I've been interested in the minimalist movement over the last year. It stared with a book recommendation: "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondo. I read this book, took some ideas on board, and went on to read "Simplify" by Joshua Becker.
The last year has seen a gradual change in the way I view life as a result of the concept of minimialsim. I shop less, donate or give away unwanted goods more, and I purchase much more intentionally. I think it is a great way to improve life satisfaction in our modern, hectic world. I've found that by getting rid of the things that are not important to me, those things that are can become a bigger part of my life.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is largely defined by what you get rid of from your life. Unwanted, unused, dust-collecting stuff. The outcome, however, is much more about what you gain. Think: clarity, perspective and time. We all have a limited time in our lives, and the more time pursuing the things that give us happiness the better. Less time cleaning and re-organising. More time pursuing your life goals and making real connections with people.
How can minimalism affect health?
So far, the concept of minimalism might seem more related to your crammed-full cupboards and your collection of unused wedding presents. But, this very same concept can have a great influence on health.
- Eat a minimalist diet of real food. Avoid chemical additives as much as possible, and keep your food as unprocessed as possible. Cook simple and healthy meals.
- Declutter your pantry. The healthiest food are fresh. Have a clean out and clear out expired, old or unwanted food. Think about the foods you would like to have in your pantry, and how to arrange them to make it practical and enjoyable.
- Keep a minimalist pantry. Keep ingredients that you use weekly, like spices, vinegars, natural sweeteners, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruit, oils and wholegrains. Use glass jars that seal well for storage, and keep plastic packaging to a minimum. When you are shopping buy what you need and know you will use.
- Shop for small amounts of food often. This maximises the nutrient content of your fresh produce and reduces the financial and environmental costs associated with wasted food.
- Clean out your fridge often. Keep only the freshest food in your fridge. Discard any old, unused condiments.
- Streamline your supplements. Think about what you really need to take and what you can source from food instead. Make sure your supplements contains only natural ingredients, and that they reflect your current health priorities.
- Keep your exercise routine simple. You can do this by exercising in the outdoors with minimal equipment.
- Drink filtered water. Reduce the effect of chemicals on your health by filtering your drinking water and making it your drink of choice. This also keeps cost and packaging to a minimum.
- Reduce negative dietary influences. These include caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Find the lowest possible intake that you feel comfortable with.
- Keep chemicals in your environment to a minimum. Simple homemade cleaners can be a great way to keep you body and home happy.
- Prioritise sleep. Good sleep is the ultimate health-promoting habit. Reflect on the sleep times that make you feel your best and aim to implement these as often as possible.
- Keep stress levels low. This is best achieved by prioritising your life to find the right balance for you. Aim for your weekly activities to reflect your interests and to be enjoyable, this should include work if possible.
- Remember the purpose of health. Health is a vehicle that allows you to participate fully in life. Prioritising health will ensure you can spend more time doing the things that you find meaningful.
I am still in the process of applying minimalism to my life, but have already seen many positive effects on my health and home. I will happily be continuing my journey of streamlining my life to those things that matter the most to me.