Feeling Stressed Out By Lockdown Life? Now Might Be A Good Time To Minimalise

Photo by Huy Phan on Pexels.com

I understand it, I, like millions of other people in the West have just been asked to change my way of living. There is an invisible enemy, a killer, sweeping across our lands and it’s killing the oldest and the most vulnerable among us. It’s a terrifying time to be alive, as nobody really knows how many lives it will take before it’s done.

To help protect ourselves, our medical staff and those who are most vulnerable, we’ve all been asked to stay indoors as much as possible for the next 2-3 months. Doing so will help reduce the workload for our healthcare systems.

Many years ago, being stuck at home would have been a daunting prospect for me. In fact, even now with a cluttered desk and an unmade bed, it still feels unnecessarily stressful. My tiny 120ft square ground floor flat has never felt more like a prison cell, even if it does boast a garden with ample sun and friendly neighbours.

For those of us who are so used to our social liberties, the conditions we’ve been expected to live with for the next 2-3 months come as a hard blow. Last Tuesday, I paced through the local parks with my Mum by my side, laughing and discussing the absurdity of it all. On Friday in an emotional Facebook chat, I told her that I won’t be able to see her for the next eight to twelve weeks – just in time for Mother’s Day.

My Mum is not scared of Coronavirus, not even one iota. She’s 58, and though she has hypertension, she manages it well with tablets. Mum has fought far more life-threatening conditions like severe food poisoning and preclampsia. The people who are most at risk of severe complications from this new virus were the very ill or the very old, she concluded, and I couldn’t disagree with her logic. Mum works in an residential care home which has been placed on lockdown amidst the outbreak. No visitors are allowed in except in compassionate circumstances to try and reduce the risk, though there is still always going to be the small worry that one of the members of staff may have picked the virus up. Management have put down the likelihood of at least one case of Coronavirus in the building as 100% – it’s almost certain to happen.

So that our healthcare industries can cope when another severe case is wheeled through the doors, governments in the West have imposed a lockdown for at least the next 84 days. Even if we only have 20 cases so far in Bristol (compared to more than 1,000 in London), social distancing measures are in place nationwide, social distancing measures like not physically visiting my Mum.

But this lack of family visits leaves us with another problem. If we’re not making cups of tea and preparing dinner for the family, what do we do? What can we do with our time?

If you’re anything like me, mess and clutter is immensely stressful. The antidote to that is minimalism.

For a lot of people, minimalism means living with nothing but the bare essentials, but minimalism doesn’t have to be that way. As Marie Kondo describes it, if it doesn’t fill your heart with joy, get rid of it.

Minimalism isn’t something that you can practice overnight and to be honest, I still have a lot to go. I opened my wardrobe only earlier this week and had a bag of odd socks fall from the top shelf and onto my head, showing me and the floor in an array of colourful but mismatched garments. I sighed to myself, I really should get more organised. When I first started my minimalism journey, it was about simply being able to manage my home, I struggled at managing my home, and having less to manage gave me more of a chance to manage it, except that so far it’s been unachievable. Because of visitors and unexpected outings and door knocks, I’ve always been distracted from my objective.

Except now I have at least 3 months of no family visits, I have plenty of time to complete it.

Minimalism doesn’t need to be all about getting rid of or going without. To achieve your best results, work with intention. Work with the intention of making your life better, making your life easier and simpler. The less mess you have to live with, the easier your time in lockdown will be. The less mess and rubbish you (and your partner, family and/or pets) needs to wade through, the easier it will be for everyone. Set the intention to a little each day, and make your once cluttered and mismatched home into your own sanctuary, your own comfort zone.

With time, you will find that less junk means you can focus on the other tasks you don’t normally do. I for one started to find that less junk in my bedroom made me more inclined to make my bed, and a made bed made me more inclined to empty out the washed and dried laundry, fold it and put it away. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with housework, but by getting rid of the things that we no longer look at, we can make our homes a much easier place to live in. My bedroom isn’t perfect yet, but at least it was something.

When it comes to getting organised, focus on one room or one task each day. Today while my husband has been working, I have focused a bit more on the bedroom. It is hoped that as of Tuesday, he will be working at home with me. His working from home puts a lot of pressure on me to get our new office/bedroom space ready, so I’ve been shifting the contents of my desk into a woven hamper to slide onto the shelf onto the coffee/dining table, which will also double as my desk for the next however many months. As my husband is being given a computer tower on loan, he is taking over my desk so that we don’t have a computer in the middle of the living room. Getting organised now will stop us being at each other’s throats later.

Viruses and pandemics can feel daunting and scary, and yet, by having clutter-free surfaces, it makes them easy to clean. Not only will less mess help your mental well-being, but it could go a way to your plan to protect your family.

These will be challenging times, but I firmly believe that we can all emerge better from it. Lockdown only needs to feel like a prison sentence if you treat it that way. Don’t see this time as some form of punishment, see it as a chance to improve your overall wellbeing.

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,

Helen xx

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