Fun fact: the benefits of simplifying your life go way beyond reducing stress. As it turns out, nearly every aspect of daily life improves when we focus on what matters and let go of what doesn’t!
Like many people in the voluntary simplicity movement, I spent much of my youth trying to juggle far too many responsibilities. I was a high achiever always chasing after the next goal, the next career milestone, the next rung in the ladder of life. By the time I hit 30, I was downright exhausted and knew something had to change.
I turned to simple living as a way to de-stress and recommit to the things I truly valued: sustainability and family. But after a few months, I noticed positive changes in unexpected places.
Setting a morning alarm became unnecessary. Making weekend plans felt enjoyable instead of anxiety-inducing. Walking the dog developed into daily reflection time.
Now, I’m not suggesting that living a simple life will solve all your problems and turn you into a zen master (it certainly hasn’t for me)! But there will be some beneficial knock-on effects after you simplify and declutter your life.
How many times have you vowed to start flossing and then given up a week later?
Our willpower is finite, and every decision we make in a day drains our reserve. Unfortunately, changes we make to our typical way of life take a tremendous amount of willpower. It’s why we struggle to start flossing daily or stick to a new gym routine even though we know it’s good for our health.
Luckily, one of the biggest benefits of simplifying your life is a stronger will. Although willpower isn’t unlimited, we can strengthen it through mindfulness and relaxation, two things that happen when you embrace simple living.
Additionally, a simple life means fewer obligations and distractions cluttering up your mind.
It’s much easier to form new habits when you aren’t constantly scrolling through social media and trying to recreate Instagram-worthy bento box lunches.
We live in the smartphone age, with little chimes constantly alerting us to emails, events, and cute pictures of corgis in birthday hats.
These digital distractions seem harmless, but they add up quickly. And when you combine them with our increasingly busy schedules, it’s no wonder we can barely concentrate on a task for 10 minutes before something yanks our attention away.
Part of simple living is cutting out distractions–the things that don’t add value to our lives. With fewer appointments, social media posts, and Candy Crush games vying for our time, we have more headspace to focus on the task at hand.
It might sound like the benefits of simple living come at the expense of relationships. After all, how can you stay connected with the people you care about if you scale back on social media and weekly coffee dates?
The answer is simple: you make time for who you love.
Despite living 3,800 miles and 5 time zones away from my parents, I talk to them more now than when it was 500 miles and 0 time zones. I used to believe I was too busy to call. But the reality was that my priorities were out of whack, and I was too stressed out to notice.
Aside from having more time to genuinely connect (i.e. not occasionally text) with others, you’ll likely become a better communicator. It’s one of the best minimalist lifestyle tips I’ve picked up over the years.
This goes back to the improved concentration bit. Meaningful conversations happen when you’re fully present in the moment instead of thinking about looming deadlines and long to-do lists.
People take notice when you’re actively listening and engaging, and they’re more likely to open up to you in the future.
I’ve been sleep-grinding my teeth since high school. There are literally cracks and wear spots on my molars. And after an especially stressful day, I’d wake up the next morning with headaches and jaw pain.
Since I started living more simply, my sleep has been far more restful. While the nightly grinding hasn’t totally stopped, I rarely have bad episodes and generally sleep straight through the night.
If you’re the type of person who suddenly wakes up at 2am worried about a forgotten task or work email, simple living could help you reclaim much-needed zzz’s.
Extra money in the bank
One of the more exciting benefits of simple living was seeing our savings grow. While I never struggled with impulse shopping, I did have a mild Stitch Fix addiction, and we spent a shocking amount of money on food delivery.
In the past, I played mental gymnastics to justify those expenses. The monthly dose of new clothes were “necessary” for my corporate job. Delivery was a time-saver and an “entertainment” expense because we loved food.
But in reality, the cute outfits and constant stream of delivered treats were a band-aid, a distraction from the real issue: I didn’t enjoy my job or the direction my life was headed.
I wasn’t able to make that connection until I consciously slowed down and made time for self-reflection.
Once I realized what was fueling the spending, it was easier to scale back (or in the case of Stitch Fix, stop it entirely). When you aren’t buying things to feel happy, impress others, or squeeze an extra few minutes out of a packed schedule, you’ll have more financial freedom.
It’s human nature to always want more. We spend our time, money, and energy trying to own more, do more, achieve more… And yet, once we get what we want, the satisfaction fades faster than a snowflake in July.
Instead of chasing “more”, simple living teaches us to value what we have.
As a naturally ambitious go-getter, it took me a long time to shift my thinking from “okay, what’s next?” to “isn’t this nice?”.
People who start living more simply talk about feeling newfound gratitude for their health, spouses, and other major components of life. That certainly happened for me, but I also started appreciating random stuff like my dog’s derpy smile and the size of my fridge (it’s a big deal in London).
If you want to read more about the power of gratitude, check out my recommended list of books about simple living.
Save me for later!
Healthier eating habits
Have you ever felt too busy to eat healthy foods? In this hectic modern age, it’s no surprise that rushed meals, convenience foods, and stress snacking have become the norm.
Fortunately, a simpler lifestyle supports healthier eating habits in several ways.
First and foremost, it removes unnecessary demands on our time, which in turn lowers our stress levels. Preparing nutritious meals starts feeling doable rather than daunting.
Simple living also calls for self-reflection and mindfulness–proven tactics for making healthier choices and avoiding unnecessary snacking.
Not everyone in the simple living movement is a minimalist. But typically, owning less stuff is a byproduct and benefit of simplifying your life.
I used to spend most of my Sundays cleaning our two-story house. It would look nice for maybe a day before pet hair and dust started swirling around all the furniture and knick-knacks.
Now that we live in a small two bedroom flat with about 70% fewer possessions and clutter, I can clean the whole place in a couple hours. I wouldn’t trade it for all the space in the world!
Owning less stuff also forces you to clean frequently rather than let things pile up. We only have six plates and a small rotation of clothes, so there’s never a menacing mountain of dirty dishes or laundry to tackle.
RELATED: Where to Move to Live a Simple Life
All of these simple living benefits add up to one thing: freedom.
When your mind is rested, decluttered, and attuned to your needs and values, nothing feels impossible. The future becomes a source of new opportunities instead of tiring obligations.
I realize this sounds like something out of a motivational speech! But you’ll be surprised what a positive mindset and less stress will do to your outlook on life.
This post has a related Google Web Story. View it here.