Minimalism is all the rage these days. Of all the posts I’ve seen promoting minimalism, I’ve only seen one that said: “it may not be for you.”
You see, I’m a pessimist when I’m not being an idealist, so I often read those posts and all of their promises about how minimalism will fix all of your anxieties, all of your morning problems, all of your life crises. I’m sure it’s good and all, but there’s no way in hell that throwing out half of my wardrobe and getting rid of most of my weird stuff I’ve collected will make me stop being anxious.
But, there’s a very good reason why this home-care-meets-self-care movement is so popular and important: the importance of investing in our homes has been lost over the years, and our home space contributes heavily to our mental space. What I mean by that is, when you’ve got a cluttered home, you most likely have a cluttered head, and when you’ve got a bleak or dismal home, you most likely have a bleak or dismal head. The important thing to remember before investing in minimalism alone is that everyone has a different mental space.
Here are my suggestions for what to do with your home based on how you are feeling about your mental state.
These suggestions are based on what I have found to work for me in the past (that’s right, not only will this change from person to person, but also from one time in your life to another). These mental states are often interconnected, so you may even find several that relate to you at the same time!
This is when you absolutely need to clear some things out and pick some stuff up. Keeping your rooms organized can help you to feel an ounce of control in a crazy life. Set aside 30 minutes each day to just pick items up and put them in their place. When things get scattered everywhere and in every room, it can easily overwhelm your brain even more than it already is.
Pick a place to begin. The bedroom is always a good starting point because it’s also where you start your day. Even if certain items don’t have a place as of right now simply putting them in a row with other items can make things feel intentional. Another thing you should look into is mindfulness meditation (or prayer, or quiet time … whatever you want to call it). Create a space in your home that’s just for you to be quiet for a few minutes. Before you say that you’ll be found by your munchkins or spouse, arrange a time where you get just 10 minutes to yourself. It isn’t that long, no one will miss you for 10 minutes. Take it for yourself.
Often we are called or pushed into things that don’t quite sit well with our personalities or values. When this happens, it’s easy to feel like that shiny part of us that we call our personality is getting buried, or worse, forgotten. You need to feel like you. Without authenticity then what’s the point of having goals, or ideas, or anything? Too often we say things like “I am my [insert thing here that you are not].” If you feel like you’ve lost your identity, then surround yourself with things that only you could like. The more ashamed you are of liking that weird thing at the thrift store, the more I urge you to get it.
Your inner self is crying out for an escape – give it some objects to rejoice in. It could be collecting figurines, or exotic plants, movie posters, or antique store portraits. Find something that brings you satisfaction in a way that no cookie-cutter, Target-bought, overpriced throw pillow could. When you’ve accumulated a number of things that are wholly “you” it will no longer seem like you just have a strange, out of place object hanging on your wall. It will instead feel like you’ve got a unique home that people will remember and enjoy walking through.
Have you ever walked in and not looked at a single thing in your home, gone straight to the couch and turned on the TV? Do you feel like everything is happening around you and you’re just sort of standing still? Do you find it difficult to even perform the mundane tasks like cooking a meal, or cleaning the dishes? It’s easy to get caught in this loop of feeling no ownership of what goes on around you, then feeling lazy and like everything is futile. This just took a dark turn. But this is something so many people deal with and don’t know how to break the cycle!
First of all, get out of your house. Go spend a couple evenings reading at a coffee shop. Catch some events like art shows, county fairs, downtown festivals, open mic nights. Do something you can enjoy and will find entertaining. If you sit around at home all the time you will never enjoy your space.
Second, make something with your hands for your home. It doesn’t have to be pretty or well made. Who cares? Just choose a craft on Pinterest. Then grab the supplies (double points if you can find a craft for which you already have the supplies), and get making! Nothing breaks down the barrier between you and your home like creating something for it. Here are some ideas: make a wreath (find a super simple one here), learn to knit, gather seasonal plants and arrange them like a pro, melt some old candles down to create new ones (a fun twist on this idea can be found here) go take pictures of somewhere special and get them printed for your walls.
If you constantly find yourself asking why it’s so loud everywhere you go, then you may have sensory-overload at home. This can come on in several different ways, so perhaps for you, it isn’t noise, but smell. Noisy fridges, droning TVs, screaming children, smelly laundry, constant bright lights, a trash can you hold your nose to open. All of these contribute to us feeling like we just can’t.
Work to reduce the amount of time electronics are in use, create a schedule for yourself to get stinky chores done, and blackout your bedroom windows if you don’t have total darkness at night or if you don’t wake up with the sun. You could also invest in dimmers for overhead lights, or just switch to lamps when the sun goes down. But you also should consider doing a heavy clean of your place one weekend. And then spend Monday and Tuesday evenings swaddled in your most comforting blanket reading. With no sounds, only enough light to read by, and no scents from candles, essential oils, wax warmers, or incense. Just take an evening off from being bombarded and escape. Do the cleaning first, though, because no one can just relax with the dish pile tapping them on the shoulder.
Your home should 1000% be your personal space.
Somewhere you (and your family if you have one) can feel welcomed and allowed to be themselves. It sure would be wonderful, and I’m sure we all dream of having one of those homes or even just a corner of our home decorated by Martha Stewart, or Southern Living. The fact of the matter is that people get paid thousands of dollars to be amazing at decorating. You aren’t getting paid anything but comfort for your decor skills. Don’t pour your money into store-bought decor, don’t pour your efforts into living a lifestyle that isn’t “you”. Make your home your own and you will actually feel like you’re at home.