Finding Peace in a Chaotic World

Do you regularly feel overwhelmed, stressed, and like you’re doing too much? Here’s how simplifying can bring back peace and clarity to your life.

We’ve all had periods where we feel like life is getting on top of us, that we’re struggling to keep up. Whether it’s health, work, money, or family, there are so many demands on you, and the stress can get too much. De you feel the joy is being sucked out of life? Here’s how simplifying your life can help you get back on track and feel happier.

1. What’s your “why”?

Simplifying is all about finding what really matters to you? Decluttering is a part of it, but for permanent change, you need to change your mindset. Several recent studies have shown a link between depression and physical and mental clutter. I started simplifying my life after several tough years of family ill health and bereavement, relationship problems, and job stress. I felt like I had become derailed and wanted to get back on track.

Action What is your primary goal, or what would you like to make a priority? Use that to underpin your simplifying journey.

2. Less decision fatigue

To cut the overwhelm, you simply need to have less stuff. Your day will run much more smoothly if your wardrobe is pared down to things you really love, and your house isn’t filled to the brim. Giving yourself that white space will be a relied.

Action Ask yourself: do I need this? Will I use it again? If it’s redundant or outdated, you don’t get brownie points for keeping something longer than necessary.

3. Appreciate the simple things

When your life is so busy and full, it’s impossible to slow down and appreciate the smaller things. We’re so accustomed to busy is better, that it’s almost sacrilegious to unbusy your schedule. And too much of a good thing, like shopping or eating out, makes it lose its allure. Once you have gotten rid of the unimportant things in your life and start focusing on your priorities, you can enjoy (often free) things.

Action Listen to the morning birds with a good cup of coffee. Learn to make your favorite cocktail at home.

4. Become a conscious consumer

Hands up who’s bought things they don’t really need on a whim? Of course, we all need to treat ourselves once in a while, but really think about whether it’s essential and what your motivation is. By thinking more carefully about what you’re purchasing, you’ll only bring new things into your house that will get used.

Action For any purchase over 50 dollars, give yourself a cooling-off period before buying it, say 7 to 30 days. Often, you’ll forget all about it or realize you can get by without it. If it doesn’t, it clarifies your determination that you need it.

5. Help others with your remorse

One of the hardest things, when you pare back your belongings is the feeling of guilt, whether it’s about wasted time or money. But to counteract this, think about all the good causes you’ll be helping when you purge and the pleasure the recipients will get from them.

Action As a family, decide on a charity that you would like to donate your items to or for extra motivation. Get each member to choose a cause that’s important to them. Many do pick-ups directly from your home. I donated my stuff to three charities – Cats Protection, Borders Pet Rescue, and homeless charity Streetwork.

6. Tidy house, tidy mind

Once you’re in full swing of purging and are able to see more white space, you really will notice a sense of peace return. Your home will be less stressful, you’ll enjoy it more and that, in turn, will carry over into your life outside. I found it much easier to cope with my job stress and family health issues, knowing that my home was a calm sanctuary. I also knew the calmer I was, the more able I was to distinguish between minor irritations and things that really mattered.

Action If something is bothering you, ask yourself, will it make a difference if I say something, or will I make it worse and waste my time? Learning to bite your tongue is very hard but will save you a lot of unnecessary hassle.

7. Value experiences over things

Having something to show for your money is a big motivation when you work hard, but when you think about your priorities in life, no one ever thought “I need more stuff”. Spend your time and money doing something to create memories and connect with friends and family.

Action Cool off the online shopping and message a friend to make a coffee date. Have a themed pot-luck dinner party.

8. Don’t save things for Sunday best

It’s natural to want to keep your nice things nice, but having things and not enjoying them is a waste of money. If you wait for the ideal time to use something or do something, you’ll always put it off.

Action Try wearing your “good” dress this weekend. Use that gift certificate to get a nice haircut and go out to dinner.

9. Streamline your kitchen

You’ve had a long day; you’re tired, you’re hungry. Cook a meal from scratch? No thanks, that’s the last thing you probably want to do? Start meal planning and bulk-cooking. You’ll save time and money. Also, anything out on your kitchen counter has to be used daily or several times a week. Otherwise, put it away.

Action Start saving slow cooker recipes from Pinterest and other cooking blogs.

10. Ditch the anxiety and overthinking

This is one of the hardest things to tackle in your simplifying journey. Once you’ve cleared all the crap from your life, it can leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable initially because you’re not hiding behind the busyness of life or mountains of clutter. But by this stage, you’ll realize that it’s not stuff you need to feel good about yourself. You’ll build your self-esteem from a better foundation.

Action Perform one simple act of kindness each day for a confidence boost. Read Rising Strong by Brené Brown and Creating Space To Thrive by Courtney Kenney.