A long time ago, I came across a few minimalist blog posts stating simple rules that guide their lifestyle of simplicity.
The idea of a list of simple rules is seductive. It’s applicable across a lot of different categories. We crave simple systems because they allow us to scrutinize what affects us and how.
From there, the simple list of rules allows us to decide the best practices for our particular situation.
Each list of simple rules for (insert topic) will vary by person. The list might change as time passes and we realize what still works for us or things that work better. However, better support systems are enabled by these practices.
As a person who lives with high-functioning depression and anxiety, I’ve used this concept as a means to build support and realize what works for me. It’s changed through time and has been refined both through trial and discussions with close friends.
1. Measure energy levels before saying yes.
This is a two-part process. For one, knowing if we are introverts (and need to recharge alone) or extroverts sets the groundwork.
Everything in life demands energy. Keeping track of where ours is going is crucial.
There are necessary tasks in each week. Everything that is not considered crucial is put through the “does this drain me or fill me” filter. Some weeks we know that we have enough energy in the bank or will be refilled by an activity. Other times, we know that we’ll be running on fumes and extra interactions will just drain more out of the tank.
Keeping necessities first and then deciding what else fits into the energy level for the week helps me to reach healthy decisions.
2. Either something is 100 percent hell yeah or a simple no.
What gets us closer to our main goals? If given a week of complete freedom, what would we pursue?
Knowing the answer to both of these questions shows us what our “hell yeahs” are. It also gives us an idea of what the immediate “nos” are.
Life is too short to spend doing the things in the “no” column. If it’s not on the list of our passions or getting us closer to our ideal goals, why waste time doing it?
3. Less clutter—physically and mentally.
There’s a strong connection between simplicity and peace. Being in a cluttered environment often stresses us out and makes us feel overstimulated and drained. This is true both mentally and physically. The age-old adage is that the condition of our living spaces often reflects the condition of our minds.
Over the past year, I’ve given away over a thousand items, and I’m not completely done yet. I know that for me personally, my space is my recharging ground. I need it to be organized if I’m going to focus and get what I need out of the times I need to recharge.
Mentally, there are a variety of ways to deal with mental clutter. One strategy is to do a brain dump of everything that’s taking up mental and emotional energy.
Choose just one thing to deal with to start. Giving ourselves time to work through each thing before moving on is key. On a daily basis, practices such as mindfulness and meditation help with dealing with mental clutter.
Mindfulness keeps us present and meditation helps us to relax and process, changing our view of our thoughts. They are passersby that can be ignored if not helpful.
4. I check in with myself on a regular basis.
Checking in with ourselves can be as simple as just analyzing what is going on in life right now. Take the time to iron it out as it comes up.
Pay attention to what lights us up or what makes us feel drained. Allow for more or less as appropriate.
Process the day-to-day stuff without overthinking. Check in with goals and see where we are in the process.
Forgiving ourselves if we need to and encouraging ourselves is a huge part of this checking in process. Allowing ourselves to learn from what we experience and working through what we perceive as failure. (Quick reminder, even failure is just life showing us a way that doesn’t work, and reminding us to change up our approach to dealing with and overcoming that current matter).
These are the five questions I always ask during this check-in process:
- Where am I with my goals and what do I want to change about my current approaches?
- What do I need to forgive myself or others for?
- What is bringing me the most joy? What am I most grateful for? How do I cultivate more of that?
- What have I been thinking lately? How do I inject more positivity into the flow?
- Where am I with my goals? What can I edit, delete, or revamp? Am I giving up too soon on something that I really want?
5. I seek out nurturing relationships and laugh whenever possible.
This is usually so key. I’ve spent years of my life hiding behind a mask and running after people who never saw me to begin with. To be honest, I only have a few good friends, but they are high quality. Life is too short to be running around after people who don’t return the favor.
Evaluating who is worth the effort is important. Also, the relationship that we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we will have. Learning to see our real value, just as we are, though hard sometimes, is key.
When we learn our own value, we start to treat ourselves better, which in turn shows others how to treat us. Accepting ourselves 100 percent often enables us to go past superficial relationships and eliminate them. Remember that if people can’t accept what’s past the mask, their place in our lives is questionable. I’m not advocating cutting off every single relationship, but just as energy must be guarded, the time we give to others should be guarded.
Laughter is good medicine. Whether that’s comedy in its traditional sense or just knowing who makes you laugh. Incorporating laughter is like incorporating medicine—it’s needed as a coping mechanism.
These are the rules that I personally follow for better mental health. These might be different from someone else’s rules. However, the key is finding time to figure out what works for you individually. What supports us will be different from person to person. However, if we are going to have great mental health, it’s a starting point.
Find what works for you and incorporate it accordingly.