April 2018 was a vastly different world we lived in. For me personally, I was rediscovering myself after just finishing my bachelor’s degree and just starting on my minimalism and mindset journey. Fast forward to April 2020 and we are encouraged to self-isolate due to the pandemic plaguing the world. Fortunately, I am able to self-isolate because I now work from home full time. My husband, however, continues to work in the public where they are doing their best to keep themselves and others safe.
Seeing that I’ve been staying at home since mid March I’ve been imagining what this experience would have been like 2 years ago before minimizing and setting boundaries. My brother would still be living with me and continuing to create an unhealthy living environment. In addition, I wouldn’t have had space for my at-home office due to the amount of stuff I owed. Most of all, I would have been depressed through all of it. I recognize that seems very forward, but 2 years ago I was depressed already. I had accomplished a dream to complete my schooling and I felt mentally cluttered and empty. I buried myself in the pursuit of accomplishment, placing my self worth in it. When I didn’t feel immediately better I looked for ways to change my inner self through decluttering my thoughts. I found this lovely blog post about 15 things to declutter that aren’t things. She discussed decluttering your physical environment which led me down the minimalism journey. I would like to think I would have taken the same steps 2 years ago had we been in self isolation, but I may have been more focused on surviving.
It’s difficult to imagine that time frame in this new world because I know how much I was hurting. I see how I put other’s before my own mental health and lived a life that was not in alignment with my values. But through this journey I have grown, I have made myself a priority, and I have created a mental and physical space that I love.
Minimalism was something I knew I needed in my life, but I had no idea the path it would take me down. I didn’t know that cleaning out your physical environment would allow you to not only declutter your thoughts but to clean out your mental environment too. The only thing I knew was that I was done holding onto items I no longer used, loved, or needed. When you start to let go of your physical items you have to ask yourself some hard questions. Like: why do I even own this? Am I keeping this out of obligation? and is this serving me? I realized on the journey to decluttering that you can ask the same thing about your thoughts, your mindsets, and even people in your lives. There is a link between your physical and mental environment. It’s been said that your outside world is a reflection of your mind. I found that to be true.
I didn’t realize when I started this journey that my physical environment was because of cluttered mind. I thought I just needed a quick fix for my thoughts and that would be it. But I gave decluttering a shot and discovered when I got rid of items I felt lighter. I creating an inner voice that expressed my desires. I went through my home multiple times in the last 2 years and have taken truck loads of stuff to be donated.
Minimalism has allowed me more time and freedom. The less items you own, the less you have to clean. A side effect of that is you have more time to sit with your thoughts. I realized I was using my home to distract me from my thoughts because they were painful, and loud, and unmanagable. Fortunately I found a podcasts that helped with that. I was able to work out a lot of my issues using the podcast’s technique. I started setting boundaries, small ones at first, but boundaries non the less. I no longer wanted to hangout with certain people, give my family money constantly, or allowing my home to become a storage unit.
Then last year things shifted once again. I finally placed a boundary on our home specifically with having my brother live with us. We asked him to move out, it took longer then we would have liked, but we were able to make it happen. In that time frame I realized that the podcast was no longer enough to manage my past. So I went to therapy and I worked through years of my life in a few short months. I got rid of the constant nightmares and learned how to talk to myself with a compassionate voice. I discovered a 5 day Reset program that helped me stop drinking alcohol to cope with my life. Through all of that I woke up from the life I struggled with and discovered that I no longer had to hide behind the walls I placed. The walls being removed helped me created a friendship with someone who I had struggled with in the past. I strengthened my marriage with our empty nest and got my home to be exactly how I want it.
After seeing success in other areas I decided the next step in making myself a priority was to invest in myself. I joined a group called The Clutch where we work on thought work and I finished a Body Bootcamp that focused on intuitive eating and loving your body as it is. This year I joined another group called Style Your Mind where we work on mindset and creating the life we want to live and I finished the Abundance Academy Unburdened course which focuses on decluttering your schedule. These courses and groups have given me tools that help me live the life I want to live.
The past 2 years have changed who I am completely. So when self isolation was required I was able to adjust quickly. Minimalism allowed me to create a home office and thought work helped me with the fears of the pandemic and the earthquakes we experience here in Utah. I can now sit with my thoughts in a space I love. When this anniversary came up I reflected on how this would have been different had I not started this journey. As uncertain as this time has been it has allowed me to see how minimalism has changed my life for the better. I’m still learning to navigate the uncertainty, but I am able to do it with an understanding that had I not gone on this journey I would not be thriving right now. I’m grateful that 2 years ago I started this journey in order to be mentally and physically in the best place for the self isolation.
I know that this has not been easy for everyone. People have lost loved ones, people are in unhealthy environments without access to the groups that helped them the most, some have lost their livelihood, the normal respites that people used are no longer available, school is closed down so people are navigating home schooling for the first time, others are having to work overtime while wear a mask and doing their best to not show the fear that is plaguing their every thought, and more people are going stir crazy then ever before.
I recognize that during times of uncertainty we each cope in our own way and I do not want to diminish or down play the difficult times are all in, but instead show a light of what is possible. The things that helped me may also help you. If you are interested in starting in tackling your cluttered mind check out this blog post about brain dumps. Please know that you are not alone in this struggle, we will get through this together and come out of this trial with new understanding. If you are in an unhealthy environment I would like to encourage you to reach out to someone who can help. I know how hard feeling scared in your own home is. Thank you for reading and let me know if you would like to chat.