As we settle further into what has been dubbed “the new normal”, with finances tight or uncertain for many, the wisdom of simple living is once again rising to the top of our collective awareness.
Regardless of the state of the world, we already know that embracing a simpler life can contribute positively to one’s sense of well-being. In fact, a recent study found that living a simple, minimalist lifestyle is often correlates with a sense of autonomy, competence, mental space, awareness, and positive emotions. And the good news is, you can start right where you are. There are no prerequisites and the definition of success is relative.
If you find yourself seeking a greater sense of clarity and ease during this uncertain time, here are 4 areas where you might look to simplify:
Tip 1: Buy less. Period.
Bottom line, we need far fewer material items than we think. If your finances have taken a hit due to the pandemic, take a look at your household’s purchasing habits and see where you can pare down. Do an audit of the basics like groceries, household items, clothing, etc. Consider incorporating a few “buy nothing” days into each month.
If you have the impulse to buy something new, ask yourself why. Is it a “need” or a “want”. If it’s a “want”, here’s a re-direct to try: go shopping in your closet or cabinets. Chances are there are items buried in there that you can bring out and rediscover anew to satisfy what is often a momentary urge to consume. Which leads into our next point…
Tip 2: Re-use What You Can
Live more sustainably by identifying day-to-day household items you can re-purpose. For example, use plastic yogurt/food containers as plant pots for your porch or windowsill garden, or instead of buying rolls of dog waste bags, keep a small stash of plastic bags from bread and other products to take with you on your walks.
Had a larger household project on tap for this year like a remodel or redesign? Find something old you can make new again. Have extra time on your hands and want to spruce up your living space? Instead of buying new furniture, what better time for a re-furbishing project?
Tip 3: Simplify in the Kitchen
Choose simple, inexpensive ingredients and embrace the practice of batch cooking to save time. Limit food waste by making a list before you shop and buying only groceries you’ll actually use. Since shopping for fresh produce can be challenging when you’re making fewer trips to the store or market, look for items to can or freeze at home, or buy frozen or canned foods to supplement the fresh.
Tip 4: Adjust your Big-Picture Goals
Look back to the first of the year. Did you make some lofty New Year’s resolutions or dream bigger than usual on your vision board? You don’t have to scrap it all right away, but do a thorough review. Identify what aspirations could change shape given the new circumstances, what needs to move to a later time, and be honest with yourself about what might be best to let go of.
Most importantly, give yourself time and space to move toward acceptance. It can feel like a lot all at once. But, If there’s one thing the pandemic can teach us, it’s how to adapt to sudden change — both in the workplace and in our personal lives. This type of resilience can be a helpful agent when it comes to maintaining a sense of well-being through this time.
At the end of the day, simpler living can enhance our collective sustainability and improve personal efficiency which results in the freeing up of two incredible commodities: time and space. This new-found time can be re-purposed toward doing the activities that light us up the most, supporting the causes we find most worthy, and perhaps best of all, having quality experiences with the people we love. What do you want to make room for?
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