This summer, we will get to hear from many people whose lives have been forever changed by minimalism. Not all of the people who will guest post for this series consider themselves minimalists, and that’s exactly what I wanted. Even applying one minimalist principle to your life can make an impact.
For as long as I remember, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. There are many things that have helped me improve my mental health. Looking back, I know that it was my faith, therapy, sharing with others, and minimalism that has helped me get to where I am today.
Yes, I know that last one may sound weird, but there are actually many ways minimalism improved my mental health over the last few years.
(I am in no way suggesting that minimalism will cure mental health issues. I am simply sharing one of the tools that has helped me improve my own mental health.)
If you are struggling with mental health issues, please reach out to a mental health professional right away. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website HERE.
My Mental Health Story
Like I said earlier, my struggle with depression and anxiety started a long time ago when I was just a kid. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time…it was my normal.
It wasn’t until I was an adult, married with two kids, that I realized I had a problem. That even though this was my normal, it wasn’t meant to be. So until 9 years ago, it went undiagnosed.
I finally could see that the way I saw the world, and the way I processed it, was unhealthy. It wasn’t what God wanted for me, and I had to learn to depend on Him more and stop thinking God made me this way.
I was missing out on so much life with that mindset! So, I told my husband, sought out professional help, and things finally started to turn around.
It was (and is) a long process with many ups and downs. When I was up, I would share my struggles with other people. This helped me find purpose in my life again and realize that I wasn’t alone when I inevitably experienced another low.
And, talking through my depression with others helped me realize some causes for my depression and ways to cope with (and even sometimes prevent) my deepest times of depression.
I became crazy self-aware. I realized that I could literally feel a deep depression coming on before it was actually here.
Paying more attention to my body and how I was feeling allowed me to put some much needed self-care into practice right when I most needed it. This is what would sometimes actually prevent times of deep depression so that they became less and less frequent.
Minimalism and Mental Health: A New Tool
I wasn’t looking for another tool to improve my mental health when I found minimalism. It was a natural progression from becoming more self-aware. I knew that having too much and doing too much was causing me a lot of stress. And that stress led to anxiety and sometimes depression.
I didn’t feel like I was good enough, because I couldn’t handle “it all”. I looked around and it seemed like others had more and did more than me and were doing just fine. So, what was wrong with me?
Finally, I decided that enough was enough…literally.
I needed to stop comparing what I had and did with others and start doing what was right for me. If having a full schedule was causing more harm than good, then it wasn’t worth it. And if having a house full of toys and clothes and stuff was making me stressed, then that life wasn’t for me.
I slowly began minimizing the things that were causing me stress or holding me back from the life I wanted…a life of joy, peace, and fulfillment.
Over time, I had decluttered much of my belongings, and I kept my schedule as open as possible. I learned to be more mindful and live in the moment. I started enjoying my life again and finding so much purpose in each and every day.
That’s because, frankly, I was finally living MY LIFE instead of someone else’s.
It hasn’t been perfect, and I have experienced much disappointment and sorrow along the way. But, each day brings me more hope than it ever did before. Each day I am able to live intentionally so that I am moving towards my ideal life…the life that God wants for me.
8 Ways Minimalism Improved My Mental Health
I used minimalism and simplifying as a tool to better my life. Minimalism improved my mental health because it literally allowed me to eliminate some of what was causing me stress, and leading to depression and anxiety.
There are so many health benefits of minimalism. Here are some of the ways minimalism improved my mental health, and is still continuing to do so today:
1. Minimalism minimized my mental clutter
It was minimalism that helped me take my self-care one step further. Minimalism helped me identify thoughts that were cluttering my mind so that I could begin taking steps to remove them.
2. Minimalism removed my physical clutter
With minimalism comes removing any clutter from your home. All of the stuff in my home was adding unnecessary stress to my life. Decluttering was freeing.
When I didn’t have too much stuff in my home, I was no longer constantly overwhelmed. Instead, I found it calming and relaxing to be in my home. It became a much-needed sanctuary for this introvert to unwind.
3. Minimalism eliminated clutter on my schedule
Minimalism helped me discover my priorities and cut out anything from my schedule that didn’t line up with them.
Obviously there are some things that you can’t completely eliminate, but I was able to minimize my non-priorities enough where they were no longer taking over my life. I am now able to prioritize self-care, hobbies, and the people I love.
4. Minimalism reduced my stress
Minimalism improved my mental health by reducing my stress levels and how frequently I felt overwhelmed. With less in my home and on my schedule, I was no longer over-stimulated by everything on my plate.
There is simply less to worry about. Fewer decisions need to be made, and the decisions I need to make are easier.
5. Minimalism increased my energy
With less responsibility came an increase in energy. I’m not feeling bogged down by having too much to do on a regular basis.
There are always going to be days that are crazy busy. That’s mostly unavoidable. But, because I have been intentional with my time and energy, I am able to handle those busy times when they come much better.
6. Minimalism gave me more freedom
Minimalism gives you more space…in your home, on your schedule, and in your mind. And, more space = freedom.
When you have more space, you have the freedom to live the kind of life you want and experience true fulfillment! When your mind isn’t cluttered, you can live mindfully in the moment and enjoy your life more.
Minimalism improved my mental health by helping me see clearly. I was able to be content, because I learned to appreciate more and experience more gratitude.
7. Minimalism put an end to my guilt
Growing in my minimalist mindset allowed me to put an end to my guilt. I experienced so much guilt because I didn’t feel like I was living up to anyone’s expectations, including my own.
When I was able to get clear on my priorities in life, the guilt for not “doing it all” stopped. I was better able to say no when that was needed. And, I felt good about what I could accomplish in a day, because what was most important to me was precisely what I got done.
Minimalism improved my mental health by helping me stop comparing myself to those around me. I began to focus on my life, my purpose, and my beliefs.
What others think no longer matters all that much. I feel good about my decisions, because I know that they will cause me to look back at my life with no regrets one day.
8. Minimalism gave me back a sense of purpose
Finally, minimalism improved my mental health by helping me focus on what’s truly important to me. Where I was living a life I never wanted before, I am now living a life of purpose that is unique to me. I am not trying to fit in and be “normal”.
And, I am no longer just doing what I think others expect of me. I filter every decision through the vision I believe God has for me, and I try to unapologetically live it out.
How Can I Use Minimalism to Improve My Mental Health?
After seeking professional help, consider applying minimalist principles to your life. There is definitely a connection between minimalism and mental health!
Think about what causes you stress and leads you down the road of poor mental health, and minimize exactly those things. Identify the clutter in your home, mind, and time. Start small, and start on the most important.
Finally, replace the clutter in your mind with good, positive truth. Practice mindfulness to become more self- and others- aware. Make sure that what’s important to you is what gets done so that you can look back on each day and know that it was well lived. 😊
My battle with depression and anxiety isn’t over, but minimalism is an amazing tool that is helping me win more than I lose.
Minimalism improved my mental health by helping me remove clutter from my mind, home, and schedule. Applying minimalist principles caused a weight to be lifted from my life, and I know that it can do the same for you.