Minimalism and Mental Illness

How minimalism helped me cure a pre-depression state

Words by Francisca Duarte Gonçalves

I once read in a book that big life changes happen because of one of two reasons: because we have expanded willpower or because life takes us to that point and we do not have another way out than change. The adaptation of minimalism to my life was a mix of these two factors.

In the last trimester of 2019, my life was in a phase I never thought it could be. For various reasons, I was feeling sad and had almost no control over my thoughts, words, and even actions—a psychological pain that sometimes transformed into physical pain. Because of this, I asked for help for the first time in my life. I consulted a psychotherapist, and we started fortnightly sessions where I created mental instruments and strategies that led me to reflect on what my life is and who I am.

During this time, due to the pandemic of COVID-19, the Portuguese government closed all non-essential activities. I started to have college lessons at home, and my "free" time increased considerably. In one of those "dead moments," the documentary Minimalism popped up on my screen on a streaming platform. And that was only the beginning.

I started to reflect on what minimalism was and how it could be implemented. Soon, I realized that it could be implemented in quite literally everything! I see minimalism as the maintenance of the absolutely essential and as a happiness enhancer in our lives, whether physical or not. So I started with the material, physical, and tangible dimension: my bedroom, clothes, and school supplies collection. This quickly revealed a shopping addiction that I had never realized I had. At this stage, I was already capable seeing the benefits of minimalism on many levels. Because of that, I extended minimalism to the not-so-tangible areas: relationships, objectives, friendships, values, and preferences. This, my friends, was one of the best things that I could ever do for myself.

It may seem that I am romanticizing minimalism, but sincerely, I do not see any problem with this. The truth is that when I realized what minimalism is and started to implement the practice, I felt the reestablishment of the light and joy that I had lost. I believe that the biggest proof I can give to you is the fact that I have not fallen back into that cold and black hole since I became a minimalist and tried to keep those principles in everything in my life. As a university student, I look for scientific evidence in almost everything, so I searched for, but did not find, studies on the relationship between implementing minimalism and the regression of mental illnesses. However, I can personally guarantee you that minimalism helped me to win that fight.

Francisca Duarte Gonçalves

Francisca Duarte Gonçalves is a student at the longstanding University of Coimbra (Portugal) and surrendered to minimalism in the weird year of 2020.

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@franciscadgoncalves
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blogvidasimplificada.blogspot.com

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