Simple living probably has a different meaning for everyone. But I can most definitely attest that ever since I was able to "simplify" my life it transformed my mental health. I have learned that anxiety does not always come from our way of thinking and we can make certain changes in our outside world to help to calm it down. Now I don't think there is one magical solution to chronic anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder or GAD) but everything I talk about on this blog is equally important. Simplifying my life was a missing block in my recovery for a long time. Today I am going to share with you what aspects of simple living help my anxiety.
Having a routine as a simple living practice is important for calming anxiety
Everyone is talking about it and you are probably tired of hearing it, but routines are extremely important not only for our mental health but for our well-being in general. However, one thing that is worth mentioning is that sticking to a routine can be at times challenging and may actually cause unnecessary stress. We should remember that routines serve us, not we serve our routines. So staying flexible is key. When you can't make time for night meditation, it's totally OK.
With this being said, when I don't have a structure to my day my life seems more chaotic which translates into my inner state. I start feeling restless, more anxious and eventually burned out. I think everyone needs some level of certainty and simplicity in their lives but it's a must for people with anxiety!
Keep your routines simple, so they don't overwhelm you.
This one is probably the hardest to implement. We often hear sayings like "live your best life", "become the best version of yourself", "live today as if it's your last", etc. And while they can be inspiring and motivating for some, for me they involve the aspect of setting super high expectations for myself. Most of my days are simple and may not look like "the best". That is probably a good thing because then I am more excited about my "best" days.
We often believe false narratives about how our lives should be. It has to do with how we grew up, what people we surrounded ourselves with, and what information we regularly consume. If we compare ourselves to others, our life goals constantly change and depend on what we see around us as oppose to reflect our values. But when our minds are so fickle, it's much harder to stay content.
Lowering expectations means accepting life as it is: the bad, the good, and the ugly. As well as setting goals based on our capabilities, life circumstances, and limitations. I know it's not a popular opinion, but it will help you feel freer in many ways.
Setting healthy boundaries
I have always been a people pleaser and it comes with sacrifices. I used to sacrifice my time, my peace, and my health for other people, and it was hard on my mental health. In my opinion, people still don't get the importance of taking care of themselves first. What's considered selfish in our society is often a necessity, and conversations about selfishness vs. self-love should really be prioritized.
It's crucial to learn how to say no without feeling guilty. I want you to remember one thing: that feeling of guilt that you have each time you prioritize yourself is normal as most of us grew up hearing that being selfish is bad. So somewhere in our subconscious mind we probably still believe it's true. But self-sacrifice won't get you far in life. In fact, it can often lead to dissatisfaction and bitterness that will do relationships more harm than good.
Write down your boundaries and stick to your values. Sometimes it will require rewriting your story and creating new values. Don't hesitate to do it, if your old values and beliefs no longer serve you and your health. Setting healthy boundaries is truly one of the most important aspects of simple living that can help your anxiety.
Minimalism as a part of simple living that helps anxiety
I don't strive to be a "perfect" minimalist but I try to make my purchases more intentional. If we think about it we really don't need many things in our lives to be happy. There are areas in my life where I own more stuff and ones where I have a bare minimum. This balance helps me feel calmer.
When you declutter your space you declutter your mind. Our brain loves structure, and a well-organized clean house is a good environment for it to thrive.
When it comes down to minimalism, I am also talking about digital minimalism and other aspects of life that we can declutter and simplify.
So here are just a few ways how simplifying my life has helped my anxiety. There is no one way how it can be done. And I don't think there is a right or wrong way to heal. So share your experience below, I will be happy to learn from you. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.