Nov 22nd, 2019, 01:13 PM

Live Your Best with Less: How Does Minimalism Impact Your Mental Health

By Prizma Ghimire
Image Credit: Elle Hughes
Do you need what you think you really need? Is it keeping you happy?

We live in a world of massive consumerism, and we are constantly bombarded by products both offline and online. So much so that it is hard to get by without ignoring them. The overhyped advertisements, gigantic sales, and discount offers make us believe that we want those possessions in our life. However, if we pay close attention, we realize that we might be buying into stuff that we don’t really need.

Minimalism as a lifestyle fits right in the matrix, enabling people to make choices and get over materialism. According to Leo Babauta, author of the blog Zen habits, “minimalism isn’t just about living with little; it is about discovering what’s important.” Moreover, it has some quintessential benefits on your mental health. Unlike other trends, that get you to buy more and more, minimalism emphasizes the fact that “owning less” can be as fulfilling and keep you happy.

Nicodemus and Millburn, filmmakers of a popular documentary The Minimalists, and leading advocates of living a minimalist lifestyle, promote the idea of living life with “less.” In their TED Talk, Millburn shares that “owning less means less clutter, less stress, and less debt. A life with fewer distraction and more happiness.” Similarly, a research study done by neuroscientists at Princeton University revealed that people’s ability to concentrate and multitask decreased as the physical clutter in their surroundings increased, resulting in reduced performance and stress.

Image Credit: Pixabay

In another research study, published by the Current Opinion Psychology Journal, Dr. Mario Pandelaere of Ghent University looked at the relationship between materialism and depression. He found that people with more inclination towards “materialism” had depressive tendencies.

Furthermore, in an article published by Psychology Today, author Robert T Muller, Ph.D. states that “having fewer items in your space reduce stress or anxiety. Owning less means there is less you need to worry about and less likely to struggle with decision fatigue.”

Indeed, research studies indicate that decluttering creates peace of mind, simplifies the living, and enables the ability to multitask. In this regard, one can utilize extra time and energy on self-care, exercise, meditation, and focus on relationships, which are essential for personal wellbeing.

Image Credit: Samuel Silitonga

Similarly, embarking on a journey of minimalism helps you have a clear distinction between wanting less versus needing less. This is an important aspect of an individual’s decision-making process and a way forward to restructuring their lives. The process gives you a certain sense of value, freedom, and self-control on overindulgence.

In The Minimalists, Nicodemus and Millburn contend that “No matter how much stuff we buy, it’s never enough.” The duo maintains that letting go allows people to give up superfluous possessions to make room for life’s most important things and will enable them to lead a satisfying life. This ideology resonates with Marie Kondo, author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. She is also the host of a Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and promotes the KonMari method of organization, reminding people to adhere to the possessions that spark “joy” or hold a strong memory, otherwise to let go.

Another intriguing aspect of minimalism is that it makes you self-aware and confident from within. An article from The Atlantic mentions that people buy things because of the societal expectations around them. Another research study observes that we engage in consumerism because of the societal expectations that tell us to acquire possessions or physical objects as it relates to the power dynamics by showcasing class or strata in the society. Moreover, advertising and social media have infiltrated our lifestyle and consumption habits.

Image Credit: Daria Shevtsova

However, as we begin to declutter, we start to confront ourselves in the process. When we minimize our lifestyle and let go of our possessions, we are letting go of the “socially constructed” or “ideal” version of ourselves, which brings us closer to an “authentic” self, allowing us to glance at our inner self. It enables us to celebrate who we are and break free from unnecessary holdings and garbage. Admittedly, the process can be challenging, but breaking free from the societal pressure of acquiring makes us stronger.

Finally, decluttering liberates you from the concept of a pacifier; it eliminates distractions, opens up your schedule, and reduces your spending, all of which yield positive results. It simplifies the hustle-bustle of everyday life, generates financial freedom, and a stronger sense of security as it allows individuals to focus on what is important.

Interestingly, millennials are inclining more and more towards living a minimalistic lifestyle; they are moving into tinier homes, cutting their wardrobes in half, and donating their possessions. Of course, the idea of making the sweeping decision to change one's lifestyle may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We can start small by being mindful of new purchases and owning up to the reality that nobody is happy by consuming more.

To learn more about minimalism, visit: A Beginner’s Guide to the Minimalist Movement, Minimalism-Documentary, The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, Tiny House Movement, KonMari