Why Having A Minimalist Living Style May Be Good For Your Health

It's no secret that we live in a society surrounded by physical items, and the ease of online shopping certainly doesn't help to decrease the number of material things we accumulate. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services found that e-commerce sales surpassed $4 trillion during the pandemic and the use of online purchasing has continued at an elevated rate even as quarantine lockdowns and restrictions have been lifted. Combined with fast fashion, the plethora of advertisements we see on a daily basis, and the collective attitude of the modern world that emphasizes staying current with trends by buying the latest item releases, it's no wonder that the number of storage unit facilities in the United States has been rising by the thousands with each passing year.

As material accumulation has increased, the emergence of minimalism has made its way into popular dialogue. The adoption of a minimalist living style, or even a few aspects of minimalist living if you aren't ready to go all the way, can have tremendously positive effects on your health and overall wellness, including your mood and happiness. While Marie Kondo's method of extreme materialism reduction has been credited with bringing minimalism into the popular consciousness, you don't have to throw away all of your belongings to reap the benefits of minimalist living. Instead, you can think of minimalism as being interchangeable with simplistic living, decluttering, or annual spring cleaning. Making small changes can lead to big impacts on well-being.

De-stress by decluttering

Living with less stress may feel like an unreachable goal at times, but trust that it's absolutely possible to lower your stress levels by decluttering even just a little bit. Being surrounded by piles of material items, from a cluttered desk to clothing on your bedroom floor, can lead to experiences of feeling overwhelmed and disheartened. Mountains of stuff to be organized and surfaces beneath them to be cleaned can add both items to your to-do list and stress to your day. An excess of items in your environment can result in increased anxiety, frustration, and the hormone cortisol, which is produced in our bodies when we feel stressed. 

The ways in which material items can affect your life don't stop with stress and anxiety, but the combination of feeling overwhelmed and having a cluttered space can reduce your productivity by actually making your brain less effective at processing information. A negative cyclical effect then occurs wherein you become stressed as your productivity is stalled, which leads to more stress as decreased productivity adds more to your to-do list and ultimately causes productivity to decline even further. Breaking this cycle can make you feel happier, refreshed, and capable of conquering anything that comes your way. Start by setting a timer to tackle one area of clutter for a few minutes each day. For example, spend 15 minutes sorting through mail on your kitchen table or folding baskets of laundry. Doing a little each day makes decluttering manageable.

Breathe easier with less cleaning

As clutter is slowly removed from spaces, the surfaces beneath the items can be cleaned. If left clear, those same surfaces can be more easily cleaned moving forward. The result is a newfound ability to clear your home or workspace of dust, dirt, and other pathogens without first having to tackle the organization of piles of items, which can feel disheartening and unachievable if the amount of clutter on surfaces is excessive. EPA reports that indoor air quality is critically important because the average American spends most of their day inside in spaces where indoor air pollution can be as much as five times higher than the amount of pollution outside. When indoor spaces are cluttered, there's an increased risk of dust accumulation and cleaning surfaces covered in items can be more time-consuming or a task that is avoided altogether, thus worsening indoor air quality in another cyclical effect brought about by owning too many material objects.

When surfaces in your home, such as countertops, furniture, floors, and carpets, are cleared of clutter then cleaning them can be a simple task accomplished within a few minutes instead of spending hours dismantling mountains of clutter before being able to clean them. Be mindful not to let clutter re-accumulate so that these surfaces remain clear and able to be cleaned efficiently. Investing in air purifiers with HEPA filters can further improve indoor air quality and help you breathe with ease.

Sleep better and wake up happier

If you can breathe better in your home, then you're likely going to get better sleep, too. This is because with clean air comes a lesser risk of inhaling dirt, dander, dust, and common indoor air pollutants that have the potential to obstruct your breathing at night. A 2020 study published in Environmental Pollution determined that improving indoor air quality can lead to better quality of sleep by decreasing snoring and nighttime disruptions from allergens and other air pollutants which affect homes and buildings. By having surfaces cleared of clutter and able to be regularly cleaned, you can successfully eliminate dust that settles on countertops, furniture, and flooring, while a HEPA filter can keep your air cleaner, especially if you place an air purifier in your bedroom. Since allergens like dust, dirt, and dander can disrupt your sleep cycles, the best way to ensure you achieve all of the necessary sleep phases for a restful night is to keep your home and air quality as clean as possible.

Circling back to how adopting a minimalist living style can decrease your stress levels, going to bed in a home that is void of overwhelming piles of stuff and disorganized clutter that lengthens your to-do list can give you the gift of rejuvenating slumber. Since excess clutter can inhibit visual processing, clear thinking, and mood, waking up in environments with minimalist aesthetics can give you an immediate boost of clarity and happiness in the mornings.

Your bank account will thank you

Reducing the clutter in your home through cleaning, organizing, and finding ways to incorporate minimalist living into your routine, like finding innovative ways to refashion your clothing instead of buying new clothes or deleting unused apps and documents from electronic devices, can lead to positive impacts on your physical health by improving your pulmonary health, allowing you to sleep better, and reducing your cortisol levels. 

But the health effects of a minimalist lifestyle don't stop there since adopting minimalist habits can improve your financial health, too. When you stop purchasing items that aren't necessary and instead find ways to use the things you already own to meet your needs, you'll likely find that your bank account is in a healthier state. Especially if you're prone to boredom-induced online shopping sprees or freely spending whenever you go to a store, your bank account will thank you profusely when your balance no longer takes a nosedive each time you open the Amazon app or walk into your favorite boutique. Additionally, if you decide to declutter by selling items that you find you aren't using, such as clothing and furniture, you'll be able to make deposits instead of withdrawals. Just like sounder sleep, easier breathing, and a happier visual space lead to reduced stress, so does seeing your bank account thrive. Minimalist living and eliminating extraneous spending can help you build a savings account, get out of debt, and prioritize the purchases you really want to make.

Practice wellness habits naturally

Overall, finding ways to curate minimalist living habits into your life and daily routine can produce an array of positive effects on your health. As a capstone on the benefits of minimalist living and saying goodbye to clutter, you will likely find that you have the time, space, and energy to prioritize wellness practices now that you aren't bogged down by chaotic surfaces and overwhelming environments. When you aren't faced with clutter, you're more likely to be able to express creativity and think freely. Without a long to-do list involving extensive organizing and cleaning, you'll have more time to be creative, which is a win-win!

As you transition to minimalist living, you can decide to keep only items that make you happy or spark inspiration. Creating spaces in your home that are clean, spacious, and contain items you regularly use or which make you smile can boost your overall mood and mindset. With fewer belongings, you'll be able to more easily find the items you may be searching for, a concept that extends to digital spaces like your email inbox and desktop screen. When you can easily access something, you're more prone to use it. This is the perfect time to embrace the health benefits of wellness practices like journaling, gratitude, and mindfulness through truly appreciating the items you have and being able to use them knowing that you've chosen to keep them for a special reason. Better yet, gratitude and mindfulness also benefit health.