Does a Minimalist Lifestyle Decrease Your Stress Levels? 120

Does a Minimalist Lifestyle Decrease Your Stress Levels?

This is a guest post by Emily, a sustainability writer who believes in creating a better life that is also better for our planet. She is also the editor of Conservation Folks.

There has been a growing global trend toward minimalism. People are abandoning anything from cable TV to extra pairs of clothing.

When asking about such lifestyle changes, you will probably hear something about “simplifying” or “not stressing”. People everywhere are downsizing and forsaking the very things that once symbolized comfort and success, all in pursuit of destressing.

But is there a truth to that? Can you quickly eliminate stress by merely cutting down the amount of stuff in your life?

For now, the answer seems to be yes.

The Purpose of Decluttering

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The underlying philosophy of minimalism is very, very similar to decluttering. By minimalizing you are in essence decluttering your very existence.

Decluttering focuses on the micro, though, advising you to clean up this pile of papers or sort through that drawer, taking a steady and measured approach to cleaning and organizing each room in your house.

The purpose of decluttering is freeing your mind from all the distracting and ugly things surrounding you.

A messy bed or cluttered floor unconsciously weighs on your mind, making you feel cornered and threatened by encroaching junk. By cleaning, you are essentially putting your life back together and allowing yourself to focus on a beautiful and well-ordered environment.

Minimalism is the same basic premise, taken one step further.

Instead of only focusing on the things that are junk, minimalism seeks to eliminate anything that draws your unconscious focus away from those belongings connected to joy or fond memories. You’ll end up with a lot of empty space — the same side-effect as cleaning.

Social Competition

Ownership is a huge factor in social status. What other reason could people have to buy gigantic HD TVs and home theatre systems?

While quality can be nice, the need to show others your new toys is something fundamentally connected to being human. And like any other competitive game, ownership can be very stressful. We want to keep up, to compete with our friends and neighbors.

The fact remains: you can’t lose a game you don’t play.

By making the conscious choice to cast away objects of material competition, you will have nothing to compare with others. You’ll even make your friends uncomfortable showing off their new toys: it is socially taboo to flaunt your possessions if others have none.

The same angle applies to new, trendy clothing, expensive artwork, and anything else that causes competitive social anxiety.

This can even have the added benefit of steering your friendships to a new depth that would be otherwise impossible. Conversations can stray away from superficial topics on recent purchases and into more existential, significant territories. It won’t happen every time, but the possibility is there.

Money

It’s fine to wax philosophical, but there is one concrete benefit to downsizing and minimalizing: you save a ton of money. All the money that normally goes into new and unnecessary possessions ends up in your pocket.

Freed from the need to compete and stack your things against others’, spend that money any way you want! Go on a vacation with the kids, put it toward a project you’ve always wanted to complete. It’s entirely your call, as long as it makes you happy.

Of course, giving yourself these memorable, meaningful experiences also does wonders for your long-term stress levels. You’ll feel more fulfilled, more capable of doing what you want when you want to.

And if you choose to save the money, that lessens a whole brand of financial stress as well. No more need to paint the radiator black to try to save a few dollars!

You

One of the greatest modern myths is that an abundance of pricy items makes a person happy.

You fill your day looking through a loaded wardrobe or staring at the TV, and that makes you happy, right? But in this lifestyle, where do you fit in?

Consumerism seems to make you a witness to your own life, passively wasting your time and distracting yourself from the things you want.

This is the big one: minimalism leaves time for you.

Instead of distracting yourself by staring at your vast — impossible to ignore — TV, you can sit with nothing but a cup of coffee and get to know yourself again. Take a walk in a beautiful place, put on a pair of wool socks and snuggle up with a book, putting yourself in the shoes of your favorite character.

If you really love a movie or a show, go ahead and treat yourself to it. Minimalism makes room for anything you care about, whatever form it takes.

Minimalism

One final thing to remember: minimalism is a process. Don’t throw out your TV, burn your wardrobe and lock yourself in your room tomorrow.

Take a few days and really think about the things you want and need in your life. Then slowly move away from the rest.

You’ll find your social stress subsiding, especially as you carve out time for yourself.

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The Importance of Exercise to Your Professional Success 4

The Importance of Exercise to Your Professional Success

In today’s world, most jobs are demanding both physically and mentally. Competition is not always based on the best resume, education, or experience. Having the upper hand in your profession is most likely linked to your ability to think quickly, act appropriately, and carry out difficult duties with the utmost quality.

You need to be able to bring something new, different, and maybe even better to the table. So, how can you get the edge? How can you maximize your professional potential and output?

Believe it or not, the answer to that question might be found outside the workplace. It may be what you do when you are not at work that makes the difference in your work. What is it? EXERCISE, that’s what!

Replace Some Screen Time or Other Time Wasters.

Everyone needs to take a break from the workday. Television, gaming, social media, and video-viewing are what we often go to for this.

Try replacing some of your downtime with exercise, or trying exercising while you are in front of the screen. Exercising instead of sitting will not only help relieve some stress from your day but also help release some built up tension so you can actually rest better at night, helping you be better prepared for the next work day.

Exercising a few hours before bedtime elevates your body temperature. When your body temperature returns to normal, your brain and body are ready to sleep.

Exercise Sharpens Your Thinking.

It is a fact that as we age, our cognitive abilities decline.

While researchers may not have found the cure for dementia-related disorders, they do know that exercise helps delay onset or slow down its progression. Exercising during the years of 25 – 45 can boost the brain chemicals that prevent shrinking of the brain. It has also been shown to create new brain cells and increase proteins found in the brain that help keep thinking skills sharp.

Exercise Reduces Sick Time.

Exercise improves general health functioning and helps build your immunity to illnesses.

It has also been shown to increase our ability to think and work under stress, rather than giving in to the stress and being more susceptible to illness.

This keeps you reporting to work on a regular basis, and taking less sick days. The more you are at work, the more productive you are, and the more your employer values you.

Working Out Increases Your Stamina.

Long work days can leave you drained and listless. If you know you are facing long meetings, strenuous work sessions, or overtime for increased production demands, you can prepare to meet these challenges head-on.

As you exercise, over time your stamina will be able to withstand longer and more strenuous workouts. It also translates into helping you stay sharp during those long, arduous workdays.

Yes, How You Look Does Count.

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While it may never be mentioned, your appearance is noticed by employers, co-workers, interviewers, etc. You do not necessarily need to look like a buff bodybuilder, but having a svelte, strong appearance is a benefit.

Other’s first perception of you is of great importance. Think about interviewing prospective employees. Honestly consider the impact of their first impression on their employment outlook. Healthy looking is definitely a check in the “yes” column.

Energy levels are also higher when you are exercising regularly, and your energy is part of how you are perceived overall. When you start to feel better about yourself, you begin to present a more positive image to your coworkers.

It Boosts Your Confidence.

When you have conquered a goal in your exercise plan, like being able to run an entire mile instead of having to stop and walk some, you know you have accomplished something. You are on your way to bigger and better goals.

There may have been times along the way that you felt like that milestone would never come, but here it is. You feel proud and motivated to keep working toward your next goal. You see the fruits of your labor. You are energized and begin to feel better about yourself overall.

You begin to feel a sense of accomplishment that does not leave when you exit the gym doors. You carry that as a boost in your confidence as you go into work.

Bring the Habits of Exercise to Work.

What else do you learn through exercise? Goal setting, resilience, perseverance, learning new things, taking chances, organizing and managing your time, just to name a few. These are great skills to boost your performance at work, too.

You begin to realize that you can take what you have learned through setting up and sticking with an exercise plan to the workplace. You can use all these skills in your career. As you do, you will become more confident and thus, more effective in your daily tasks.

All of these are learned by starting, committing to, and following through with a fitness plan, and can become more of a life plan.

If you are looking for a job, being physically fit might not get you the job, but it will definitely help your chances. Your first impression is incredibly important, so do not brush off exercise and fitness lightly.

Exercise has so many benefits like sharpening thinking, building stamina, increasing energy, reducing negative effects of stress, building immunity, and boosting self-confidence. This can really help you in your professional success.

The benefits extend beyond your exercise time.

They stay with you day in and day out. If you are not currently exercising regularly, just start today, doing something small. Some sit-ups in front of the television, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, cleaning up your diet, or increasing your walking pace as you move around the office are good ways to get started. You will feel the benefits, even with these small steps.