Mental Health & Minimalism

I experience anxiety, predominantly Health Anxiety (formerly known as Hypochondria). By definition, Health Anxiety is an obsessive and irrational worry about having a serious or terminal medical condition. Someone with this type of anxiety lives in a constant state of concern that they are ill, regardless of medical results proving health. (See the infographic for more detailed information) As I try and deal with my anxiety and managing the symptoms that relate to it, I have been learning the importance of setting certain boundaries in my life to insure the health of my head and my heart. I have learned that WebMD should never be typed into my browser, limiting my stress can also limit my panic attacks and taking some time for self care is necessary, not selfish. Minimalism has been a beneficial addition to my life when it comes to managing those symptoms and giving myself the best possible chance at success. Keep reading for some helpful tips on integrating minimalism into your life to help with your mental health.

Clutter can make you more anxious: "Clutter can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase tension and anxiety and lead to unhealthy habits." The more clutter you see, the longer the to do list seems. Each room you walk into will be a visual reminder of all the things that need to be cleaned or organized or put away. By reducing your clutter and 'things' you have to manage, you ultimately reduce the amount of stress in your life. What you can do: Set aside 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each day to either put away, or remove items from your home. Ask "Does this item add value to my life?" If it isn't useful or you don't love it, remove it.

You won't be able to hide from your problems: Once you've decluttered your home, you have no other choice but to look inward. I have a theory that most minimalists follow a path - decluttering things, budget and spending, environmental impact, internal clutter, external clutter (relationships). A quiet space allows you to also have a quiet mind. At this point you not only have the space and freedom to asses your own toxic habits, but also the toxic relationships around you. Don't be afraid to say goodbye to people who are adding more negativity than positivity. Your own mental health is more important than their feelings.

What you can do: Be honest with yourself. Who encourages you and supports you? Who brings negativity and hostility? Set boundaries for yourself without any guilt. You don't have to eliminate those relationships completely, but you do need to think of yourself first.

Comparison is the thief of joy: With our lives circling around social media, it's like a giant black hole of garbage feelings. We see the highlight reel of peoples lives and feel down about our own. No one posts the fight they had with their husband or the dog vomit all over their carpet. It's easy for us to compare to these false lives and feel as though we don't measure up. Minimalism refocuses our mindset and turns our eyes and heart to what really matters. Life is no longer about 'things' or competition, it's about focusing on our own lives and what brings us joy. Consumerism, materialism and superficial thinking has no place within a minimalist lifestyle.

What you can do: Make sure to schedule in some tech-free days in your life. The best way to reduce your social media stressors is to detox yourself from social media. Start with something small, even 15 - 20 minutes, and slowly work yourself up to a full day. Focus this time on being grateful for what you have, and acknowledging the things in your life that bring you joy. If you are only focusing on what you don't have, that's all you will ever see.

The most important thing to remember is to take it slow. You won't be able to declutter or detoxify your life overnight or even in a few weeks. I have been on my minimalism journey for over 2 years and am still working on decluttering, setting boundaries and removing the 'toxins' in my life, but every step I took closer to minimalism was a step towards feeling lighter.

What are your tips to manage anxiety? Has minimalism helped you at all in your mental health journey? Drop us a line in the comments!