You may be a little surprised to see the subject of minimalism come up. It isn't one of the main aspects of holistic health, however, the mental benefits spill over which leads to better health overall.
Why is this? Think of meditation. When you are meditating, you are either trying to empty your mind or focus your mind on one thought at a time. This is what leads to a relaxed state, lowered blood pressure, and other health benefits.
So wouldn't you want your physical world to be relaxing like your mental world when you are meditating?
Everyone can agree that multitasking can be stressful. Balancing two or more activities at the same time can be draining. The mind can only handle so much stimulation. When the mind is overstimulated, it can shut down. So naturally, you can see where this would have the same affect on the body. Your body and your senses can only handle so much at once.
It is physically impossible to listen to two things at the same time, you can hear both things, but to mentally focus on two things at once cannot be done. Just try to watch a TV show while someone is talking to you, you have to choose which one to focus on for each moment. Likewise, your eyes can see peripherally many things but it cannot focus on more than one object at a time.
Clutter is toxic to the eyes, in a mental way. Would you rather walk into a storage room with all your junk shoved into every crevice with barely a path to walk around? Or would you rather walk into a room with one small chair and one small table with one candle on it with one book sitting on the table? The mind is drawn to simplicity and order, and is repelled by clutter and chaos.
Most definitions of the word "minimalism" use the word "simplicity". That is really the essence of it. Why would you want life to be anything other than simple?
Minimalism does not require you to live out of a backpack, nor does it require you to throw out your record collection or all your fine china.
Go back to the essence, simplicity. Give your mind less to focus on. Give your body more space to move around in. Give your eyes less clutter to sort through. Give your life a spring cleaning!
I'm going to give you a simple 3-step plan on how to become a minimalist.
1. Assess your life and narrow it down to what really matters. Sit down with each collection you own and ask yourself if you get real value out of owning it. Ask yourself if you would rather have the extra space and money you would get for selling it. Imagine your life without this stuff and try to feel if you would really miss it.
Try to narrow down your collections to just a few. You don't want to be one of those people who collects things just because you want to be able to say you own every single related item that has ever been made. Don't let your belongings own you! Keep the ones that embody your essence.
If you are a photographer, by all means, keep every lens you have ever bought! If you are a chef, don't feel guilty keeping all your kitchen toys! If a collection of items is actually useful, this counts as adding value to your life.
2. Start with a small space and work your way up. It's a huge motivation booster to see what one small space can do! Start with one corner of a room and slowly work your way to the whole room.
3. Organize what you have decided to keep. An organized area is much more pleasing to the eye than having things scattered around willy nilly. If you have to, buy or build shelving, or a closet.
Once you minimize your belongings, you might want to keep going! Here are some general suggestions of other ways to minimize your entire life.
When going through your clothing, it is more efficient to have fewer items of clothing but to have items that you can mix and match with each other. This is called a capsule wardrobe.
For example, have one or two of each item (such as a skirt, jacket, long sleeve button down, etc.) and having them color coordinated so they can go with anything. That way you can build many variations of outfits with less actual items.
Many people tend to have double of things, especially when it comes to kitchen gadgets. You really only need one of anything. Choose whichever one is more versatile, or whichever one is more regularly used. But you certainly don't need five frying pans of the same size, or three different sets of measuring cups. Aim for quality here, and you won't need the quantity.
When it comes to the items in your bathroom, it becomes easier to clear more space if you start making your own beauty and hygiene products. You can get by with just 5-10 items rather than 30. With just some Dr. Bronner's soap, baking soda, and a few different oils, you can make almost everything you need. See my environment page for recipes and more information about natural cleaning products and natural hygiene products here; Environment
Consider digitizing your music, movie, and book collections. This one is a bit hard for a lot of people, because it is nice to have a physical book in your hands, or to sit back and visually see all your CD's or DVD's organized alphabetically. But if your extra space is important enough to you, and you don't mind switching to a Kindle, mp3 player or streaming device, it will feel like a weight lifted off your shoulders.
Look more into reusing, recycling and re-purposing. It's better for the environment, and gives you a sense of being resourceful. There's already enough garbage and junk in the world, lets make it a better place by reducing our need for new things.
Of course things like your vehicle and major appliances shouldn't be from the 1980's, but don't go overboard and feel like you must have the newest biggest size refrigerator that makes it's own ice cubes. Sure it's nice to live in luxury, but it's not cool to be materialistic either.
Tiny houses are a big hit with the minimalists. You can also live in an RV if travelling is your thing. With either of these options, you can still store some of your belongings at a relatives house or in a storage facility.
These options are growing in popularity and not just with retirees! With more and more virtual jobs, growing numbers of younger people are opting to live simply in a tiny home or RV so they can move wherever they want.
With lower living costs, this appeals to many minimalists, who can then focus more on the things they enjoy. Why pay for a huge house if you don't need all the space? Why spend all that extra time cleaning when you could spend it relaxing?
Living in a smaller space is a good way to consume less. If you don't have the room for a bunch of crap you don't need, you aren't contributing to consumerism. Is your life really better after you buy your 13th lamp? Wouldn't you rather take a vacation instead of having a room full of gym equipment that you only use sporadically?
And you can't take it with you when you die, so why leave a load of junk for your children to deal with? When you have less things, you can have more experiences. Less stuff=more life.
Minimalism is one of the best things for the environment because are you simply contributing less to the landfill and garbage problems in the world.
Living sustainably is one of the end goals of many minimalists. It is also the lifestyle of many people who are into holistic health and environmentalists. Being totally sustainable is quite the process though, so if you aren't able to live off the grid right now, there are many other things you can do in the meantime.
Building a homestead might not be an option for everyone. But it's worth looking into if your goal is to own a house.
Living off your land not only gives you control and freedom over your life, but it also puts you in the best position in the event of power outages on the main grid, or if the economy collapses and the world descends into chaos.
You can use solar panels, wind turbines or generators to provide your house with power. These are costly to set up, but are cheaper in the long run, not to mention you won't have to worry about major grid shutdowns that will affect everyone except for you. And doesn't it sound great to imagine being immune to food shortages? You can just step outside and pick your dinner from the garden.
Alternative transportation is another excellent way to help the environment and live minimally. You could get rid of your vehicle altogether, if you are able to use public transportation, or walk or ride a bike regularly. Carpooling whenever possible is another option. If you must have a vehicle, you can trade down to something more fuel efficient. Smaller vehicles use less gas and are also quieter.
If you have less stuff, you are probably using less electricity. Gadgets and appliances are an energy suck, so the less you have of them, the better. Or at the very least, don't have them all running at the same time.
This is another pleasant side effect of living in rhythm with the sun, when you are awake for more of the daytime, you won't need to use your lights as much.
If you are following along in order, you should have already covered every page under the Body section and now the Mind section as well. It is time to move on to the Soul! Click here to proceed to spiritual health.