Reduce Stress by Embracing Mindful Minimalism

In this post I provide a list of mindfulness and minimalism practices I use to keep my sanity when I’m stressed.

Photo by Sohel Patel from Pexels

I hate that feeling when your mind seems to be racing out of control.  When you’re so hyped up, your whole body feels like it’s trembling.  It’s like you’ve ingested too much caffeine…you feel like life and your brain is careening out of control and you just can’t seem to relax.  The more you try to focus on something the more it seems to slip through your mental fingers.

Yet you notice, perplexedly, when you take a breath and are able to relax, that thoughts come easier.  You can remember and focus when, just a few hours ago, you couldn’t hang onto a thought for more than a few seconds…read on for tips on how to lessen stress using Mindful Minimalism.

Signs Your Body is Stressed

Tight stomach muscles…taught shoulders…you feel the dull ache of a tension headache at the back of your neck…then your eyelid or cheek starts to twitch…your lower back and shoulder blades are tense…there’s the occasional, weird twinge in your chest or abdomen…sometimes a lightheadedness kicks in, complete with difficulty focusing and a dazed sense of, what could almost be described as, disorientation…you may have trouble sleeping, or experience sleep disturbances or strange dreams…

These are all signs that our body is telling us, “YOU ARE STRESSED AND NEED A BREAK!”  You know the stress is building when you notice these signs.  My understanding is some of the stranger symptoms, such as the lightheadedness and disorientation, occur because we have a tendency to unconsciously hold our breath– or at least breathe shallowly–when we are tense and stressed.  This leads to lower oxygen levels and the disconnected, lightheaded feeling (it doesn’t help that I have chronic sinus and inner-ear problems that mess with my equilibrium 😋).

How to Use Mindfulness and Minimalism Practices to Reduce Stress

I’ve learned to take heed when these symptoms show themselves.  At the first sign of them, I immediately try to kick my mindfulness, simplicity and minimalism practices into high gear.  I focus on meditation, physical exercise and taking slow, deep breaths.  I also try to focus on only one task at a time while keeping the distractions as minimal as possible.

In the age of our always-on, always-connected lives, many people are starting to feel that our brains are being overwhelmed, present company included. Below are some of the procedures I employ when I notice these symptoms and realize I need to take a little “me time”:

Digital Minimalism:

This may seem odd for a blogger, and full disclosure, I do use multiple social media platforms for the blog.  However, I try to focus on them ONLY for the blog.  I do use them to stay up-to-date on certain subjects, mostly travel-related, and to keep in touch with long-distance family and friends.  I also peruse the occasional political site to keep up with the news as well.  But I consider it a good sign when the platform is “nudging” me that I haven’t been posting much.

Prioritize Minimalism in All Areas of Your Life:
            • I try to minimize the distractions caused by music and television (unless I’m focusing on them as a means of relaxation).
            • I try to focus on other relaxation practices such as coloring or writing in a journal.
            • I’m big on simplicity.  I don’t wear much jewelry, and what I do wear tends to be small.  I find one of my biggest irritations in the morning is how much time I waste “getting ready” (and the fact that Mr. Trekker can do it in half the time it takes me 😋).  So, to counteract that, I keep that process as simple as possible.  I don’t mess with my hair much, most days I don’t even dry it.  I wear very little makeup, I don’t even own a bottle of hairspray anymore. 😋
            • I’ve never been a very showy person (says the woman with a nose ring and tattoo, but hey, they’re both small!   I suppose “showy” is in the eye of the beholder. 🙃)  My tattoo is simple, consisting of only one color and a little shading. Both can be hidden if I choose.  I prefer these methods of beautification because they are simple and constant.  They’re there but are blessedly low maintenance.  Often times I completely forget about them.  They allow me to show off my own personal flair but in a subtle and simple way.

(To be clear, this isn’t intended as any sort of judgment on people who do prioritize beautification more.  These methods are just part of the way I keep life simple.  I was also always way too lazy to take the time to learn how to do much regarding my hair or makeup anyway. 😛)

Make Lists (LOTS of Lists!):

I’ve always been a fan of list-making, but I find during times of higher stress it’s even more helpful.  It relieves stress because, when you write things down that you need to keep track of, you don’t have to “stress” 😉 about remembering them anymore.  This also helps with maintaining focus as you have fewer thoughts bouncing around in your head.  I always carry a pen and a small notebook with me so, at a moment’s notice, I can write things down I don’t want to forget.  You can also use the “notes” or “reminder” function on your phone, but I’m partial to the “old school” method.

Stress Makes Everyday Life Harder

High levels of everyday, mental stress make it more difficult to handle real problems when they actually occur.  As an example, a “low-tire” light on a car, while not usually more than a nuisance, can feel like an insurmountable obstacle that you don’t feel like you can handle when your mental energy supply is already depleted.

One of my biggest struggles is feeling like IhavetorushandgetmytodolistdoneasfastasIpossiblycan!!!  (That’s difficult to read, right?  Yeah, that’s just a glimmer into the everyday workings of my foul little mind. 🙃)  Inevitably I find I allow myself to get stressed about all the things I need to do throughout the day or week.  Sometimes they are legitimately urgent (in which case they go to the top of the Mental Energy Priority Pile).  But more often than not, they’re just everyday tasks that need to be completed.  Things like errands, groceries, chores around the house and various work tasks. These issues are by no means life and death, they’re just part of normal living.  Inevitably I find I ALWAYS manage to complete them (quite often, faster and more easily than I thought I would).  And if they take a little extra time to finish, guess what, the world somehow still continues on.  The sun still rises each morning and sets each night, the birds still sing in the trees…

The trouble with all that stress I bring on myself is that when I complete the task and realize all is well…I still have all that negative energy built up…and then I start stressing about how to relieve THAT! 😛🙄

To Conclude:

Ultimately, it’s not healthy for us to maintain all the strain that we hold on a daily basis.  The rates of anxiety and stress-related illnesses keep increasing in modern society.  The saddest part of this is, most of our lives aren’t even that difficult.  We are literally making ourselves sick with illnesses that harbor potentially lethal consequences…over “First World Problems”.  We all really need to CHILL OUT! 😉  More and more I’m finding that implementing mindful, minimalism practices helps with controlling my anxiety and stress-related symptoms.  I hope this list helps you (and I) work toward a more serene life.

How do you implement Mindfulness and Minimalism practices to help reduce everyday stress?  Let me know in the comments!

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Do you find that stress affects your everyday life? Read on for ways to use Mindfulness and Minimalism practices to help reduce this strain.

 

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