Life style

Simple living for anxiety and chronic pain

Simple living isn't necessarily a new concept, but it's something that I started to practice in order to help myself feel better mentally and physically. So it is new to me. There can be different definitions of simple living but I chose my unique combination of practices that I am going to share today. 

Mindful consumption

I am not a minimalist. At least, I don't like to call myself one, because owning less is not my ultimate goal. Instead, I try to focus on mindful consumption of products. I don't buy things just when I have an urge to buy them, but when I think that I really need something. If I simply want something (but don't need it), I write it down in my planner and give myself some time. If I don't change my mind within a month or so, I eventually buy it. However, I often do change my mind.

Strict rules give me anxiety, so even though I am working on my scarcity mindset, I try not to impose any tough restrictions on myself. Instead, I gently and mindfully work with my natural desires. Instead of using shopping as a coping strategy, I can focus on healthy ways to deal with my anxiety.

Gratitude

It's a very healthy practice to remind myself of what I already have and to be grateful for it on a regular basis. It's an important aspect of mindful consumption because many times we want to buy something that we already have. 

Minimizing external stimuli

I am very sensitive to sounds, light and smells. When my nervous system is overly stimulated, my anxiety and chronic pain become worse. It's hard to avoid external stimuli all together, but it's something I am constantly working on. I am not trying to put myself in a bubble, but if I want to feel better on a regular basis, I should learn to cooperate with my brain. My sensitivity isn't something I can control or change, but I can learn more about how to create the environment I am able to thrive in. That means avoiding crowded places, multitasking and bright light in the evenings. 

I declutter my space regularly. I think that digital declutter is just as important.

Reconnecting with nature

This one is my favorite. I talk about it all the time. Spending time in nature always helps me slow down and feel calmer and more relaxed. When I am in nature, it feels like time stops, and I can forget about productivity and goals. There is only here and now. I try to do it as often as I possible.

Routines

It's not for everyone, as many people like adventures and surprises. I am a person who prefers routines over those things. I love being organized, but I also allow flexibility. Time management and structure are extremely important to me; however, they can also be damaging as trying to be rigid with my schedule I can forget to listen to my body and its needs, and before I know it, I get overwhelmed aka stressed and in more pain. So, I allow myself to make modifications to my plans as I go to make the best out of my time. 

Meditation and slowing down

Meditation and progressive muscle relaxation help me practice my ability to slow down and be more present in the moment. Productivity is important but it's just as important to be able to do nothing. Slowing down in hectic world is an art, it requires a conscious effort and flexibility of a mindset. 

Redefining success, staying away from comparison and envy

This one is a tricky one, because society conditions us to be competitive. Many people need that "drive" to keep them going, some find inspiration and motivation in comparing themselves to others. Success is money, status and the possessions they work hard for. These things are important, but I don't think they bring happiness. It's in our nature to want more and think that grass is greener on the other side, but I think it's important to find something that is more consistent in terms of providing happiness and peace. To everyone it's going to be different. But I find traditional definition of success distracts me from my true values. Having purpose in life is much more sustainable source of joy. 

Accepting myself

Trying to constantly be a "better me" is exhausting. I know it for a fact. I am still guilty of it though. However, I incorporate self-compassion, acceptance, and patience to my daily life. If I can't accept myself as I am today, then constant self-criticism and perfectionism will keep me down, and I will never feel content. Acceptance doesn't mean giving up, it means abandoning resistance. Resistance causes anxiety and stress and worsens pain as a result. It's hard to practice patience and acceptance, when things are not the way we want them to be but lowering expectations and realizing that everything in life has no meaning besides the one we assign to it, may help.

These are core aspects of my simple living journey. It's not an extensive list, and it doesn't mean it will never change, but these are the things I am focusing on now. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave a comment below and share what are you focusing on at the moment. I will see you next time, on Pillows&Trees.