Living as a minimalist is personally one of the most effective lifestyle changes I’ve come across in managing life with a chronic illness. There’s no one definition for minimalism. Becomingminimalist.com explains it as, “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from.” Despite common belief, the practice of minimalism is actually about having more, not having less. By getting rid of what we don’t need, we have more space and energy for what you truly desire.
How is minimalism relevant to chronic illness ?
Chronic illness complicates daily life. Pain, fatigue, and other disabling symptoms often increase the amount of time it takes to do basic tasks. When the brain is occupied by a chronic fight, it’s hard to pay attention and get things accomplished in an effective manner. Unfortunately lack of adequate sleep, rest, and nutrition often compound upon the original problems. Minimalism offers a strategy to manage limited resources like energy and attention. Life with illness means there’s less of these resources to begin with, making any strategy that offers am way to better manage such things even more valuable to the chronic illness community.
How I Use Minimalism In My Life
- What I have: If I’m not going to make something with it, learn from it, or require it to survive, then I don’t own it. Less stuff means less things to loose and less things to clean. This can be especially helpful for managing brain fog, memory issues, energy, and pain.
- How I spend time: Everything I choose to do is a balance between enjoying the present and bringing me towards a future that I want. If something doesn’t fit within this context, then it’s something I try not to do unless it is absolutely necessary. This distinction has been especially helpful in evaluating how much time to invest in therapy and doctors appointments. I’ve also used this mindset to reevaluate how I spend time when I’m really sick. I learned that the best way for me to use this time is actually to to do absolutely nothing as opposed to past habits of failed attempts to keep my mind occupied by netflix.
- Who I connect with: The people I choose to regularly spend time with add meaning to my life. I’ve let go of old relationships which are no longer relevant, the people who continuously take more than they give, and those who bring stress into my life. This process was especially helpful for removing anyone who couldn’t appropriately support or deal with my health conditions. It was incredibly hard, but probably the most important thing I’ve done to find more happiness.
- What information I invest in: I make an effort to only consume media purposefully and for positive reasons. Not being able to work or go to school makes it easier to get unnecessarily lost in these kinds of distractions. I found that by being mindful about media use, I had more time to spend doing things that were much more meaningful to me… like writing this blog!
How To Get Started?
1. Learn more about the diversity of minimalism!
2. Take some time to establish what you truly desire. In order to get rid of what you don’t need, it’s best to have a clear picture of what you actually want. This isn’t because you should be afraid of letting go, but because it will help you stay on track towards getting what you want. If you can’t figure that out, it’s still ok to get started anyway! As a minimalist you will continuously be forced to evaluate and prioritize. Through this process you will discover what you really want out of life.
3. Start a minimalism trial in whatever area of life you think will be the easiest for you. For many people this begins at home with physical items. However there’s no reason you can’t begin with any other area of life such as relationships, activities, electronic data, or media consumption.
“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” –Vernon Howard