15 SIMPLE LIVING TIPS FOR LESS STRESS AND MORE FREEDOM
Simplifying life can help us create more ease, time and freedom with less stress. Here are 15 simple living tips to help you begin simplifying your life today.
WHAT IS SIMPLE LIVING?
Let me answer this question by asking YOU a question first. Does your life feel busy and complicated? For many of us, I think the answer would probably be yes!
Modern life has a way of pushing and pulling us to and fro. We fill our homes, schedules, days and minds with all manner of shiny things (real and metaphorical) that grab our attention and take us away from what we should or want to be doing instead. Maybe we feel we have to do/buy/be all these things, sometimes we just want them anyway.
The problem is that more of all this doesn’t seem to make us happier or more fulfilled. It often just serves to distract and detract from the life that we really want to be living.
So, if life feels complicated then simple living is the antidote. A simpler life doesn’t always come easy (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) but it does often make life easier. And, often, with more time, space and freedom to pursue a meaningful life in whatever way that means to you.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”Hans Hofmann
HOW TO LIVE SIMPLY
When I try to explain simple living, I think it’s helpful to give some examples. It feels a bit woolly to just say you focus more on what matters and less on what doesn’t! Although this is true, it probably helps to give you some ideas – and that’s what the simple living tips in this article will hopefully do so that you can try out simple living for yourself.
As I mentioned above, living simply isn’t that easy to do. Today we have more messages than ever before telling us what we need to have, do, buy and be more of in order to live life to the full. It’s countercultural and often feels a little weird to want to do the opposite! If simple living feels difficult, don’t be disheartened! I wrote an article about why simplifying life isn’t easy because you’re not alone if you feel that way.
WHAT SIMPLE LIVING WON’T DO
Before I share some simple living tips, I feel I should mention something obvious but important. Simple living won’t make your life perfect. It won’t remove life’s challenges, the difficult times and the sad times. Life is full of good bits and bad but I do passionately believe that a simple life has more margin and flexibility for when we do hit a rocky patch.
Whether you’re navigating illness, mental health issues, financial or work worries, a change in circumstance, bereavement or just struggling with your day-to-day, living a simple life can offer you more bandwidth. It can give you more capacity to deal with your troubles because there’s less focus on the clutter and empty padding that pulls us away from what matters because we’re too busy dealing with all the stuff that doesn’t.
15 SIMPLE LIVING TIPS FOR LESS STRESS AND MORE FREEDOM
To explore a simpler lifestyle for yourself, with more of what matters and less of what doesn’t, here are 15 simple living tips for less stress and more freedom. Explore which feel right to you and take your time to build them into your life.
1. Declutter your home
Everything starts at home so the first of my simple living tips will also begin at home. Home is where we come back to at the end of a long day and launch ourselves from at the start of the next. It’s a safe space where we relax, have fun, entertain and spend time with our family.
Your home should be a sanctuary and place you love to be, not that’s a burden on your time and energy. You don’t want to be worrying about the state of your home, whether you need to clean it or when to get the next load of laundry on.
- Clear the clutter in your home, find ways to remove the unnecessary items that just take up your space, time and energy. Reduce the amount of stuff that you need to look after, tidy and clean and feel the amazing benefits of a decluttered home.
- Develop routines for your housework so that the grime and dirty laundry doesn’t build up but gets done, little and often. Here are some tips on how to spend less time cleaning.
Your home will run smoothly and be much easier to look after with minimum effort from you. That means you can spend your time and energy focusing less on maintaining your home and more on enjoying it!
2. Learn to say no
Life is full of demands and shiny things to tempt us or push us into saying yes. Yes to that bargain in the shops, yes to the invitation for coffee with a friend, yes to the request for help at the school fundraiser.
However, when you say yes to one thing, you’re also saying no to another. Without being mindful of what’s important, what truly matters to you and what you feel called to say ‘yes’ to, then busy and complicated will become your status quo.
Saying no is like a muscle. It gets stronger with use. Practice the art of saying ‘no’, of getting comfortable with hearing yourself say it and knowing that it doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever, just not for now. Acknowledge that declining, postponing or giving something a miss won’t mean that your life will be emptier. Instead, a simple life is about curating a life that protects and supports you and a great way to start is by protecting your most limited resource – your precious time!
If you struggle with saying no, you might enjoy this article which explores how setting clear boundaries can help us protect our time, or this article on some other ways you can be intentional with your time.
3. Prioritise self-care
When we’re overloaded, tired out or run down because we haven’t been looking after ourselves, then life seems much more overwhelming and tough.
It’s amazing how little niggles become frustrations. Frustrations that aren’t dealt with can turn into resentment and anger, which is definitely not the way to lead and love a simple life!
Self-care and putting yourself first isn’t about being selfish. It’s about learning to find ways to empower and strengthen yourself, physically and emotionally, so you can be there for everyone who needs you, including yourself.
There are plenty of simple ways you can take care of yourself. Just small changes, here and there, to your daily routine can really help keep your body and mind strong and healthy. They don’t have to add to your To Do list and you needn’t feel guilty for letting them take you away from other, supposedly ‘more important’ things.
So often we think of self-care too little, too late. An early night because we’ve been burning the midnight oil this past month, a detox diet if we’ve been living on caffeine and carbs, a physio appointment for a neck strain that we’ve been trying to ignore. It may be an obvious statement but your body and mind are important. You want them to work as well as they can, for as long as they can. So, just like you look after your car to make sure it runs, you also need to look after yourself!
4. Limit screen-time
Have you heard the saying ‘create before you consume’? You don’t have to be a social media influencer to ‘create’. Think about writing your To Do list, journaling, planning your goals for the coming week, painting, drawing, decluttering, sorting, organising, exercise, meditation, playing an instrument, baking. What else could you ‘create’? Working on our own life gives us an opportunity for exploration, growth and learning.
Step away from the screens as often as you can to give your brain and eyes a rest. Explore other ways to spend your time. Don’t feel compelled to reply instantly to every ping, buzz and notification on your phone or from your inbox. You don’t need to be available to everyone 24/7. And, if you do enjoy having your phone near, here are some productive things to do on your phone instead of losing yourself down the rabbit hole of social media.
5. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is fast becoming one of my favourite simple living tips. Gratitude is something that we so often overlook but I believe it has a fundamental role in determining our happiness in life.
Are you happy? Would you like more clothes? More money? A bigger house? More shoes? More friends? If the answer is yes, have you thought about what happens when you get these things? Will you be wanting more? Bigger? Better?
If we’re being honest, I think many of us wish we had something different because the grass is always greener on the other side! Well, what about tending to your own grass and making that flourish instead!
Instead of wishing for more of what you haven’t got, be happy and grateful for what you have now.
- Think about 5 things you’re grateful for in life.
- The things that make you smile and get out of bed for each morning.
- Things that you wouldn’t want to be without.
Focus on them, review and prioritise them regularly. Honour these 5 things enriching your life instead of being envious of the things that you don’t have but wish you had. You might not really want or need them anyway!
6. Avoid over-spending
Sometimes we have expenses that need to be paid for but, wherever possible, avoid wasting money on things you don’t really need. Shop mindfully, save wisely, create a budget and stick to it. Spend money on things that will add meaning and value to your life. Avoid stressing yourself out through debt, juggling multiple store cards, or not knowing where your money goes each month. If you struggle with debt, face it head on and seek support if you feel you need it. Here are some ways that minimalism can help you save money.
7. Identify your priorities
When you’re getting rid of clutter in life, it’s part and parcel of the process to work out what that clutter is. In identifying the types of clutter, you’re forcing yourself to prioritise and clarify what’s important and what’s not.
In the past I would have said that everything is important, otherwise why would it be in my life? But actually, when I really think about it, there are very few things that are truly, deeply important. My kids, my family, health and happiness, my relationships, my time and the legacy I’d like to leave for the world.
My priorities might change over time, but essentially these are what drives me onwards every day.
Identifying these priorities makes my life a lot simpler so this is one of the most important simple living tips I’d like to share with you today.
I focus on doing things that honour these priorities and do something towards them every day if I can. The rest of what I thought was important in life takes a back seat when I need it to and I don’t clutter my brain, heart or time with things that don’t matter so much. You might enjoy these 4 questions to inspire a simpler life.
8. Take action when you need to
Sometimes we hit problems in life, big and small. Sometimes they go away on their own but, often, problems require sorting. If you have a problem, need to make a change, require support, help or advice, I encourage you to seek it. Procrastinating, making excuses, blaming others or hiding your head in the sand won’t help. Be strong and make that first little step by taking action.
9. Create space in your diary
One of the main motivating factors for me in simplifying my own life was that I wanted more time. Not necessarily more time to fit things in, but just more time for me, my kids, my family and my sanity!
I wanted to do less, be less busy, feel less stressed out because I was always chasing my tail. I craved more free time, more down time that wasn’t filled with a list of things to do and places to be. I wanted to have time to explore new opportunities, read books, play with my kids, watch mindless TV, take a nap – just because I could.
This tip is way down the list but really it should be near the top. One of the most impactful ways of living a simple life with less stress and more freedom is by creating space in your diary.
- Stop overbooking, underestimating how long things take, committing to everything.
- Forget FOMO (fear of missing out!), learn to say no (see above), be intentional.
- Create space in the form of free time. Carve out blocks of time when you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything apart from what you feel like doing at that particular moment.
- Keep it simple, uncomplicated and go with the flow.
10. Write things down
Sometimes my life gets a little busy and my brain goes into overdrive. It’s at times like this that I need to remember lots of things but it’s also usually these times when I seem to remember the least! I think my mind gets foggy with too many thoughts so my simple solution is to write things down. Whether it’s a quick checklist of things I need to do today or a shopping list saved on my phone for when I’m next at the shops, I write everything down. This stops me forgetting things and keeps my head clear for the more important things in life!
11. Delegate, automate and organise
This is one of my favourite simple living tips! Make your life easier and therefore a little simpler by taking away some of those routine tasks. Here are some ideas…
- Housework and chores
- Walking the dog
- Paying bills by direct debit
- Order your grocery shop online
- Set reminders and alerts on your phone
- Your paperwork and paper filing system
- Your emails
- The medicine cabinet/box, pantry/larder/food cupboards, make-up and toiletries
These are just some ideas… Look around your home and check your diary. Think about the things in your life that you need, require or use often and ways you can make them easier and simpler.
12. Simplify your wardrobe
We make lots of decisions every day. Many tiny, a minority are bigger. Some internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day which is a lot of decisions!
One of the first decisions of our day is what we’re going to wear. We throw open the wardrobe doors and often look for inspiration, only to be confronted with too much choice, too little that we actually want to wear and not enough time to give it some careful thought. The result is confusion, stress and throwing something on and hoping for the best! Sound familiar?
I’m the first one to admit I’m no style guru but I do like to look put together. It makes me FEEL better for the day ahead if I think I LOOK ok.
One of the first simplifying projects I undertook and the one that still makes a big difference to me every day, is simplifying my wardrobe.
By getting rid of the clothes I never wore, curating a wardrobe of clothes that I loved to wear and felt good in, finding my signature style and stopping buying random stuff just because it was in the sales, I learnt that less truly can be more.
My wardrobe is smaller but I know everything in it is just right for me. All the pieces coordinate with each other and I can pull an outfit together in the space of minutes.
That’s one less difficult decision made in my day. And, more time to do other things and stress less each morning. Bingo! Here are some questions to help you decide which clothes to declutter.
13. Keep a diary
Along the same lines as writing things down, I like to keep a diary on my phone where I record every activity and appointment. I use Google calendars which I share with my husband so we can both see what’s going on, where and when. I check my calendar at the start of every month, week and in the evening for the next day so there aren’t any big surprises! Being organised definitely supports a simpler life so you might enjoy these ways to be more organised in life and at home.
14. Listen to yourself
As a simple living tip I can’t emphasise this one enough although it might not seem the most practical way of simplifying your life! Believe in your mind, body and heart. If they’re telling you something isn’t right, listen. Make changes, try something new, ditch an old habit, learn a new skill, give up something.
A simple life is a freer, more flexible one. Make your life as uncomplicated as it can be by decluttering, minimalizing, organising, planning, cutting back and streamlining. The purpose of this is not just to see how simple you can make things, but it allows space for you to listen to what you need and want in life.
Personal growth, self-development, time for family, making memories, living life to the full. These are the ultimate aims of simplifying your life but to make that happen in the right way for you, you need to listen to yourself.
Ask yourself some searching questions, for example…
- What do you need?
- What makes you happy?
- What inspires you?
Once you listen to yourself (and not the noisy world around you) then you can identify your priorities, what’s important and what’s not.
15. Get outdoors
Whenever I need to find calm, peace or clarity I go for a walk. I take a few minutes, striding out in the fresh air. Moving my body, having time to reflect and think, helps me work through the thoughts in my head.
Nature has such a calming influence on me. It helps me put small problems into perspective, helps me work through big problems and simplifies my jumbled thoughts so I can take easy, effective and strategic action.
Try a walk today, even for just 5 minutes, and let me know how you find it! Of course, if walking isn’t your thing, try running, karate, yoga, meditation, reading – anything you enjoy which calms and grounds you. Go back to basics, do more of what makes you happy and keep it simple and sustainable.
SIMPLE LIVING AND A MEANINGFUL LIFE
Simple doesn’t mean empty, boring or rigid. Simple just means uncomplicated, effortless, easier and more straightforward. Aside from the ups and downs of life, simple living allows us space and freedom to live a life of purpose. To use a very common example, less clutter in your home makes it easier to keep clean and tidy. When you spend less time cleaning, you can spend more time doing other things. What would you like to do if you had more time. Go on, have a think!
There are many ways we can practice simple living and I’ve shared some of these tips above.
Before I do, notice how I use the word ‘practice’? Well, simple living is a practice. It’s not a do-it-once-and-you’re-done project. It takes time, perseverance and regular reappraisal to ensure that your simple life doesn’t become complicated again. A bit like clutter creeps around our homes, clutter can creep into our lives in just the same way!
I’m always re-evaluating my simple life and looking for signs that my life and myself are out of sync. When I feel stressed, overly tired, overwhelmed or frustrated then I know it’s time to realign my values and priorities with my day-to-day.
To read more about how you can do this for yourself, you might enjoy this article on how to define your priorities and why it matters. There’s a free printable worksheet you can get too to help you brainstorm.
YOUR NEXT STEP…
I hope you enjoyed these simple living tips and you found them helpful.
Clearing clutter, in your home, schedule or mind is a great first step to simplifying your life. To guide you through the process, I’ve created a Declutter Starter Kit, packed with projects, tips and advice to help you start decluttering (even if you have a lot of stuff and not a lot of time or energy!).
Pop your details in the box below to get your copy…
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!