Written by Dylan Gerstley

How minimalism improves mental, financial health

Minimalism is a popularly embraced mindset that bucks the status quo of material consumption to instead put the focus of your life on you and your dreams, as opposed to your material desires. Without constantly searching for the next score on Amazon, you clear your mind to focus on what is most significant in your mind and heart, rather than your next impulse.

If you’re feeling stressed and unfulfilled by your routine, consider adopting some of the tenets of a minimalist approach. While there are countless examples of minimalist influencers diving headfirst into extreme lifestyle shifts, like living in a portable tiny house, it’s best for the uninitiated to start with one area of their home, or a single, consistent purchase type, like clothing, to see how minimalism works for them.

As always, moderation is key. Adopting minimalism does not have to mean saying goodbye to your favorite hobbies or possessions. It’s about clearing your headspace to determine what is most valuable and important to you.

Decluttering for productivity

It’s no secret that having a clean workspace helps maintain mental clarity, improve productivity, and reduce distractions. Even the act of cleaning itself can help contribute to feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your next challenge.

But what if the constant cluttering and decluttering your desk was put to bed? If you make a concerted effort to be organized and eliminate unnecessary papers, desk décor, notes, and technology, you not only gain the mental clarity and benefits described above, you maintain those positives throughout your work routine: say goodbye to feeling distracted and overwhelmed!

Start small by looking at your workspace or a commonly shared space in your home. Don’t feel trapped by how you’ve worked or used the space in the past. Take the time to reimagine each small space and how it can best help you achieve what you truly desire from it. Change can be uncomfortable, but when it’s designed around developing the best and most fulfilled version of yourself, change is empowering and only pushes you to greater heights.

It’s all about the green

One of the main reasons people adopt a minimalist approach to life is the environmental benefit it offers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the less possessions accumulated, the less waste created for local landfills, and the less of an impact left on the environment. But there’s more green benefit than meets the eye: reigning in material consumption means holding onto your hard-earned cash and enjoying a greater degree of financial freedom.

For fashionistas, this point is particularly powerful, as the fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters. Your closet is ground zero for a minimalist approach. A shift in your perspective on clothing can save you money and be good for the planet.

Start by taking inventory of your current wardrobe. If you’re like me, you’re bound to find clothing you forgot you even owned. Any forgotten items that have been tucked in the unreachable depths of your closet are perfect to donate to non-profit clothing distributors or similar organizations. This way, you can clear your space, prevent the clothing from ending up in the trash, and instead pass it on to someone less fortunate.

For clothing on hangers, there is a simple way to determine if you wear them or not. Flip all the clothes in your closet one direction, and each time you wear a piece, rehang it in the opposite direction. Over a period of six months or so, it should become clear what your favorite and least favorite pieces are.

If you’re more entrepreneurial minded, or if you have a few high-quality items, you can try your hand reselling these items on marketplaces like eBay or Mercari. The secondhand clothing market can be hit or miss, so remember that the main goal here is closet decluttering, and not financial gain. Accept the fact you don’t wear the clothing you’re selling and pass it on for a reasonable price.  

Spend your time wisely

Minimalism can do more than help clean your home and keep a few extra bucks in your pocket. If you truly embrace a minimalistic approach, you will begin to assess everything for its own value, and not the value society or others place on it. Consider your social commitments and who you spend the most time with. Is it truly how you want to spend your time? Or are you stretching yourself thin to honor every plan?

Not all relationships are equal. Some require ample time and care, while others can be erratic and inconsistent. Assess your relationships and pay attention to how you feel during and after each interaction. If something churns up negative feelings, consider what it truly means to you. Repurposing that time for yourself to have a clearer and more motivated outlook will be much more beneficial than appeasing social conventions for cursory connections.

Embrace what works best for you

Minimalism is a lifestyle approach that can color everything you do, but it doesn’t have to. Simply learning about the practice and its benefits will present a shift in your perspective. The minimalist mentality helps assess the value of your possessions, your interactions, and how you spend your time. All of those things, especially in conjunction with one another, lead to a happier and healthier you.

Take the time today to consider what means the most to you and how the space, items, and people around you contribute to that. You might find it’s time for a minimalist approach to fully focus on you. Or maybe you just want to clean — and maintain — your desk space. In each application, minimalism has something of value.

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