Carly, her day started off bad and descended into utter chaos. She ends up getting home late from work, completely stressed and totally exhausted. All she can think about is the work she left behind and what lays in wait for her tomorrow. She needs to get dinner on, the house is a total mess, and her kids didn’t do their chores as asked. She’s barely home when it’s time to go to bed and do it all over again. This might sound extreme, but you probably experience at least one day a week that goes much like Carly’s day has. It’s just an example of what can happen in a day, that’s not even factoring in emergencies.
Stress And The Benefits Of Minimizing And Simplifying
- LESS STRESS
- Peace of mind
- Increased productivity
- Cost efficient
- More time for people and more time for the activities and hobbies you love
The director of New York’s Trends Research Institute, Gerald Celente, has said that as many as 7% of American adults are involved, in some way, in the simplicity movement. In 1996, that number was around just 3% of Baby Boomers. (Source)
The demands on our time and energy are growing. It’s important to note at this moment that living a simple life does not mean that you must do without. For some people, it might, but it doesn’t have to if you don’t want it to. Instead, it’s about living life for life, rather than chasing possessions.
It’s all about slowing down and smelling the roses. Simplicity is for the people who want to live a balanced life, who strive to be thoughtful and more deliberate. All these lead to a much healthier and happier life.
Stress doesn’t just affect you mentally, it can have serious physical health effects, too. The Mayo Clinic says there are numerous studies linking high blood pressure to stress. One study, from the University of California, Irvine,found that men in high-stress jobs had blood pressure ten points higher than men working less stressful positions (Source).
Another study that indicates the toll of stress on physical health was one from the University of Alabama and Ohio State University. In this study, researchers discovered people with high levels of debt were in poor physical health when compared to people with less debt (Source).
You may have noticed the recent trend of tiny houses. Every DIY channel has some form of programming related to the phenomenon. This is just another form of simple living. Mental health professionals have started to focus on just how effective simple living can be on things like anxiety, insomnia, pain and spasms in the neck and shoulders, as well as chronic fatigue.
We are all guilty of buying into the consumer trap that without certain things in our lives we are not worthy. There’s a scramble to get on the housing ladder, yet it has never been more difficult to get your foot on that first wrung. Which is why the trend of tiny houses has become popular. It isn’t just about it being an affordable, low-cost option. It’s about bringing a simplicity to life.
We have spent a lifetime chasing happiness by feeding an addiction to consumerism. Having the most stylish clothes gives you a boost of confidence, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to slip in the stress of debt. There are so many different stresses that can fuel ill health.
Which is why minimizing, and simplifying can change your life. Right now, you probably feel so stressed out that you have no idea how and where to start with simplifying your life. Don’t worry, we’ve put together some hints and tips on how best you can tackle the process.
40 Ways To Minimize And Simplify your Life
Start by identifying your stressors. Determine what it is that fuels your stress and learn how to eliminate them or at least manage them. Now look at your calendar and determine what commitments you have that are wholly unnecessary. Consider how much stress they cause, the value they have to you, and start cutting out what isn’t necessary.
Deal with your procrastination habit, it’s something that we all do, but when we let things pile up around us they just stress us out. So, bear this in mind as you ignore your priorities and feel stress nipping at your toes. While we all have our own versions of an organization, we are all disorganized in our own ways. Learn how best to organize your life in a way that relieves your stress.
You can’t minimize or simplify your life without doing these things, now let’s look at some other helpful tips that can help you relieve your stress.
1. Wipe Your Technology
Don’t panic, we don’t mean to wipe everything. However, going through your contacts and deleting old names and numbers will make it easier to locate the people that you do speak to. It also means you don’t have as many contacts to sift through or old reminders about the people who are no longer in your life.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to open your email account. Do you waste time each day deleting junk mail?
Unsubscribe, delete, and move on. Clear out everything that you no longer need. You have no idea how stressful it can be seeing those little notifications that are letting you know your inbox has 100s of messages you can’t handle looking at.
2. A Personal Planner
The best way to stay on schedule is to use a personal planner. So, make a note of appointments, write down everyone’s doctor and orthodontist appointments when you schedule them. Put in reminders about tax season and software updates.
Remind yourself of when your car needs a tune-up and when the oil needs changed. Don’t let life surprise you in a bad way, these reminders should also be looked at when you create your monthly budget.
You can create a separate planner that tracks important birthdays and anniversaries, too. You can place it with your planner or calendar and use it every year. Just add new birthdays as necessary.
3. Take Advantage of Your Locality
Traveling is fun, but it’s stressful. So, if you are keen to travel, but you are too stressed out to even think about packing to go abroad, stay local. There are plenty of activities and attractions in your local area.
So, find the hiking trails, check out the museums, discover gardens, and explore your community. Adventure is right on your doorstep. Not only will it save you money, it will save the hassle that comes with traveling.
4. Online Shopping
Shopping can be stressful – you have to deal with the traffic in the parking lots, the stores are busy, the lines are long, and it just adds to your stress. Why not just shop online and save yourself the hassle?
5. Airplane Mode Or Silent
For the most part, when your phone rings or dings with a notification, it’s not an emergency situation. So, why do you jump to attention like it’s a life or death message? Put your phone on airplane mode, set it to silent, and take some time for yourself. Just because someone is calling you doesn’t mean you have to answer. You don’t have to reply to a text within seconds of receiving it. You don’t owe anyone your emotional labor.
6. Forget the Land Line
If you have a phone, then why would you pay for a land line? You really don’t need it for any reason. Even if you make international calls, you can use the chat features of a variety of apps. They cost absolutely nothing.
7. Turn The TV Off
You might be surprised by how stressful it is to keep up with all the television programs you enjoy. You find yourself organizing your life around these shows even though you can record them and watch them when you are free to. Try limiting how often you watch and instead use your time for more productive activities. Another tip don’t keep a television in your bedroom. It can interrupt your sleep pattern.
8. Online Banking
It isn’t just about online banking, use your online banking to pay all of your bills. You can set up direct debits and let your bank automatically make payments to certain people in a certain amount. Why sit down and deal with paying the bills every month when you can set up an automatic payment schedule? Less stress and time saving.
9. Home Grown
There are a few big reasons you should grow your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits at home. First, you don’t need to worry about chemicals. Secondly, it’s cheaper, so you don’t need to spend a fortune on your fresh produce. You also don’t need a large garden to do this, you can easily grow vegetables and herbs on a windowsill or a balcony. You can create a vertical herb garden in little space, too. There are options here, so don’t write off this idea. Additionally, when you have these fresh food options on hand, you’re more likely to cook fresh. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s simple.
You might find it helpful to cook extra so that you can freeze additional portions for use at a later date. This is especially handy for anyone who lives alone.
10. Gifts & Cards On Standby
If buying presents and cards is a last-minute, stressful situation for you then buy ahead of time. Keep a small file with cards for every occasion that you can grab as needed. You can also buy gifts in sales and keep them on-hand.
Go room by room to de-clutter your home and start with the smallest room so you don’t feel overwhelmed. You can do this in stages if it makes it easier. You can drop your goods off at a thrift shop once a week or sell your wares online. Or, you can hold a yard sale. Spend an hour or two each day to clear your room. Don’t forget to reward yourself.
You don’t have to buy a tiny home (unless you want to), but you may want to consider downsizing your home. It’s fairly common for people to buy a large house because it’s a financial investment. However, no one ever considers how much more time it takes to clean that big house. They don’t consider the cost of heating and air conditioning or other maintenance issues related to a large home. The smaller your home the less space you have to accumulate clutter.
13. Healthy and Simple
The fewer ingredients you use the less time it will take. Take advantage of the internet to find recipes that are quick and healthy. If you have the space, then stock up on non-perishables you use often. This will reduce the times you need to run to the supermarket. Don’t forget to use your spice rack.
14. Buy Less Stuff
It’s difficult to maintain a tidy home when you continue to buy things you really don’t need. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. It won’t just help you keep your home clutter-free, it will also reduce your spending and reduce your stress.
15. Don’t Make Comparisons
One of the things that drives stress is making comparisons to others. When you are busy measuring yourself against everyone else it’s easy to slip into bad habits like buying things you can’t afford, just so you can say you have it, too. Their successes do not take away from what you have accomplished. Your happiness should not hinge on whether you are more successful than someone else. Learn to show gratitude for everything you have.
16. Enjoy Life’s Simple Things
If you learn how to slow life down and enjoy the simple things, then it really doesn’t matter what type of situation you find yourself in. You will always be able to find the silver lining in a situation. So, enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. Close your eyes and breathe deep as the bacon is sizzling. Take joy in the sticky fingers of your toddler.
17. Reassess Your Goals
So, when you reassess your goals and priorities, take a long look at where you are. Cut some out and focus on the ones you really care about.
18. Learn How To Say No
Your life is hectic. Do you blame family life? Your career? All of the other responsibilities you have? This is a wake-up call. Start saying no!
Yes, you can say no when you don’t have time for things. It’s the key to living a simpler life. If it isn’t a priority, if you don’t want to do it, start saying no.
Just because you say no, though, doesn’t mean that you’re closing yourself off from responsibilities or opportunities. One of the easiest ways to say no, but still keep people happy is by delegating. If your children are old enough, they can help around the house. If you are in a leadership position, let go of some of the tasks you know your employees should be handling.
20. Cleaning Service
If you can afford a cleaning service, then consider hiring one. Even if it’s every two or three weeks. It doesn’t mean that you can stop cleaning, it just means that your cleaning is simple maintenance. This should help free up your evenings and weekends.
Hear me out here. A nanny is an expensive proposition. However, you can save serious time by using a nanny. The nanny can handle the carpool run for the kids and you don’t have to. Half of your stress comes from running around with kids in the first place. This might be a helpful trick for anyone who never has enough time.
22. Deal with Debt
We already mentioned that debt is tied to health problems. One of the ways you can deal with your debt is by creating a budget. Your budget should be manageable, but strict. Focus on paying off each debt.
23. Lose The Negative Relationships
Solid relationships are vital to your health and happiness. We all have friends we turn to when we’re feeling down. They are the ones who help you pick yourself up and celebrate your major joys.
You rely on them as much as they rely on you. However, negative relationships can be seriously damaging to your happiness and health. You don’t need critical friends. You don’t need friends that are more interested in competing with you, than being your friend. No one wants unpredictable friends that are toxic. These toxic friendships are draining you, so don’t entertain them anymore. It will save you a serious amount of frustration if you just let go.
We already pointed out how helpful online banking can be, but there are other ways to save time and simplify your life through automation. For example, use timers to control your lights, your sprinklers, your coffee machine, and HVAC system. You only need to set the timers once and then you never need to worry about this again.
25. Don’t Live Beyond Your Means
While everyone knows that you can’t buy happiness, we still end up with debt and worry as we spend to try to fill a hole. The best way to avoid this trap is by living within your means. It won’t be easy, but it is possible. Start by getting rid of your credit cards. You might want to keep one for absolute emergency situations but start a savings account for rainy day spending and once you have a healthy fund you can ditch the plastic.
If there’s a big purchase you want to make, then don’t do it until you have the money saved up for it.
26. Mix It Up
Don’t get caught up on silly things – don’t give into conflict just because someone is picking a fight with you. As tempting as it might be, it’s easier to walk away. This goes for real-life situations and on social media.
27. Sleep Schedule
You should get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time each night. This should be your schedule seven days a week, not just when you’re working. However, if you are always rushing around like a headless chicken and you struggle to get anywhere on time… you might want to start getting up earlier. 20 minutes should be more than enough, it will help you start your day off right, instead of in a stressed state.
It may also be helpful for you to aim to be 10 minutes early wherever you go. This will help you manage your time a bit more efficiently.
28. Focus On One Task
Women love to brag about how much more efficient they are at multi-tasking than men. However, multi-tasking is merely the key to unlocking serious stress levels. So, instead of trying to spread your attention to multiple tasks at once, shut everything and everyone out and give your full attention to just one thing at a time. You’ll soon realize that your work is better, and you finish it quicker when you focus.
29. Keep Notes
Simplify your day by keeping a list of your priorities. If you write a to-do list with 25 things on it there’s a good chance you won’t finish it. Then you will end your day feeling frustrated. You’re just going to fuel your stress levels by doing this, so do the most important things first.
30. Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes
The fear of failure keeps us from acting, and one of the easiest ways to simplify your life is by accepting that you will fail and it’s okay. Every day is a school day, you’re going to learn something new daily, you will encounter new people with different opinions, so be open to learning from others.
Don’t get caught up in replying to every email as soon as it arrives. Set aside a specific time to deal with email and reply in batches. Don’t use 1,000 words when just a few will do. Try to keep your emails to 5 sentences or less.
32. Assign Everything A Home
Everything has its place and when it isn’t being used it should be in the home that you assigned it. It means you can find everything you need when you need it and keep your home and office clutter-free.
When you log your emotions and thoughts into a journal it provides you with a great way to work through challenges to find appropriate solutions. You can also use the journal to track your results. It’s simple.
34. Don’t Like It? Don’t Do It
We all change, so just because you once liked doing something doesn’t mean that you have to continue doing it when you don’t enjoy it anymore. That is whether it’s your job, a community group, a church or a local sport’s team you play for. If you don’t like it, if you don’t love it, just don’t do it! Change is good.
35. A Simple Workspace
Everything else should be cleared and in their proper places. This should help you remain focused. It isn’t just about de-cluttering your desk, it’s about keeping your mind de-cluttered, too.
36. Plan on Sundays
Organize your week on a Sunday, dedicate just 15 minutes to schedule the week ahead. It’s going to make life a lot simpler when you sit down and organize yourself to reduce stress.
37. Cancel Subscriptions
If you subscribe to channels and magazines that you never watch or read, then just cancel them. Not only will it save you money, it will save you from flicking through extra channels and stacking up magazines. Why invite clutter?
38. Live Your Dream
Are you truly living your dream, or have you been caught up in trying to make others happy? The simplest way to minimize your life is removing the static that comes from living a life that you don’t feel is your own. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams.
39. Question Yourself
It might be helpful for you to check in with yourself and ask the question: Am I keeping my life simple?
If you can’t honestly say that you are, then ask whether the issues you’re stressing about will even matter in five years or five weeks from this moment. When stress is getting the better of us it’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill.
40. Just Relax
When you use the tips and hints above, you will have more time and money to do the things that you enjoy doing. Which means you have the time to be a bit lazy and relax. Whether that means spending time with the family or indulging your favorite hobbies. It’s all about simplifying your life to relieve your stress and provide you with the time you need to recharge your batteries.
We all see simplicity differently. How you minimize your life is up to you, however, many of the tips above are useful for everyone.
This is because we are all guilty of many of the same things.
We are all guilty of making decisions that fuel our stress, rather than making the right decision. What is relaxing to me, might not be relaxing to you. So, it’s important to remember that we all need different things from life.
It’s impossible to live a stress-free life. Stress is how we respond to challenges and change in life and it’s impossible to navigate life without dealing with change and challenge. However, you can edit your life, adjust habits, and eliminate stressors to manage your stress levels.
A lot of our stress is completely unnecessary. So, by taking the steps above, you can minimize and simplify your life and curb stress. It won’t happen overnight, but it is possible.
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