Minimalism and maintaining good mental health

Last month i wrote a blog post about how i had been struggling with my mental health and how i had cleared out my wardrobe to fix it. (Read: I was having a bad mental health day so i cleared out my wardrobe) I got so many comments about how relatable the post was that i felt like to close out mental health awareness week i should talk about how minimalism has been a catalyst for maintaining my positive mental state.

Whilst my parents are definitely not minimalists, they have never been the type of people who needed a house full of things. They instead invested in business, property and their children’s educations. When they did buy something, it was the minimum needed and only something that could be repeatedly used and worth the purchase. My mum always uses this saying a lot, about being asset rich and cash poor; it is a quote she constantly strives to achieve and something that I have really taken away from my upbringing and stays with me every time I make a purchase or think about my future.

“Asset rich and cash poor”

My parents also worked incredibly to provide us with amazing memories and experiences. We have had some amazing trips and I have amazing memories of time spent together as a family. Those things mean more to me then stuff. 

You can always tell how well I am coping with my mental wellbeing by how clean my personal space is. Whether you can see my floor or not is a good indicator of mental state. This wasn’t always an obvious relationship, it has only become more obvious since I moved away from home to go to university. When I recognised it as a physical manifestation of my mental state I began to look into ways of keeping it as far into the positive side of the scale as possible. 

This was how I began exploring minimalism. Minimalism reduced the amount of things I owned. Which means there is less stuff to make a mess with! But it also allows me to be more organised which makes it easier to stay clean even if I am starting to feel grey. Minimalism has also stopped me buying more, which has helped with my financial worries. 

I don’t aspire for wealth, but I do aspire financial security. To be able to go out and make memories and not worry about paying my bills every month. It’s one of the reasons I would never be exclusively self employed because the lack of a rigid pay structure scares me. Minimalism has reduced my spending and helped me feel less concerned about money in my bank account. Moving out meaning I went on a bit of a spending spree, and I accumulated a lot of stuff I didn’t need or, looking back on it, truly want. Once i went on my minimalism clean out spree it was obvious that this was true by how little of these things i kept. This mass purchasing spree was pressured; I was surrounded by people who viewed success and happiness by belongings and how much people had. It is quite a negative vibe and eventually it did lead to not feeling great. 

Rik Pieters from the Tilburg university has established a link between materialism and increasing loneliness over time. There is also a link to depression. For some reason we as a society view success by how much stuff people have around them. It can lead to a depressive state when you don’t have a lot of things and you are pressured by this desire to have more. It creates such a toxic environment to surround yourself with and there are much better ideals to hold yourself too. 

Better to donate than accumulate

Whilst I am not sure where I first read this, its something that I try to think about when viewing my belongings. do I need this? due I use it? what is its value? If the answers are no why am I holding on to it. It could go towards people who need it and will see value in it. Donated to charities that can use it to fund outreach or given to people who could use it more than I ever would. 

The accumulation of belongings itself is also a bad habit. Something that minimalism can break. Minimalism as a concept itself can also rid yourself of a number of bad habits and offer you more time and mental bandwidth to achieve more, focus and gain better habits. Having less clutter on my desk improves my productivity, not a lot of crockery stops the washing piling up in the sink and keeps the kitchen clean. And the list goes on, and I am happier more. Less concerned about how I am viewed by other people, less worried about peoples judgement of my sucess. Because I only care about whether there is value in my life and how I can achieve more. Now I just have to go longer between cleaning cycles!

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