This is the third instalment in my mental series about the dangers of never decluttering, and in this post I want to talk about how to be more mindful and minimal in your home. I believe that minimalism and mindfulness go hand and hand, and minimalism is something I want to embrace, and have for some time. I have made major improvements in my life and home towards being minimal. And after seeing what happens to a home that is never decluttered, like my grandmother’s, I want to be sure to continue to be mindful and minimal going forward. Especially since, it’s been shown that clutter can increase our cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and thus, affect our mental health.
In fact, during my pregnancy, when we we were waiting for the floors to be done, and there was stuff moved around and cluttering up areas, I became so overwhelmed by the stuff that I just stopped trying to pick up and put away because things did not have a home when they should have, and I didn’t know where to place them. I felt as though I was just shuffling things around, and it became confusing and frustrating and so I gave up. Likely, being pregnant made the situation harder for me, as I was tired and hormonal. But, it goes to show that clutter really affects our mental state. Since I never want to feel that way again, I really do need to embrace minimalism and mindfulness in my home more fully.
What is Minimalism?
I think many of us think of minimalism as living a very spartan life, with only things that serve a very functional purpose, in our lives. But, that is not what minimalism has to be, although it can be if you want that kind of lifestyle; rather minimalism is more about mindfulness. What minimalism is then, is eliminating the things that don’t really matter, and intentionally focusing on what does matter to you, and hanging on to those things. For instance, in my life, books really matter, so when we renovated we made sure to plan a space for my books as I really value and love my books.
People who practice minimalism, or who just want to be more mindful in their home and lifestyle, ask themselves three key questions:
- Do I use it?
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
Key to becoming more minimalist is starting small. You have to crawl before you walk after all. It is hard to declutter and let go of items, especially sentimental items, so really be intentional about this instead of just going on a tossing rampage. If you aren’t sure, set it aside to decide later. Decluttering is actually mentally draining because you are constantly making a decision, so be gentle with yourself and yourself. Take breaks too!
Be sure to remember that a minimalist’s home looks different for every minimalist. What is essential for you, might not be essential for others. Keep items that have meaning and purpose.
Minimalism also includes living a lifestyle that is focused on clarity and intentionality in that, you include in your life only those things that really matter and promote the things we most value while removing the things that distract us. Since minimalism looks so different for everyone, let’s explore another way to being more mindful in the home.
Feng shi is the practice and philosophy of arranging pieces in your home to help balance the natural world. The goal is to harness and balance peace between you and your environment. Since Feng shi an ancient practice that focuses on balancing the energies of any given space to encourage and promote the health of those living in that space. Since both people and things have energy, items need to be arranged in a way so as to allow energy (chi) to flow, it seems natural to me that you would want this space to free of clutter which could impede the efforts of arranging and placing items to balance and create peace in the home. I have used some of these principles in my own home and found the results restful and functional.
Since the practice of feng shi is both ancient and complex, I can’t really outline it fully and properly, as I’m not an expert. However, I have discovered that implementing some of these practices can have great mental health benefits as the practice focuses on how to arrange items and it has been shown that home design can have a restful and beneficial affect on our mood and even our mental health.
For instance, one of the tenants of fun shi is to clear pathways for feng shi. That is, don’t have clutter or large items in areas where the energy can be blocked. Ever had too much stuff piled near your front door? Did you trip or find it a pain to side step these items? This is one area, that according to fung shi, should be clear of clutter or large furniture pieces, and it seems logical when you think that the front door is an area we need to be clear to easily exit and enter, and to welcome guests. See how decluttering is at play here to some degree? Fengi shi is a great way to practice mindfulness and organization in our homes.
Being mindful in our homes isn’t something either minimalism or Feng shi can prop up without effort and intentionality on your part. You have to commit to the idea of being more intentional in what you keep, what you buy and how you manage and store your belongings. Therefore, it’s really you to you to be mindful no matter what kind of lifestyle practice you embrace. I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to be embrace minimalism and mindfulness!
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