Can minimalism help to manage anxiety?

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately on the topic of minimalism. The definition of minimalism may vary from person-to-person. From my understanding, minimalism is focusing on what is most important and useful to you and getting rid of the excess. This can be applied to the amount of stuff you have, the number of commitments you make, what you allow to occupy your time, etc. Today, I’m going to talk about how minimalism could potentially benefit those prone to anxiety and those who easily become overwhelmed. The following is based solely on my experiences with both anxiety and minimalism.

Decide what is important in life

Applying minimalism to your life can vary based on your personality. There are extremes that can be found on television; for example, those people with the tiny houses or those who live out of a single backpack. That’s not the kind of minimalism I’m going to be talking about here. I believe most life changes are best done in moderation. Think of minimalism as a change in your mindset. Focus on what matters the most to you and what adds value to your life. As for me, I start to become anxious when my time is consumed by things that are not important. I daily strive to practice gratitude and contentment for what I have and try to discern my needs vs. wants. My current focuses are family, self-care, and professional development.

Ask yourself: What is most important to me today, this month, this year?

Decide what is NOT important in life

I’ve found the process of eliminating the non-essentials to be a therapeutic aspect of minimalism. When there are too many things to deal with, my anxiety increases and I will frequently become overwhelmed. We all know that life gets hectic and there are many things that we will always have to deal with (ex. bills, work, emergencies, food, shelter, etc.); however, we have the ability to cut out things that are nonessential. This frees up more time and energy to focus on what you identified in the last section. Below I will talk about some areas to consider when evaluating non-essentials in your life.

Avoiding consumerism

Though I’ve always tended to be more minimal with regards to possessions, there’s always room for improvement. Avoiding consumerism is particularly difficult in American society because we are constantly advertised to. I’ve learned that stress will increase when you try to keep up with the latest-and-greatest or when you start comparing yourself to others.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~Unknown

Conclusion

While this post was not meant to be a how-to guide about minimalism or to provide proof that practicing minimalism fixes anxiety (it doesn’t), I hope that you’ve found something useful to take away from it.

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