We may not like to admit when we become stress, believing it to be a sign of weakness but stress is rife in our lives. Most people have struggled with stress in some form or another.
The Mental Health Foundation commissioned a survey about stress in the UK and found that a whopping 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. You can see more of the results of this survey here. It makes for interesting reading and if you are currently struggling with stress it will hopefully help you to see that you aren't alone.
Of course there are many causes of stress, each one of us who experiences stress will have our individual stressors and triggers so it makes sense that there will be many different methods to try to ease this stress. One of these methods is to simplify aspects of your life to help to calm and regain some control.
Some Ideas on How To Approach Simplifying
The first thing to understand is that this is an ongoing process rather than a grand gesture. Simplifying works best if you approach it in tiny steps. This will also stop you from getting overwhelmed (and getting more stressed!)
To begin, choose one aspect of your life to focus on. A common one is the wardrobe but you will know what area you are most drawn to. Try to pick something that you will enjoy sorting rather than something you can't face. If you have a shed or a garage filled with old junk, this may feel like too much to start with. Think smaller, much smaller. What about that drawer in your kitchen that is filled with dead batteries and junk mail? Once you've tackled a small job you may feel ready to look at the kitchen cupboards or that box that never got unpacked from your last house move?
I'm going to focus on simplifying your wardrobe here because this is where I started and I think this is one of the most popular places to start for a lot of people. Think back to when you last had a wardrobe clear out - did it feel cathartic?
Another reason to start with your wardrobe is that there tends to be a lot of emotions hidden away in there. It is very common to hold onto clothes that are never worn. This can be for all sorts of reasons including:
holding onto clothes that are too small in the hope that you fit them one day
guilt - maybe you spent too much on something and now feel you can't get rid of it even though you never wear it?
'fashion' reasons - you bought something that was in vogue last year, in didn't suit you but you felt you 'needed' it?
you never know when you might need it - if you've not worn something in 2 years you do not need it.
Does any of this ring true to you? One of my favourite decluttering resources is Be More With Less it speaks of the multiple reasons why we hold onto our things and gives practical advice on getting rid of what we don't really need.
Courtney Carver is the woman behind Be More With Less and she has also created the Project 333 challenge. This is a simple but (perhaps) controversial idea that you start with a serious wardrobe clear out and get rid of what you do not wear and do not love. Then, from what is left, you choose 33 items of clothing and accessories to wear for the next 3 months. You then clear away all remaining clothes, shoes, jewellery etc into a box and hide it away. You can read the specific rules here.
100 Day Dress Challenge
One of the things that I did during my simplifying journey was the 100 Day Dress Challenge.
This was an idea from a clothing company called Wool&. And yes, I suppose it is a marketing gimmick but it is a marketing gimmick with a really interesting and worthwhile idea behind it. Normalising wearing the same clothes!
When I was younger it was very common to go out on Friday afternoon to buy new clothes to wear that weekend. And then again the next week. And the next. Every weekend warranted a new outfit. These days I'm happy to see I have finally seen the error of living in this materialistic, wasteful lifestyle and was very drawn to the 100 day dress challenge.
The idea, in case you can't tell from the name of the challenge, is to wear the same dress for 100 days in a row. The first question I always got asked was 'Ew, doesn't it get really dirty?' No. You can wash the dress as often as you like, they are made of merino wool which tends to dry very quickly so if you are organised you can wash it in the evening and have it ready again for the next morning.
You can read about the challenge on the Wool& website. Here are some of the benefits that people have found from taking the challenge (taken from the Wool& site):
I really enjoyed doing the challenge and although I can see it's not for everyone I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in simplifying their life and is unsure where to start.