A Noticeable Calm
How anxiety led to minimalism
Minimalism snuck up on me and presented itself as a solution to an issue that has plagued me for years: anxiety.
Anxiety had become a major catalyst for agitation and suffering in my life. It was pervasive and more than just uncomfortable. While I wouldn’t say that minimalism is a cure for everything, the simple act of decluttering has had a profoundly positive impact on my mental health.
Admittedly, the beginnings were modest. I simply found that a tidy home infused me with a noticeable calm. A calm that was comparable to how I now feel after a short period of meditation. My progress was slow and anxiety continued to gnaw away at me. But soon after I realized that tidying clutter soothed me, I learned that the action was easier if I donated or discarded any unused or underutilized belongings.
I downsized my wardrobe, pared down my possessions, digitized my files, and made every attempt to simplify. As I approached this minimalist ideal, I found myself feeling increasingly better. I believe that it was these efforts that led in large part to increased productivity, intentionality, and focus on the things that are most important in my life.
While there is no substitute for medication or therapy for many kinds of pain and suffering, I’ve found that limiting physical clutter has brought about a decrease in mental clutter and anxiety. In my role as a social worker, I have been in the homes of a number of hoarders. Most often, the individuals living in these environments experience disordered thinking. It could be that the inverse is also true.
Start small and take one step at a time, no matter what has led you to become a minimalist. I continue to see improvements in my life as I explore minimalism and I have received a great deal of help and support from like-minded individuals along the way. If you experience anxiety, you know if can be a debilitating condition. Any tool that helps you fight it is invaluable. Minimalism is one of them.