In our culture of bigger is better there’s something refreshing about the less is more approach of minimalism. The world would have you believe that the more things you have, the greater your happiness will be but that’s not the case. Read on to discover why you might want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and the health benefits that come from having less.
What is minimalism?
According to Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” (1)
Minimalism looks a little different between the people who practice it. Some people sell all their worldly possessions and travel the world. Other people declutter their homes and remove toxic relationships that aren’t helping them.
No matter how you see minimalism fitting your life, at its heart, minimalism is just the removal of what you don’t need in order to make room for what you do.
Health benefits of having less
This concept may seem a little far out there; however, there is scientific evidence that minimalism is good for your health. The best part is, you don’t have to go to extremes to see the health benefits of having less. (2)
Decreases stimuli and increases peace
Take a look around the room you’re in. How many objects can your eye see from where you’re sitting? How many words can you read and how many colors do you see? When you stop and look, the amount of sensory information being thrown at you might surprise you. You may not be consciously aware of all the stimuli battling for your attention, but your brain is. Behind the scenes it catalogues and sorts out all of the various stimuli.
Needless to say, this might be causing you to feel overwhelmed without even knowing the reason. When you practice a minimalist lifestyle, it allows you to cut down on the clutter. This reduces the number of stimuli battling for your constant attention. When your space is less cluttered your brain can relax. It doesn’t have to rapidly sort through all of the information your eyes, ears and nose are sending it. This can lead to lower levels of anxiety and a greater sense of peace. (3)
More space and time for the things you truly value
Minimalism can involve decluttering physical parts of your life, like donating that book you’ll never read again or throwing out old paystubs that you no longer need. This physical removal of “stuff” from your life can really give you more space. There is probably a lot of objects in your home right now that you’re holding onto “just in case” you need them. If you were to remove them, you might be surprised at how much room you clear up.
This could give you the space you need to focus on the activities you really want to do. Maybe you want to start running on a treadmill but you didn’t have room for one. Or maybe you love playing the guitar, but you didn’t have space to keep it visible so you never practice. By cleaning up what you don’t need you make room for what you do.
This isn’t just a physical thing. You can also make more mental and emotional room for the people and things that you value. Removing old relationships that are toxic or no longer serving you in your life makes room for the people who care about you and support you. Minimalism can even spread into your workplace. If you find yourself dreading going to work every day maybe it’s time to “declutter” that old job by letting it go and leaving space for you to find a job that gives you a sense of fulfillment and happiness every day. (4)
Less Stress, anxiety and depression
There have been several studies done on the relationship between materialism (placing value on having more stuff) and negative experiences such as loneliness, depression and lower levels of life-satisfaction. These studies showed that having a materialistic attitude made people, on the whole, much unhappier. (5) (6)
The opposite is true of people who follow a minimalistic lifestyle. These people tend to be more satisfied with their lives. They experience a greater sense of fulfilment, happiness and tend to be less lonely than materialists. (7) (8) (9)
This is because, by removing the mental and physical clutter, minimalists make room for what’s important. This can be with employment, relationships or belongings. The key that connects them is that the things in a minimalist’s life hold value for them.
Easier to keep clean and sanitary
Minimalism is great for you mind; however, it’s also great for your physical health. With the battle the world’s been facing against Covid-19 you’re probably hyper aware of germs and bacteria. It can be difficult to keep surfaces clean when they’re clutter with things. Every object on your counters, shelves and tables is one that can hold onto bacteria and germs. That may sound gross but an easy way to keep your home more sanitary is to clean up the clutter.
Take you kitchen table for example. A lot of us use this dining space as a “drop zone” for the things that don’t really have a home. Mail, keys, assorted knick knacks, food, dishes, our kid’s toys can all find their way here. Imagine how much easier it would be to wipe your kitchen table clean if it wasn’t covered in all of this “stuff”. A quick wipe with a cloth and some cleaning spray and you could rest easy knowing the table you eat meals at is now germ free.
You don’t have to go to extremes to see the health benefits of having less. All you need to do is take a look around and your relationships, interests and belongings to see what’s still serving you and what could be removed to make room for something better. De-cluttering in this way can lead to a happier and healthier life.
Kaitlyn Bain is a professional health and wellness writer with a passion for helping her clients educate their readers on healthy lifestyles.