Can Minimalism Help Anxiety? Believe it or not, I am not suggesting living a Minimalist Lifestyle is a cure for anxiety or any other mental health issue. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
I agree a mental health professional’s advice should be sought in conjunction with doing your own research. As a result, I believe living a Minimalist Lifestyle, decluttering, and editing your possessions can positively affect depression and anxiety.
Please allow me to demonstrate and explain.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to perceived stressful situations. For most of us anxiety results in a nervous, uneasy feeling and fear.
Anxiety can be a mild annoyance to most or escalate to debilitating to many. In my life anxiety used to reside somewhere in between non-existent to slightly annoying.
Take this Anxiety Self Assessment.
For some reason, visual clutter triggers me. Hidden clutter has less of a negative effect but clutter overall seems to build up over time to trigger my anxiety.
I could feel myself begin to feel increasingly irritated and annoyed as clutter builds up. I have learned a quick decluttering and editing sweep of my living space restored me back to my loving self. LOL
I learned to create a system of periodically decluttering and editing my living and workspace to lessen anxiety in my life.
Most people experience the symptoms of anxiety disorder in the same way but in varying degrees. As a result, some common symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
- nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
- feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- rapid heart rate
- rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
- increased or heavy sweating
- trembling or muscle twitching
- weakness and lethargy
- difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about
- digestive or gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- a strong desire to avoid the things that trigger your anxiety
- obsessions about certain ideas, a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- performing certain behaviors over and over again
- anxiety surrounding a particular life event or experience that has occurred in the past, especially indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Yes, anxiety disorder is a very common mental health issue growing in the world today and slowly becoming an epidemic. How many of these symptoms do you experience regularly?
Anxiety has never been what I would consider a problem in my life. I am aware enough to know that many people experience debilitating anxiety and may feel differently.
I must say if you are regularly experiencing any of the symptoms above, please talk to a mental health professional.
Unfortunately in today fast fast-paced world anxiety triggers are constantly occurring during the day. Can Minimalism help anxiety?
Can Minimalism Help Anxiety?
What is your definition of Minimalism? For me living a Minimalist Lifestyle means learning what your true wants and needs are and filling your life with them as much as possible.
When done properly there will be no room or time for unnecessary junk. Removing yourself from the Rat Race lifestyle of consumerism and attaining more just for the sake of it.
You understand what is necessary and what is not. What is want and what is need? Simply understand what causes stress and anxiety in your life and what does not.
The tricky part is to take that data and actually work to eliminate or lessen the parts of your life that cause stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.
Easy right? Apparently not as stress and anxiety are on the rise in the United States and many parts of the world.
I believe the good news is living a minimalist lifestyle provides a great foundation for eliminating stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.
How Minimalism Can Help Anxiety
I once read depression described as living in the past and anxiety described as living in the future. That is an oversimplification but I get it.
Here are a few ways I believe minimalism can help anxiety.
Increased You Clarity
The first step to begin living a minimalist lifestyle is to declutter, downsize, and edit your possessions in your life.
The simple act of taking inventory and actually placing your hands on all of your possessions to decide whether to keep, donate, or throw them away is eye-opening in itself.
Once you have freed up space in your life and made room for more of what is really important to you it forces you to develop more clarity.
More clarity of what you really value, the people, and the things you allow in your life.
Eliminates The Comparison Game
We are all familiar with the comparison game and have involuntarily played it at one time or another. Most Social Media often trigger the comparisons game as we scroll from page to page.
We all know Social Media is not real but struggle not to compare our lives to the made-up somewhat perfect lives we see on Social Media.
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle helps you cut through the crap as you realize owning a bunch of stuff is not the key to happiness.
Your way of thinking has left society’s conventions of consumerism and “More” is best by the waste side.
You realize the more junk a person has does not mean the more successful or happy they are. It can often mean the opposite.
You begin to view owning many possessions as a weight, a drag, something to maintain and manage. Not fun and enjoyable.
You stop comparing a person with a seemingly fun-filled life of travel, good eats, and many shiny new possessions to your seeming humdrum life.
You are content and happy for them living the life that makes them happy as you celebrate the life that makes you happy.
The urge to compare is eliminated as you have carefully chosen what enters your life, the value of it and it is enough.
No comparison is needed.
I feel funny admitting this but I have experienced what I believe to be bouts of depression and anxiety. I only noticed them because they can cause simple and mundane tasks to become overwhelming to complete.
Just the thought causes the feeling to begin creeping in. In my case, I was always able to power through. I read some people are not so lucky and the overwhelming thoughts become debilitating and even insurmountable.
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle naturally eliminates or reduces feelings of being overwhelmed, a major system of anxiety.
You have decluttered and edited the nonessentials in your life. Hopefully, this has created a lighter, and less stressful environment for yourself.
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle allows you to stack the deck in your favor. You consciously edit and declutter as many parts of your life as you least enjoy and replace them with parts you enjoy more.
Again a two-year-old will do that instinctively but most adults in the developed world have to consciously make that a priority.
When you fill your life with parts you love most you have almost no time to worry. For example, if you love to dance you don’t even have to be good at it to enjoy it. No worries. You just dance as if no one is watching.
Similarly, if you love going out to dinner, a movie or even a live show. You don’t even have to enjoy them. You can even take a chance and experiment.
What you really enjoy is the people who join you. The discussion before, after, and the experience. No pressure, stress, or worries.
Reduces Financial Stress
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle reduces financial stress forcing you to be more intentional in the way you spend and earn money.
You learn the power of saying NO and no longer impulse buy or even feel the need to purchase useless stuff. As a result, you almost eliminate the need to own the latest and greatest. You no longer have the need to own items to fit into this consumerist society.
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle in many cases will change the way you think about earning money. Being forced to work long hours or travel for work many days of the year limiting time with friends and family becomes unacceptable.
As a result of living a minimalist lifestyle and the reduction of financial stress many people realize they can change careers to something they actually enjoy. Lowering your financial burden can open many personal and professional opportunities as you require less income to meet your basic needs.
Eliminates Mental Overload
Mental overload can be a broad term with many meanings. I became acquainted with mental overload when I changed professions.
I went from being a Cable Field Technician to running up and down stairs, ladders, and telephone poles. It could be physical at times.
To a Network Technicians’ position traveling to locations sitting in front of my laptop configuring equipment for long periods of time.
Ironically I was more physically tired at the end of the day using my brain more as a Network Technician than I was doing the more physical job as a Cable Field Technician. I believe this was due to mental overload.
The same mental overload comes into play when owning and maintaining too much stuff. For example, my manager at the Cable Company had to maintain service, maintenance, and insurance records for all of the vehicles in the department among other things.
I would return to the office at the end of the day and he always looked like he was doing more physical work than me at the time. I would give him a hard time about it but now I understand.
Minimalist living reduces anxiety and mental overload by reducing the amount of useless stuff and complexity in life.
This allows more time and energy to enjoy more of what we truly love.
Reduces Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue is the prerequisite to mental overload. Believe it or not, we do not have unlimited decision-making ability in a 24-hour period.
Our mental ability and capacity to make quality decisions lessen with each decision made as the day goes on.
When you wake up in the morning your mental reserves are full and your decision-making capacity is sharp and more acute.
By the end of the day, your mental capacity to make quality decisions is more depleted and labored.
Deciding what to eat for dinner or even what shows you like to watch becomes more difficult at the end of the day due to decision Fatigue.
Minimalist living principles by definition combats decision fatigue and anxiety.
Less stuff in your life leads to fewer decisions to make during the day. Learn more about Decision Fatigue here.
As you can see from reading I believe minimalism can help anxiety. What do you think? Did I make any points you agreed or disagreed with? Did you find any value?