45. Minimalism + Anxiety

Welcome back to The LoDown Living Podcast. Today is one of those shows where I'm talking about something that I'm currently going through. Many times I take my time experiencing something, process it and then report back via social media, the blog or here. But this time, I'm talking about this while I'm in it. And today's topic is about minimalism and anxiety.

You're probably wondering how either of these things are related and to be honest, at one point I wondered that same thing. But truth be told, I started minimalism because of my anxiety. Anxiety can be a paralyzing emotion and circumstance. It can come to you at any moment, without warning and sometimes you don't feel equipped with the right tools to get out of it. I mean, let's be honest, sometimes you don't even really know what caused it.

And that's completely okay.

But let me just say this from the get go...I'm not an expert on anxiety. I haven't had anxiety for very long and so I don't want you to take this as medical advice. If you suffer from anxiety and have for quite some time, I recommend seeing a health professional or someone who has a formal background in dealing with those types of circumstances.

As always, this show is me sharing my experiences and lessons so that you can feel that you're not alone and that you have a spark of inspiration to start changing your life from the inside out. You're always welcome here exactly as you are. Promise.

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Where My Anxiety Began

This is a tough question to answer. I think that maybe I've always had a bit of anxiety about making decisions. Something you may not know about me is that I'm very indecisive. And not just about big, life-changing decisions but, also about small things too.

Truthfully, it doesn't matter if I'm deciding about if I should take a new job or if I'm deciding on what to eat for dinner. It takes me quite awhile to finally come to the answer. And sometimes I decide and pull back, decide and pull back. It's extremely frustrating and even can be annoying to myself at times. I don't think I ever knew it was anxiety until recently. But, looking back I think that's what it's always been.

I have a difficult time deciding when I'm presented with too many options. Especially if they're all pretty decent. I mean, you tell me to choose between tacos or caviar....I'm choosing tacos before you even finish your sentence. But you say tacos, pizza, burgers or buffalo wings...damn, you've got me there.

And, I know I'm making a bit of a joke about it here but I truly understand that seriousness around anxiety. There have been times that I've been on the floor crying because I just truly didn't know what to decide and I was scared of making a wrong decision.

Another example of indecision is about clothes. I'm not the most fashionable of people. Thankfully my sister is a personal stylist and I can call her when I need help. But I remember plenty of times when I would be wasting my morning hours because I was putting clothes on and tossing them off. Sometimes this would happen because they didn't fit right, I didn't really like them that much or I had never purchased the complementary piece to go with it.

It all just became too much. Too many decisions to make around jobs, food, money, clothes, etc. 

I'm sure you've heard the stories about people who had big companies and how they wore the same thing every single day. Like Steve Jobs. He wore that same black turtleneck and blue jeans because it was one less decision he had to make. He wanted to spend his mental capacity and energy on creating the company Apple, not on what he was going to wear that day.

My boyfriend Albert does a similar thing. He works in finance and all of his work clothes match one another. They're all good quality and of the same color scheme. When I met him I thought it was super weird but, when I asked he said he didn't want to have to decide what to wear. He wanted to know that everything in his closet matched so that he could just pick a shirt and a pair of pants and be out the door.

Smart, right? Why don't more of us do this?

How Minimalism Ties In

Minimalism was the answer to my anxiety. I realized that I could no longer be productive with a chaotic life. I needed to simplify things and make things easier on myself. But, when I first read about minimalism it was The Minimalists documentary on Netflix. And one of the guys talked about how he had like 2 pairs of jeans, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, no internet, only a bed and a lamp, etc. It just sounded extreme but, that's what worked for him.

I knew that wasn't my reality.

I wanted to find out how I could still live an abundant and beautiful life while making fewer decisions. How could I clear up my mental space to think and enjoy new things while currently enjoying my circumstances? I wasn't 100% sure but I wanted to start.

This, believe it or not, was probably the easiest decision I've ever made - beginning living a minimal life.

I started with my closet. I took out everything I hadn't worn in 6 months (not counting seasonal clothing), I tried on the rest and took out what didn't fit. I donated/sold everything that I had taken out.

Honestly, I wasn't left with a lot but I did have left were pieces that fit me great and I truly enjoyed wearing. This cleared up space in my mind for less decision making around what to wear and if I liked it and it cleared up space for me to bring in new pieces that fit my new mindset around my wardrobe.

My studio apartment was also an intentional decision in terms of minimalism. I didn't want a ton of space that I had to decide what to fill each room with. Plus, it's just me...I don't need a separate bedroom, separate living room, etc. And I wanted to be intentional about the money I was spending on my living arrangements. I've also been extremely intentional about the furniture in my home. A few pieces I've refurbished from goodwill, others I've spent a good amount of money on so that I know it'll last awhile (like my mattress and bed frame) and others I truly just love.

But, everything here has a purpose.

Creating a minimalist life isn't about a trend for me. It's not about jumping on any bandwagon and seeming cool to outside people. It's about taking things back down to the core of where they came from. It's about taking away unnecessary stress and indecision so that I have space and time to live and create the way I need to. It's about lessening my anxiety in areas that I have control over. It's about continuing to live with intention.

And to show you that I'm currently in this and not an expert...the one area I still struggle with is food. One of the questions I ask myself almost every hour is "what am I going to eat next?" Or, "what's for dinner?" It's some variation around food. While I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I'll eat the same thing every day, I would like to get to the point where I don't worry about it.

Food is held in a high position in my life which is where my work with Intuitive Eating begins. But that just goes to show that, minimalism & anxiety are things in my life that I am currently working through.

4 Ways To Begin A Minimalist Life

  1. Take an assessment of your surroundings. How do they make you feel? Where in your home are do you get tripped up the most? (deciding on food? clothes? showering? tv? etc.)
  2. What would a minimal life look like FOR YOU?
  3. Where can you start small? (cleaning out your car? wallet? closet?)
  4. What could you do with the time & space you'd get back from beginning?

Thank you so much for tuning in to today's show. I would love to hear about your experiences with minimizing your life or belongings, share below! You can find today's show notes & resources below.