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CAN MINIMALISM BE THE KEY TO GOOD MENTAL HEALTH?


The world is witnessing more and more advertisements than ever before. Right from the television to the Internet, you are being told to develop a consumerist mindset to such a large extent that if you don’t buy things, you are bound to be unhappy. Minimalism as a concept has become the buzzword for many, in recent years, especially in the West. This concept states the opposite of what the ‘American Dream’ entails. People are trying to question and take a pause to take a look at this new concept and are wondering what it really is.

So, what is minimalism?


Minimalism implies the usage and utilization of minimal resources. The idea is to find value in the purchase that you make and question and analyze the purchase. Therefore, a minimalist will have things that they genuinely need and appreciate, in their lives, instead of hoarding items mindlessly.

Now does that mean that you have to give up everything?

No!

The idea is to give less value to materialistic things and develop a refreshing perspective towards them. As per Marie Kondo, who is a Japanese organizing consultant, an author, and a TV Show host has mentioned in her Netflix Show ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ that one should keep things that “spark joy” and if it doesn’t, you have to thank the item for adding value to your life. That is, ‘being human’ towards the item helps you to be more honest with yourself, thereby being mindful of your wants and your needs.


(Source: giphy.com) (A glimpse from Netflix Show ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo)

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to having a minimalist lifestyle. You might have the hobby of collecting coins but would prefer to minimize buying clothing items. We have to realize that it is the emotional value of items that matter and not necessarily the number.

Here’s how minimalism is associated with good mental health:

It helps you to let go: Cherishing things that add value and giving away things that don’t help to get rid of unnecessary items. Some items might be associated with unpleasant memories and though, it might sound overwhelming at first, it helps to let go of the unnecessary baggage- both structural and emotional.

(Source: Paul Gilmore on Unsplash)


Helps to overcome decision fatigue: The world of consumerism has given us too many options that we end up spending a lot of time making decisions. Less number of items helps to decide easily and therefore, also ensures that you pay attention to things that matter instead of feeling exhausted by making decisions on things that don’t matter.

(Source: Tenor)

Sense of control: The items don’t control you anymore, you control them; the purchases, their place in your life, and how you utilize them. Moreover, it will also help you to be creative with the minimal items that you have; for instance, pairing oxidized jewelry with a plain top to create an Indo-western outfit.


(Source: Tenor)

Makes you self-aware: Eventually, you start realizing more about yourself- your intentions behind certain choices, your needs, etc. This act of pondering and questioning will open your eyes to the red flags that you missed to see earlier; for instance, the kind of emotional bond that you share with certain people.


(Source: Tenor)

So, after reading this, do you want to get started? Here are 3 essential tips for you:

  1. Start small: Instead of giving up on everything, work on one aspect of your life first, for instance, your wardrobe. Check and see if there are any clothes that you need to give away and which ones you want to keep. Small wins will positively reinforce you to work on the other aspects as well. This will also ensure that you don’t give up when you feel overwhelmed.

  2. Always ask yourself questions: Ask questions when you purchase something. It could be: “Do you genuinely need this now?” “Can I manage if I don’t have this? This will lead to spending money mindfully, thereby saving your money.

  3. Keep a record of the items you’re giving away: Write the number or the name of the item on paper and keep the paper near your desk so that you can look and feel motivated enough to stay consistent.

If you are excited or curious to try minimalism, there are some things that you should know. Firstly, We all have to keep in mind that minimalism cannot be a magic pill for mental health issues; it cannot solve deeper complex issues. Seeking a therapist’s help is a must if you still have mental health issues. For that, you can check our article on helpline numbers here. Lastly, According to Saloni Srivastava, who is a YouTuber and an entrepreneur, it is important to not be in a rush to give labels. Minimalism is a lifestyle and not any kind of exam that you must follow all the rules. You are bound to make mistakes, feel overwhelmed, and experience frustration. Giving yourself labels will put a certain kind of social pressure on you. Or maybe, you might end up realizing that minimalism is not meant for you. And that is okay. Remember that your intent of making choices should make you happy and not miserable.

Author: Madhura Bilimogga Content Writer, Limelighting Life Collective


References:

Muller, R. T. (2019, February 7). What Can Minimalism Do for Mental Health? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/201902/what-can-minimalism-do-mental-health.

Esposito, L. (2016, December 22). Minimalism: When Living With Less Means More Mental Health. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-zen/201612/minimalism-when-living-less-means-more-mental-health.

Clear Your Mindset. (2019, April 21). IS MINIMALISM GOOD OR BAD FOR MENTAL HEALTH? | Anxiety, Stress, and Depression | My Experience [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ_YJ1qLK4o

Abundantly Minimal. (2019, October 10). Minimalism and Mental Health | World Mental Health Day [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPs9G1xHhrM&t=311s

Jones, M. (2018, September 11). 5 Ways Minimalism Is Good For Your Mental Health. A Conscious Rethink. https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/6881/minimalism-mental-health/

Williams, G (2017, March 21). Minimalism: Basic Principles of Minimalist Living