Minimalism encourages us to place less emphasis on material possessions and invest more into things like contentment, relationships and overall well-being. Not only has this been proven to do wonders for mental health, but it also helps mollify what may be going on inside. A messy space is more than just an eyesore. With clutter affecting both your brain and nervous system alike, it may be time for a change. We know this may seem like a challenge, but small steps go a long way. Here are 5 easy ways to start living more simply today.
Cut back on TV
Studies have shown prolonged periods of television to cause anatomical restructuring in the brains of children. And while your brain isn’t as actively developing in adulthood, it’s important to note the effects the tube may have on your mainframe. Since reading has been proven to improve brain connectivity and function overall, try picking up a book the next time you’re looking for a little diversion.
If the saying rings true, where there is mess there is stress. The extra stuff takes up more than just space. Studies have shown a spike in cortisol levels, the stress hormone, as a result of clutter. Elevated levels of cortisol have also been shown to hinder learning and memory, diminish immune function and increase weight gain. Clutter disrupts order, challenging your mental health and producing less efficient thinking. Decluttering, also known as the art of tidying up, can be a huge help to this. Not only does a clear space allow you to move freely through your home and get things done more efficiently, but it reduces feelings of stress. A sweep of the whole house looking like more than you can handle? Avoid burnout; set aside 2-3 hours a day to give each room particular attention.
Put simply, the most complicated parts of our lives can be our diets. Historically, western diets high in chemically processed foods have not fared in our favour. Full of whatever-is-available-at-the-time style food, we often resign ourselves to quick, processed menu items that don’t always have the best impact on our bodies. Not only are these foods high in glucose, but they’re full of filler, less than filling and often intended for over-consumption. To skip the squabble, opt for whole foods that provide you with nutritional benefits without the added junk.
Turn off your notifications
Breaking news: that addiction to your timeline isn’t just in your head. Studies have shown an increased release of dopamine, the head of your brain’s pleasure cent, when receiving phone alerts. Recent research suggests dopamine increases “seeking” behavior, increasing your desire to want, desire, seek out and search. Even more brain activity is seen whilst in anticipation of reward. This hangs particularly true in the middle of a text war where dopamine is impassioned by unpredictability. This is exemplified when you receive an unexpected message from someone you didn’t anticipate hearing from. Dopamine levels rise, giving you a false sense of seek and desire. A good way to combat this false sense of high and low is by turning off your alerts. Try living in the present and appreciating the things around you, rather than anticipating those floating in the cyber world.
Schedule time for yourself
Cutting focus from material things means having the ability to repurpose it for nurturing relationships with others, but most importantly, with yourself. Though the idea of scheduling time for self may seem unusual, we spend so much time filling the cups of others that we can sometimes forget we ourselves may need a bit of a refill. Practicing self-care doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. It can be as simple as cancelling one appointment a week to spend time admiring the outdoors, or heading to the library to find a new read. Whatever it is that brings you back to you, do that.
- S. K., Ph.D. (2017, May 13). 5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter out of Your Life. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201705/5-reasons-clear-the-clutter-out-your-life
- Fields, R. D. (2016, January 01). Does TV Rot Your Brain? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-tv-rot-your-brain/
- Wahlstrom, D., Collins, P., White, T., & Luciana, M. (2010, February). Developmental Changes in Dopamine Neurotransmission in Adolescence: Behavioral Implications and Issues in Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815132/
- Gunnars, B. K. (2017, August 01). Processed foods: Health risks and dangers. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318630.php
- P. B., ND, LAc. (2011, October 6). Your Unhappy Brain on Television. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/inner-source/201110/your-unhappy-brain-television