I will start by saying I am by no means a minimalist. In fact I have been known to accumulate (hoard ?) material things. At one point I had more than 60 pairs of shoes and I have really struggled to not have a slightly overflowing / messy / impossible to close closet.
For years I was also very happy living in my own mess (to my parents’ great regret) and was reluctant to throw old memorabilia (like concert tickets and generic happy birthday cards).
A lucky introduction to decluttering
When I got Lyme I didn’t instantly feel the need to declutter and get rid of material possessions but in August I moved to Scotland, driving up from France in a very small car. This obviously meant I could only take a very finite amount of things with me and when I moved in my new flat I found myself enjoying living in a space that was piles and mess free.
That is also when I started reading about minimalism and the benefits of decluttering, the main ones for me being that it was said to help with concentration, sleep and mood. I never had issues with any of these before Lyme but as I started becoming more conscious about what affected my physical health (out of necessity), I also decided to find ways to improve my mental health.
I now really enjoy living in a place where I only keep things that either make me happy (looking at you cacti) or that I need. I finally started to see the point of making my bed in the morning and keeping my clothes off the floor.
A couple of things I have enjoyed
The luxury of having a living space separated from my sleeping space has been a blessing. My bedroom only has my bed, bedside tables, a set of drawers (where I put clothes and makeup) and a huge wardrobe with a full size mirror. I have definitely seen the benefits of keeping my bedroom a clutter free place in my mood and sleep but also even self esteem (I feel great about myself when I walk into my tidied bedroom at night). I don’t want to have anything on the walls and am very happy to not own the dreaded chair where clothes just get piled up. It is the first time in my life that I have actually come up with a sustainable system that really works for me.
The 4 minutes rule (if something has to be done and will take 4 minutes or less, do it now) is something I try to incorporate in my life. It may sound very self-helpy and simple but it has made such a difference. I now make my bed every morning (even if I’m late) and do my dishes every evening (even if I’m exhausted) to avoid visual clutter and I swear it has changed my life. I guess that doesn’t really qualify as minimalism but for me it comes from a similar place (getting rid of mental pollution).
Actually getting rid of things I don’t use anymore. As I have said before I used to be really bad at getting rid of things. When I had clothes that had stains I couldn’t remove or ginormous unfixable holes I’d just keep them to “wear around the house” (and never did). To give you a vague idea I went back to my parents over the holidays and I filled 5 huge ikea bags of clothes to donate and 4 to bin. I still have a lot of clothes, because I really enjoy them, but I can now proudly say I don’t own anything I don’t wear on a bi-monthly basis.
Not having THE drawer (you know the one, filled up with things “you could use one day”). I now get read of instruction manuals (they are all online, I swear), old magazines I’ll never read again, cables for things I don’t own anymore, loose buttons and other random objects. I even have empty drawers in my flat (that I intend to keep that way).
Having less tableware. I own four plates, two large mugs (and two smaller ones that I only use when I have guests), a finite amount of tupperwares (all of them having a lid) and 4 of each item of cutlery. I don’t need more so I don’t have more and I couldn’t explain why but it is such a pleasant feeling.
As I have previously said I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist. I don’t see the way I incorporate it into my life as a lifestyle but rather as little things that help me with mental clarity. I do not strive to get rid of most of my belongings, I still enjoy having things. I simply make sure I actually benefit from owning these things.