By: Guest Author
Published: September 13, 2018
Contributed by Brooke Faulkner- Guest Contributor
One of the consequences of a life well-lived is the accumulation of stuff. We are gifted items by loved ones; we buy them for ourselves to serve as keepsakes from our favorite vacation destinations, and there’s all of the stuff we need but may not actually care that much for.
For the sentimentalist especially, things matter. There’s even research that suggests ownership happens at a psychological level for humans.
Christian Jarrett wrote for the British Psychological Society in response to that research, “As our lives unfold, our things embody our sense of selfhood and identity still further, becoming external receptacles for our memories, relationships and travels.”
So while it makes sense, it can become a larger component of life than what we actually want it to be. Sometimes, our stuff is given such a substantial amount of not just physical but also mental space that it distracts from other things in life that matter more.
If you’re bogged down or overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your life, rest assured that there are some fairly easy steps you can take to change things:
Give Yourself a Goal
As with most things in life, the best way to achieve something is to know what you want to achieve. If you want to live with less baggage, think through what that means to you personally.
If you’re struggling to determine what level of downsizing you want to achieve, think about what makes you passionate and ready to embrace experiences and loved ones and begin thinking about how you can cut out everything that detracts from that.
Break up your goal into smaller, actionable goals. Give yourself a realistic timeline to accomplish each step of your plan.
Declutter Your Space
You may want to cut out 15 percent of your material possessions, but you may also want to cut out 50 percent. Either way, decluttering is a necessary step to making that happen.
Decide what sentimental items stay regardless of their practical value: There are going to be some items that don’t serve a purpose except that of making you happy. That is totally okay. In fact, that’s awesome. But you do need to decide what items actually matter to you.
Determine what to throw away or donate: If you haven’t used an item in a year, it probably needs to go. A year is a good amount of time because some items are seasonal.
Hide what you’re on the fence about: If there are things you just can’t decide on, put them out of site for no more than six months, and then reevaluate. If you found yourself needing it, or lamenting the loss of it, you’ll know you’re not ready to toss it yet.
Curate a Capsule Wardrobe
Long gone are the days when the fashion industry separated its goods into seasonal wear. Instead, every week of the year, marketers are churning out what they claim are new styles for the masses. For a lot of women, what that means is closets that are full to bursting.
A capsule wardrobe is a surefire way to combat that. The idea of a limited amount of classic pieces, with accessories to supplement your style, has been around since the 1970s.
Nicole Anzia writes for The Washington Post, “For most women, the capsule would probably include some combination of the following: a couple of pairs of pants and two skirts in navy and black; dark denim jeans and white jeans; a classic, black V-neck sweater; several basic T-shirts; a long-sleeved blouse and a white sleeveless blouse.”
You get to choose the number of wardrobe items and the supplemental pieces. If done correctly, the end result is a curated wardrobe with fewer items but all of which are well-loved by the curator. Such a situation would simplify organization and getting ready each day.
You could even take it another step: Further declutter by storing out-of-season clothing elsewhere.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
One of the keys to living with less is to prioritize quality over quantity. Not only will the result be fewer items, but the price you pay for quality will end up saving you as time goes on and you have fewer items needing replacement.
In terms of what you fill your home with, storage experts say this is the first step in living minimally: “Don’t go out and spend a lot of money furnishing a whole room in a style or fashion that may not stand the test of time. Invest in furniture, wait for vintage finds or collect unique pieces that will stay in your home for a long time.”
If there are items in your home causing clutter, consider if there’s a better alternative. Similarly, if there are items you find yourself replacing often, it’s possible there are other options that won’t need to replaced as frequently.
Sometimes the things weighing us down aren’t actually things – they’re relationships that negatively impact not just on our own health but also on our ability to relate well to others.
Research has shown women in relationships with high levels of conflict have similarly high levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and high rates of obesity. Additionally, some research even suggests that it can slow wound healing, and it’s been shown to lead to risks of heart problems.
Thus, when we make the effort to maintain unhealthy relationships, we’re really opening ourselves up to so much more than just that. And again, these types of relational issues take a toll not just on the emotional and physical health of those directly involved, but also of those around them.
If you’re interested in making room for what matters, you’re going to clear out the personal relationships you have that aren’t adding anything to your life in the interest of protecting and investing in the relationships that do.
Overall, there’s nothing wrong with stuff. Indeed, the things we collect are often associated with some of the best memories and experiences life has brought our way. However, sometimes stuff gets in the way of the best parts of the life we have right in front of us.
If you’re unwilling to have loved ones over because you feel self-conscious as a result of clutter, or if it’s simply too distracting for you, then consider how you can take steps to downsize in the interest of prioritizing the most valuable components of your life.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and animal lover from Portland, Oregon.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.