As I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent to me that I crave simplification in my life. In a world where fashion is fast, social networks are impossibly huge, and you can’t really be sure what toxins await in anything you buy, the simpler ways our grandparents lived seem more and more like home.
I’ve been working toward slowing life down for some months now, in very small ways here and there. I’m beginning to swap our household cleaning products for more natural versions, though I have a long way to go. I’m constantly striving toward cooking at home with more whole food ingredients. I often go through episodes of ridding our house of unnecessary “stuff” (much to my husband’s delight, I’m sure). I’d like to practice purchasing things qualitatively instead of quantitatively.
My reasons for slowing things down in my household are manifold, and I will explain them more later in this post. Mostly, I believe our rapidly-paced lifestyles of instant gratification, easy and cheap fake food choices, and materialism are unhealthy for us and could be a major contributor to some of the common ailments that plague our modern population.
I’ve recently observed some friends I follow on social media participate in slow-living challenges, including a no-spend month and a month of minimalizing, and I thought having my own month-long challenge would help me jumpstart more simplified habits in my home. So, and without further ado, I present to you… Simply September!
For the month of September, I will be challenging myself in 3 areas that I’m constantly striving to simplify: my spending habits, materialism in my home, and my eating/cooking habits.
No-Spend September: I’m not going to sugar coat it: I’m definitely a “treat yoself” type of person. I think this stems from coming from a background where my family didn’t have a ton of expendable income. Things like name-brand clothing, Frappuccino’s, and sit-down restaurants still feel like luxury to me. Not to mention the addictive affect spending has on our brain. But the cost of even small luxuries can add up, and I’ve got to admit that I’ve let my spending get a little out of control the past several months, and it’s been stressing me out!
In an effort to calm my consumerism, I’m making a no-spend effort this month. I will be attempting to only spend money on obligatory purchases: gas, food, diapers, household essentials. In addition, I will be trying to be conscientious about how much I spend on even these items. Do I really need the name brand toilet paper? Is it cheaper in the long run to buy bulk? I’m hoping to cut my credit card bill and, as a result, my stress level at then end of the month with some smarter shopping… or lack thereof!
The Purge: Research tells us that things do not equal happiness. In fact, multiple examinations of studies (ex. here and here) have shown that people now have more possessions than ever before in history, but greater rates of depression, anxiety, and general unhappiness. Yet consumer culture and marketing drives us to fill our homes with all of the things we want…at the moment.
But how long does that moment last? And how long after it ends to you hold onto those things “just in case”?
Personally, having too much stuff hanging around my house crowds my mental space and increases my anxiety, so I’ve always prided myself on not getting overly attached to things. I even moved out of college my senior year with all of my possessions in just two suitcases! That being said, it’s easy to fill a house full of space in the blink of an eye, and my house has definitely been feeling a little cluttered lately. This goal is focused on ridding my house of an item per day, either thrown out, donated, or sold. I’m hoping to clear out some unnecessary items to make space for more joy!
You Are What You Eat: If I could, I would eat happiness, peace, joy, and presence. But you know what…I actually believe you can eat these things. Well, what I mean is, you can eat food that feeds your physiological health in a way that also feeds your spiritual and mental health.
Many years ago, I was a vegan. I read books and books and websites and blogs about what foods did what to our bodies. I read that, while you could still be a vegan by eating Oreos and Poptarts (yes, both vegan!), part of the culture was to feed your body well. Feeding your body with well-rounded foods straight from the source promotes physiological and hormonal health…resulting in a happier, healthier you! And you guys…I felt good. Probably the most healthy and balanced I ever have in my life!
I no longer subscribe to veganism and have since come across so many different camps that make equally as convincing claims about health, but from what I’ve found the vote is unanimously in favor of whole, unprocessed foods and cooking from scratch at home as often as possible.
Well, if you knew my husband, you’d know he is a fast-food dollar menu connoisseur. Couple that with my aforementioned affinity for eating at restaurants and…well, you have a pretty good recipe for A LOT of unhealthy eating.
I know I’ve not completely fallen off the whole foods wagon, but for my personal health, I know my diet needs some tweaking. I also want to feed my child as wholesomely as possible and teach her a love of healthy food that I didn’t know until I was older. For this part of our challenge, I am striving to cook from home more often than not, using healthy, whole-foods based recipes. I’d also like to work on finding a meal-planning system that works for us, as we often make it to Sunday after a busy weekend too exhausted to grocery shop for the week. Finally, I’d really like to compare the cost of eating it vs. eating out for my family.
So there you have it, folks! There are definitely many other areas of my life I’d like to slow down or simplify, but I’m thinking 3 goals is a manageable goal. We’ll be focusing on spending less, owning less, dining out less…and hopefully enjoying life more! Check back in here at the end of the month to see how it went!
What could you work on slowing down or simplifying in your life?