Minimalist habits are popular right now, especially in the invisible illness community. Mainly because they offer a simple way of living that decreases the stress and anxiety of daily life. Which is needed for those of us managing an invisible illness. Complications with chronic pain and mental health make it challenging to function while decreasing quality of life. Furthermore, medical intervention with medication can be challenging for many to access or prove ineffective. However, modifications such as following a minimalist lifestyle can increase life quality while improving mental health.
Minimalist Habits & Their Benefits
While I’m not a die-hard minimalist, I’ve experienced the perks of adding specific minimalist habits into my lifestyle. And let me tell you, these simple changes made an extraordinary impact on how I managed my endometriosis. Consequently, they also played a role in improving my mental health.
Chronic pain, painful periods, and mental illness can be formidable. There were many occasions when I felt out of control and disconnected from myself and the world around me. Simplifying my life and becoming more “minimalist” helped me regain the power and discipline I needed. For instance, I found my endo symptoms were easier to manage. The number of panic attacks I had decreased. Additionally, I also found it better to manage my mental health.
Decreased My Anxiety
Living in a cluttered, junky space made me feel sloppy and junky mentally and emotionally. Which made me more anxious—especially during flare-ups and high pain days. Being in extreme pain and having my home look disorganized increased my anxiety, making me feel worse. Housekeeping became easier as I could implement more minimalist habits into my lifestyle. I could stay organized and keep a tidy home without spending hours cleaning every day. Therefore, when I was struggling with a flare-up or in a tough place mentally, I took comfort in knowing that my house was taken care of.
Helped with Brain Fog
You know how severe brain fog can be if you have a chronic illness or mental disorder. Not being able to focus, concentrate, or complete a task felt like I was wading through quicksand. Yet, prioritizing specific minimalist habits helped me create systems and routines I could easily follow. This helped me focus and concentrate better, making brain fog much more manageable.
Improved Quality of Life
Flare-ups and depression suck. It is awful to feel trapped in a bottomless pit caused by unrelenting physical or mental pain. However, altering the environment around you can make a difference. While making these changes won’t cure your condition, take away chronic pain, or make mental health issues disappear. But they can make life more manageable. And, sometimes, that’s all you need to make it through a tough time.
7 Minimalist Habits for Invisible Illness Warriors
So, what habits have changed my life and helped make my endometriosis and bipolar disorder easier to manage?
Create A Calm Minimal Aesthetic
I’ve always been drawn to Scandinavian and Contemporary decor. This is primarily because of the neutral color scheme and the emphasis on a minimalist aesthetic. However, switching to a more minimal look for my home meant a lot of decluttering, paring down, and organizing.
First, I had to purge the items that no longer served me and commit to a minimal decorating style that didn’t induce too much clutter. Furthermore, by organizing the things I wanted to keep, I prevented them from creating a mess and overwhelming my home.
Additionally, I started transitioning to a more neutral color palette and focused on whites, blacks, and grays with the occasional pop of color. This makes my home feel more cohesive, stylish, and, dare I say, expensive. But, it also has a calming effect, which really helps my anxiety.
Tidy As You Go
This, by far, is the most difficult minimalist habit to develop but, for sure, the most beneficial. Making it a practice to tidy up as you go reduces the time you spend cleaning. Great examples of tidying as you go include cleaning up after you eat or cook, putting things away at the end of the day, wiping down countertops, and cleaning out sinks.
Basic tidying can become a hassle if you have a flare-up or find you’re struggling with your mental health. It’s during these occasions you can elicit help from other household members. If there’s a close relative or friend that you trust, reach out to them for assistance. Building this habit and getting the support you need to maintain a tidy home can improve your mood and make flare-ups easier to manage.
Plan & Prep Meals In Advance
Planning meals ahead of time can make grocery shopping a breeze. This means you won’t be tempted to spend money unnecessarily. And, taking the time to prep meals means you spend less time cooking. It also means you don’t have to worry about deciding what to eat. This is super beneficial when struggling with fatigue or having a bad flare-up. Furthermore, you’ll make less mess in the kitchen and won’t have to clean as often.
Create A Capsule Wardrobe
Having many clothes can be overwhelming—especially if there are a lot of colors or patterns. And it makes deciding what to wear a nightmare. And can increase the amount of time you spend getting ready. However, paring down your wardrobe and curating key pieces so you can easily create multiple outfits is more manageable.
Again sticking to a neutral color scheme extends the versatility of your wardrobe. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add pops of color here and there and play around with different textures and patterns. The point is to simplify your wardrobe so you don’t have to waste time deciding what to wear when you’re struggling just to make it through the day.
Only Buy What You Need When You Need It
Impulse shopping feels delicious at the moment. But the feeling of regret comes when you’re stuck with items you don’t use and clutter your space. A way to overcome this habit is to create a budget and stick to it. Have a plan for where your money goes and how you’ll spend it. This helps you to become more aware of your spending habits. And it encourages you to become more intentional about the items you purchase. This decreases clutter in your home while increasing the amount of money in your bank account. Win, win.
Guard Your Heart, Mind & Time
Minimalism isn’t only about things. It’s also about the mental and emotional clutter we allow to weigh us down. Taking the time to participate in honest self-reflection can help you discover opportunities for self-growth. Identify what or who is influencing you and how it’s impacting your thought life and behavior.
Are you spending a lot of time comparing yourself to others? What type of people are you surrounding yourself with, and how are they affecting you? These are just a few examples of possible self-reflection questions.
Taking a break from certain people, social media, or entertainment may be beneficial. And that’s ok. But, taking the time to prioritize your mental health and implementing hobbies, people, and activities that make you feel good is essential for your health.
Minimize Harmful Ingredients
Processed foods and personal care items provide convenience for daily life. However, becoming mindful of how these ingredients impact health and well-being is necessary—especially when managing an invisible illness. For example, safeguarding your health by reducing unnecessary inflammation and hormonal imbalance can help reduce chronic pain.
That’s why learning more about endocrine-disrupting ingredients and how they affect the body is necessary. This is the only way to determine what ingredients you’re comfortable using versus what you’re not.
Generally speaking, cutting back on processed foods and reducing personal care products and cosmetics containing ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and BPA are good places to start. You can learn more about ingredients and their impact on health at the Environmental Working Group’s website.
Find What Works For You
These habits were beneficial for me, but maybe they’re not suitable for you. The good news is you get to experiment with different minimalist habits and techniques. That way, you find what works best for your lifestyle and personality. And create sustainable changes for a lifetime.
References and Related Reading