I promised this would be a holistic journey on our 40 days of Simplifying & Minimalism 🙂
While it is helpful to clean and downsize our homes, tending to our emotional well-being makes a huge difference in how effective our efforts remain for the long haul. Often when our external world becomes messy, we feel stress or are struggling with difficult or repressed & trauma emotions. It is not uncommon for people to complete a downsize and go out and buy gobs of new things again. For some people, this is due to the scarcity mentality we discussed a couple days ago. Yet, I believe, for most of us, this is rooted in our mental and emotional well-being. When our inner and outer worlds are at odds with one another, life can feel impossible to manage and stressful 24/7.
A Tidy Environment Helps Us Process
When I was in college, I had a mentor who suggested anytime I felt excess stress I clean and organize my space before moving on to my other tasks. This was powerful & very effective for me and has stuck with me for the last 10+ years. I also notice when I am in an emotional or stressful time, my emotional well-being and ability to manage stress is better when my home is tidy.
A significant amount of people, especially women, have shopping habits that arise when under stress or in a difficult emotional period. Women who have experienced trauma are also likely to use shopping as a coping mechanism. “Retail therapy” is a phrase almost every American woman could define. Using shopping as a stress relief, way to avoid hard feelings, or to ignore what’s happening with our emotions is a toxic pattern. The temporary high from buying the item wanes quickly and we end up needing more “retail therapy” later on.
When we began our intentional downsizing I had to drop“retail therapy.” I found the words of my old mentor coming back to my mind. I wanted a tidy inner and outer world. While I was pregnant with my son, I realized my inner world was in chaos. I had trauma and emotions that needed addressed. I didn’t want to mask them anymore. I went to counseling for several months, and have acquired stress management abilities. I have been downsizing and working toward minimalism for 6 years now. Personally, I find the more I reduce, organize and bring hygge to my outer world, the more it reflects in my emotions & inner world.
Addressing Our Emotions Is the ONLY Way Our Efforts Will Stick
I’m not saying everyone uses “retail therapy” or has too much stuff because of it. I do think, it is a significant concern in our culture. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, and “stuff will make you happy” messages we see play a role on our subconscious and well-being. Until these are addressed, we’re not going to make full progress in other areas of our lives. As a culture, we don’t place value on stress management, emotions, or managing trauma. The numbers of soldiers living with PTSD is our #1 warning sign we’re failing at addressing emotions.
Stress & Emotional Concerns Are Causing Health Issues
Our world is more stressful, demanding and draining than ever before. Depending on the practitioner you ask, 50-80% of modern diseases are caused by stress. Stress is a proven root cause (among others) for autoimmune disease, heart disease, insomnia and many other diseases.
We Need Nourishment to Manage Stress
Did you know most American’s suffer malnutrition? I talk a lot about food on this blog, food is medicine, food is life, food is the foundation of our being and the last thing most of us think about. Poor diet and nutrition play a part in how we handle stress and emotions. Many people find anxiety and depression reduce with dietary change. I’m a huge proponent of therapy and counseling when available. Eliminating the Standard American Diet can bring about changes within a couple days for mental & emotional health as well.
Forgiving people is hard. Forgiving ourselves can be even more difficult. We are our own worst enemy. Harboring hurt, grudges, malice, etc brings about significant discord in our lives. I’ll say it again, forgiveness is HARD. I have had a couple hurts in my life that felt impossible to forgive.
I think mantras have become popular because there is a profound connection between saying something & the effect it has, even if we don’t mean it. Now I’m not talking about the little kid who gets in trouble and says “I’m sorry” even though they don’t mean it. Please don’t tell another person you forgive them unless you forgive them in your heart. What I’m talking about it as you process through and come to terms with your hurt. “I want to forgive this person” or “I forgive this person” until you come to a true place of forgiveness in your heart. This may take years, it may be a rough, rocky, crappy road. It is something that needs to be done if we want our inner and outer worlds to mesh. The Bible tells us to forgive 70 times 7 times… I have expressed forgiveness out loud as a mantra even when I didn’t yet feel it in my heart. The emotional burden lifted by saying it is huge.
Tips For Cleansing Your Inner World
Therapy– I realize this is a significant expense. For trauma and emotional issues… make it happen. No matter what. Go into debt if you need to (and I don’t like debt one bit!). You owe it to yourself, your family and the world to get well. And don’t settle for someone unless you mesh. Most therapists do a complimentary consultation. Find someone you like and can confide in.
Prayer or Meditation– I think this is the #2 most important thing. You can incorporate many of the below tips in to this practice. It’s important for me tosay, one of my biggest pet peeves is when Christians say you need to pray more to “fix” whatever is going on. No, no you don’t. It’s ok to need extra help and it’s ok to use resources. Prayer/ meditation help us process our inner worlds, get in touch with our emotions & express them and connect us to something outside ourselves.
Journaling– What a profound impact journaling has on my life. Write about anything you feel like. It doesn’t matter if it’s deep and processing emotions or writing about how you think journaling is dumb. Find journal prompts online. Type it out or write in a notebook. Journaling is a great way to process emotions, especially if you can’t see a therapist.
Brain Dump– Some people might loop this with journaling. I keep it separate. This is a rapid fire, stream of consciousness writing. It’s most effective right before bed as the last thing you do or before evening prayers. It is what it sounds like, dumping everything from your brain on to paper. Not giving it any particular emotion or processing- just getting it out. A brain dump might come out as a to do list, shopping list or stream of consciousness. Some people set a 10-15 minute timer and write their thoughts until the timer goes off. I find it especially helpful in times of stress or intense emotional processing and healing.
Letter Writing– Yes, more writing. This ties in with forgiveness. You can use letter writing as part of your journaling or do a “brain dump” letter. This for of letter writing is writing a letter to someone that you never intend to give them. Write an angry, pissed off letter for all the ways they hurt you, yell, scream, say all the nasty things you’d like to get out but know would make the situation escalate or would be inappropriate. I often burn, destroy or tear up these letters when I’m done. Many of us have hurts from people it would be best we not see again or hurts from someone who has passed away. We need to forgive them and get it out, letter writing helps. This is also a great way to address ourselves. Letter writing to ourselves at a younger age or ourselves from the person we *want* to is healing. You may choose to keep the letters you write or get rid of them.
Friends– Reach out to someone who you trust. This is hard and scary sometimes to open up to people. Take the first step you won’t regret it. Pour our your heart, ask for help with chores, childcare, cooking… whatever you need. Find a tribe and let them come alongside you.
Nature– We spend more time indoors than ever before. Connecting with nature helps us process our feelings in a way that no one seems to be able to explain. Get outside, in the sunshine for at least 15 minutes a day.
Yoga– I’m love yoga. Especially when I’m in a stressful or emotional healing phase. My favorite videos are Yoga with Adrienne.
Breathing– Most of us don’t breathe deep enough. Breathing can help with anxiety and other emotions. You can find lots of breathing work online. Start with taking the deepest breath in through your nose and out through your mouth a few times a day.
Flower Essences– They’re powerful remedies which work specifically on emotion and spirit. I’m fascinated by them and can’t wait to get to that section of my herbalism course. I also love that they are used in herbalism and homeopathy. Check out my post all about flower essences!
Diet– Like I said above, people have seen huge leaps in their mental & emotional well-being with diet changes. Eliminating sugar, processed grains, excess caffeine, and pasteurized dairy (especially low-fat dairy) is hard and worth it in the long-run.
Other Healing Methods– Homeopathy, specific herbs, chiropractic care, essential oils and EFT (aka tapping) are all instruments of emotional healing, trauma processing and stress management. These are modalities that generally need a trained professional or lots of research. I suggest taking the time and putting forth the money to take advantage of some of these methods. Feel free to reach out for more information on things that have been helpful for me.
Sleep– Getting at least of 8 hours of sleep a night is always important. It’s especially important when we’re dealing with emotional concerns and stress.
I hope some of these prove to be helpful for you. When I set out to build this blog, my desire and deepest prayer was it would be a place where people could healing and health for body, mind & soul. I hope you’ll reach out if you would like someone to talk to or have any questions/ feedback. Take the time and effort for your emotional well-being, you’ll never regret it.