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Mindfulness Monday: Give Yourself Some Space

Light, airy, open, free….how do these words make you feel?  In modern day life it’s easy to feel weighed down.  Maybe that’s why the idea of minimalism has been popping up more and more in books, on television, and on social media.  For the unfamiliar, minimalism might conjure images of tiny homes and feelings of lack but it doesn’t necessitate either of those things.   My favorite definition of minimalism is keeping what truly matters while letting go of all the rest.  This could apply to items in your home, obligations, relationships….for the purpose of this post we will keep the focus on physical stuff.

Practicing a bit of minimalism allows you to sift through the debris that has built up over the years and find the gold.  What does minimalism have to do with wellness? Simplifying, whether it be pairing down your shoe collection or cleaning out your cupboards, has been proven to make humans happier.  People often suffer from something called decision fatigue.  From the time we get up to the time we go to bed we make a million tiny decisions.  Unfortunately, we only have a finite amount of brain power to do so.  Pairing down the number of choices we make in a day, whether it be what shoes to wear to work or what to eat for breakfast, can save more brain power for the important stuff.  It can also alleviate the stress that comes from fear of making the wrong choice.  Aside from the decision fatigue theory, creating more open space in your life allows for more flexibility, focus, and freedom.

Curious about how to begin?  Here are a few simple ideas to play with at home:

Create wide open spaces: Even in the smallest of apartments, room to move is crucial for overall comfort.  Constantly bumping into large pieces of furniture or tripping over shoes makes for a stressful environment.  See where you can minimize to create more open space.  Do you really need a full size sofa or could you do with a love seat?  Can that stool double as an end table?  Online groups like Buy Nothing will even come to your home and remove large items like furniture for free.  As a bonus, you’ll have more room for striking a yoga pose or having spontaneous dance parties.

Consider your counters:  Does making a meal in your kitchen make you feel crazy? Cluttered counters are less than inviting and can be one more reason not to cook healthy meals at home.  Keeping only what is essential on the countertop is one way to free up space.  If it’s used every day, keep it out.  If it’s not, store it in a cupboard.

Test out your resolve: Hesitant to clean out your closet for fear of getting rid of something you might miss one day?  Take a test run.  Pack up what you think you might want to give away and put it in the trunk of your car for a week or two.  If you miss it, take it back out.  If you don’t, drive it over to the Salvation Army or some other such charity where it can do some good.

You don’t have to dive in head first.  Dip your toes in and practice minimalism minimally to see what it can do for you.

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Free as a bird!  Photo Credit: my mom.  Isn’t she talented?

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