Minimalist habits are popular right now, especially in the invisible illness community. Mainly because they offer a simple way of living that decreases the stress and anxiety of daily life. Which is needed for those of us managing an invisible illness. Complications with chronic pain and mental health make it a challenge to function while decreasing quality of life. Furthermore, medical intervention with medication can be hard for many to access or prove to be ineffective. However, making modifications such as following a minimalist lifestyle can increase life quality while simultaneously improving mental health.
Minimalist Habits & Their Benefits
While I’m not a die-hard minimalist, I’ve experienced the perks of adding specific minimalist habits into my lifestyle. And let me tell you, these simple changes made an extraordinary impact on how I managed my endometriosis. Consequently, they also played a role in improving my mental health.
Chronic pain, painful periods, and mental illness can be a formidable combination to deal with. There were many occasions that I felt out of control and disconnected from myself and the world around me. Simplifying my life and becoming more “minimalist” helped me regain the control and discipline I needed. For instance, I found my endo symptoms were easier to manage. The number of panic attacks I had decreased. Additionally, I also found it better to manage my mental health.
Decreased My Anxiety
Living in a cluttered, junky space made me feel sloppy and junky mentally and emotionally. Which made me more anxious—especially during flare-ups and high pain days. Being in extreme pain and having my home look disorganized increased my anxiety, making me feel worse. As I was able to implement more minimalist habits into my lifestyle, housekeeping became easier. I was able to stay organized and keep a tidy home without spending hours cleaning everyday. Therefore, when I was struggling with a flare-up or in a bad place mentally. I took comfort knowing that my house was taken care of.
Helped with Brain Fog
If you have a chronic illness or mental disorder, you know how severe brain fog can be. Not being able to focus, concentrate, or complete a task felt like I was wading through quicksand. Yet, placing priority on specific minimalist habits helped me create systems and routines that I could easily follow. This helped me focus and concentrate a little bit better and made brain fog much more manageable.
Improved Quality of Life
Flare-ups suck. Depression sucks. Feeling like you’re stuck in a bottomless pit, whether it’s caused by unrelenting physical pain or mental pain, is awful. However, altering the environment around you can make a difference. While making these changes won’t cure your condition, take away chronic pain, or make mental health issues disappear. They can make life more manageable. And, sometimes, that’s all you need to make it through a tough time.
7 Minimalist Habits for Invisible Illness Warriors
So, what exactly are these habits that changed my life and helped make my endometriosis and bipolar disorder easier to manage?
Create A Calm Minimal Aesthetic
I’ve always been drawn to Scandinavian and Contemporary decor. Mostly because of the neutral color scheme and the emphasis on a minimalist aesthetic. However, making the switch to a more minimal look for my home meant a lot of decluttering, a lot of paring down, and organizing. I had to purge all the items that no longer served me and commit to a minimal decorating style that didn’t induce too much clutter. Furthermore, organizing the things I decided to keep prevented them from creating a mess and overwhelming my home.
Additionally, I started transitioning to a more neutral color palette and focused on whites, blacks, and grays with the occasional pop of color. Not only does this make my home feel more cohesive, stylish, and dare I say expensive. But, it also has a calming effect, which really helps my anxiety.
Tidy As You Go
This, by far, is the most difficult minimalist habit to develop but, for sure, the most beneficial. Making it a practice to tidy up as you go reduces the amount of time you spend cleaning. Great examples of tidying as you go include cleaning up after you eat or cook, putting things away at the end of the day, and wiping down countertops and cleaning out sinks. If you have a flare-up or find you’re struggling with your mental health, basic tidying can become a hassle. It’s during these occasions you can elicit help from other household members. If there’s a close relative or friend that you trust, reach out to them for assistance. Building this habit and getting the support you need to maintain a tidy home can improve your mood and make flare-ups a little bit easier to manage.
Plan & Prep Meals In Advance
Planning meals ahead of time can make grocery shopping a breeze. Which means you won’t be tempted to spend money unnecessarily. And, taking the time to prep meals means you spend less time cooking. It also means you don’t have to worry about making decisions regarding what to eat. This is super beneficial when you’re struggling with fatigue or having a bad flare-up. Furthermore, you’ll make less mess in the kitchen and won’t have to clean as often.
Create A Capsule Wardrobe
Having many clothes can be overwhelming—especially if there’s a lot of colors or patterns. And it makes deciding what to wear a nightmare. And can increase the amount of time you spend getting ready. However, paring down your wardrobe and curating key pieces that you can easily create multiple outfits is more manageable. Again sticking to a neutral color scheme extends the versatility of your wardrobe. That doesn’t mean you can’t add pops of color here and there and play around with different textures and patterns. The point is to simplify your wardrobe, so you don’t have to waste time making decisions on what to wear when you’re struggling just to make it through the day.
Only Buy What You Need When You Need It
Impulse shopping feels delicious at the moment. But the feeling of regret comes when you’re stuck with items that you don’t use and clutter your space. A way to overcome this habit is to create a budget and stick to it. Have a plan for where your money goes and how you’re going to spend it. This helps you to become more aware of your spending habits. And it encourages you to become more intentional about the items you purchase. Which decreases the amount of clutter in your home while increasing the amount of money in your bank account. Win, win.
Guard Your Heart, Mind & Time
Minimalism isn’t only about things. It’s also about the mental and emotional clutter we allow to weigh us down. Taking the time to participate in some honest self-reflection can help you discover opportunities for self-growth. Identify what or who is influencing you and how it’s impacting your thought life and behavior. Are you spending a lot of time comparing yourself to others? What type of people are you surrounding yourself with, and how are they affecting you? These are just a few examples of possible self-reflection questions.
You may find it beneficial to take a break from certain people, social media, or entertainment. And, that’s ok. Taking the time to prioritize your mental health and implementing hobbies, people, and activities that make you feel good is essential for your health.
Minimize Harmful Ingredients
Processed foods and personal care items provide a level of convenience for daily life. However, being mindful of how these ingredients impact health and well-being is necessary—especially when managing an invisible illness. Safeguarding your health by reducing unnecessary inflammation and hormonal imbalance can help reduce chronic pain. That’s why learning more about endocrine-disrupting ingredients and how they affect the body is a must. This is the only way you can determine what ingredients you’re comfortable using versus what you’re not.
Generally speaking, cutting back on processed foods and reducing personal care products and cosmetics containing ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and BPA are good places to start. You can learn more about ingredients and their impact on health at the Environmental Working Group’s website.
Find What Works For You
Now, these habits were beneficial for me, but maybe they’re not right for you. The good news is you get to experiment with different minimalist habits and techniques. That way, you get to find what works best for your lifestyle and personality. And create sustainable changes for a lifetime.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator. You can find me on YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!
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