How I’m Quieting the Voice in My Head With Minimalistic Living
ARCH 9, 2017 by OLIVIA NEELY, RDN, LD
Okay, I’m just going to be honest and tell you all that I get overwhelmed sometimes with everything I think I need to do.
I usually manage it pretty well, but lately I’ve had a little voice in my head that sounds something like this: “There is no way you’re going to accomplish what you need to today.” Does anyone else have a voice in their head that tells them this??
If you do, I encourage you to do something about it. Here’s how I’m taming this voice in my own mind.
I have always been an organized person and I would never say that my life is cluttered or disorganized. Quality over quantity has always been a motto of mine—choosing to spend more money on one higher-quality item over five lower-quality items for the same or even lower price has never been as issue for me. (For example, splurging for that Vitamix instead of replacing countless blenders that would inevitably break in a few months or years was an easy choice to make.)
This isn’t just because I appreciate quality things, but I’ve found if my life is full of cheap junk, my brain is cluttered. The more clutter, the louder that voice gets and the more it takes away from my daily pleasures and adds to my daily stressors! Not. Good.
If someone tells me I can’t do something, you better believe I’ll do everything I can do to prove them wrong. But when this voice is my own, a feeling of helplessness begins to creep in. It’s a vicious cycle that I want out of! So, what did I do?
A purge. An early spring cleanout. Minimized. Whatever you want to call it—I got rid of things I didn’t need or weren’t serving me anymore. No area was safe: I tackled my closet, kitchen pantry, fridge, friendships, my entire apartment and life!
Less Clutter, More Mindfulness.
I went into the purge mindfully, with two goals: give away anything I haven’t used in the last six months and give away anything someone else could put to better use.
I want to re-emphasize that I am already an organized person, so this wasn’t a matter of cleaning out a chaotic and jumbled pile of useless items. (Some people have a lot of possessions and can find anything they need among them. Not me!) But even my organized apartment just had too much stuff in it, and it was causing me some anxiety in other places in my life.
Take my kitchen for example. This didn’t take a lot of time to clean out, because I pride myself on being a smart consumer and buy foods that are whole, real and will spoil if I don’t eat them quickly enough. This means that my kitchen is relatively always low on food, but I grocery shop every weekend to fill up on fresh finds. I have a fridge that’s mostly full of produce, eggs, and whatever meat is thawing for the week, a bowl on the counter for a week’s worth of fruit and non-refrigerated produce (potatoes, avocadoes, etc.), and a freezer with lots of grass-fed meats, batches of homemade bone broth and some frozen fruit for smoothies. Click here to get my real food guide.
As a dietitian, I absolutely love food, and if you’ve ever had a consult with me that was probably very clear. One of the reasons I love food and can enjoy the health benefits from eating a wide variety is my attention to quality. I try to purchase most of my animal products locally or organic/wild-caught (more on this on my next blog), buy according to the EWG Dirty Dozen clean fifteen (download their free app to always have with you at the grocery store!), and prepare most of my meals at home.
I encourage you to take a look at your kitchen—does it consist more of food or food “products?” Could you live out of your pantry for weeks (months?) without having to make a trip to the grocery store? Chances are this means your diet is lacking on some major antioxidants, phytonutrients, and whole food fiber from fresh vegetables and fruits.
Food advertisers know exactly how to target you and your family to buy those “products” they’re selling. Stop and think for a second if you really need those five boxes of crackers, or cereal, or cans of soup. Your diet will be better if you decide not to buy. Keep in mind that not consuming these items isn’t a matter of taking anything away from your diet; it’s about utilizing what’s best for you and not consuming what isn’t. Keep it simple, for your sanity’s sake.
Minimize Meal Time. Your Body Will Thank You.
Don’t let meal prep and cooking occupy too much brain space – it doesn’t have to be too difficult! If you have a passion and the time for cooking five-course meals every night then by all means, please do it (and let me come over for a sampling). However, most of us are running around trying to balance an already busy life schedule and the last thing we want to worry about is meal time. This is why I practice MACRO-trio with all of my clients. If you haven’t read my blog posts on this simple diet plan that can benefit everyone – check those out here. It’s all about bringing eating back to the basics and taking the guesswork out of meal time.
Minimize Your Belongings. Your Mind Will Thank You.
Next, I took my minimalist views to my closet. Last weekend I got rid of anything I haven’t worn in the last six months, clothes that no longer fit or clothes that weren’t in good shape. I cleaned out my entire room and took the following to a local donation center the next day so I wouldn’t have time to dig through the bags and pull out things again:
50 shirts (I seriously didn’t even know I had that much!)
17 pants, 8 pairs of shorts
2 scarves, 4 hats
5 pieces of hosiery
10 socks, 4 bras
3 pairs of boots, 7 pairs of shoes
3 headbands, 1 pair of sunglasses and 2 glasses cases
7 bracelets, 1 watch
2 pairs of earrings
1 sports bag
4 pillows and pillowcases
What does this all mean? Getting rid of items we no longer need leaves room for the important daily tasks that need to be accomplished. If calming that voice in your head is important to you, give these suggestions a try: keep your food simple so your kitchen is clutter-free (and much healthier) and get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in the last six months (seasonal wardrobe to be considered). Keep that precious headspace open for the important things in life!
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