You many not realize it, but our physical environment has a huge impact on our mental state. Everything around us impacts the way we feel, the way we perceive the world and the people in it, the way we react to it, and even how we feel about ourselves. There are the elements we can control to some extent: where we live, the things in that space, how we take care of those things, the music we play, the shows we watch, the people we live with, the car we drive, the clothes we wear,etc. And then there are the elements we can’t control: traffic, weather, the people we run into, politics, and what is on social media. When our space is a mess and the world is bombarding us, it is easy to get overwhelmed and sucked in, getting stuck in unhealthy cycles, living a reactionary existence. Thankfully, with the right tools and a little self-awareness, you can make changes that will greatly impact how you feel about your life and your space.
Our personal spaces, our home and our car are the easiest to control and tend to be where we spend the bulk of our time so that’s good news! I know I love the feeling when my car is CLEAN, when I can get in and take a deep breath and actually enjoy being in there! It’s empowering heading to work knowing I have everything I need (and know exactly where it is), that the dogs will be safe and have nothing to get into or be injured on, that my car will look safe and I will look more professional for our clients. Coming home to a clean house leaves me feeling like my evening holds possibilities and freedom to enjoy life, instead of being frustrated by mess and clutter, feeling guilt for the state of things, and the overwhelm of yet more to do.
To create a clean enjoyable home environment that rejuvenates and inspires you, you first have to get rid of all the crap that does the opposite. We live in such a consumer driven, materialistic world where it’s relatively cheap and super convenient to buy anything your heart desires. I know I love amazon and am certainly guilty of buying plenty I need. But in our chaotic busy world, all those things can quickly take over and bog us down.
That’s why the Marie Kondo’s method from her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up really resonated with me. Simply put, you go through your space and all your belongings, one category at a time, and choose to keep only the items which bring you joy. As you pick up an object, pay attention to how you feel about that item, what purpose it serves in your life, and if keeping is the right call. Easier said than done for sure but the simplicity is what I love about it. I started in with my clothes and already it feels so much nicer having more space in my dresser and closet, only having clothes I actually like and that I feel good in.
It’s freeing, living with only what you need and enjoy, freeing up your time and money for the things in life you really enjoy. Here’s a good article delving more into the method as well as a checklist to get you started! Once things are sorted, here are some great tips for keeping it al clean. If you’re liking this approach, I’d highly recommend learning more about the benefits of minimalism in the Netflix movie Minalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.
We know can’t always control the environment around us, but we can control how we react to it. It’s a hard one to do, but worth paying attention to how you feel as you go through the day, noticing what pushes your buttons, what triggers the stress or negative emotions. In our society, our attention is always being pulled in a million directions, and we have all become slave to our phones. They’re often the first thing we pick up in the morning, the last thing we look at in the evening, and our way to feel connected. But how many times have you been distracted by the constant notifications, meant to do something then read an email or a post that sent you reeling. Or one that you followed down the rabbit hole and what was supposed to be a quick check of tomorrow’s weather became an hour clicking, scanning, searching, shopping, commenting, etc… We are becoming a society that is impulsive and shallow, where we spend more time living superficial lives in our technology, reacting to things as they are thrown at us.
Awareness is the first step to change though and there are plenty of techniques and life hacks to take back your control! You should be living your best life, doing and enjoying the things you want to do. So much comes down to planning ahead and creating a routine that works for you. You want to set yourself up for success and choose how you want to spend your days. I guarantee you will feel happier and more empowered when you do. This short video delves more into this idea, giving some great tips for regaining perspective and control of your life.
Changing our patterns of thought takes practice but an excellent way to get there is through meditation. And I don’t mean spending hours chanting om in a candlelit room. Meditation is simply teaching your brain to step back for a moment, to regain focus and clarity, and be able to better deal with everything thrown at us. Headspace is an amazing free app for mediation and I promise you 2-10 min a day will change your life.
Putting down the phone and switching off the news were really challenging for me but made such a big difference in how I feel about my life. I still catch important news and look at things from time to time, but by choosing how much I’m exposed to, and how much of my time I give those things, it’s made a big impact. I helped control my addiction and the way I use my phone entirely following these tips. Read this and give it a try.
The other big stressor for me was always driving. The city can be rough and as much as we drive in it day after day, it is hard not to get frustrated. There are more cars on the road and people on the street each day and they are all paying less and less attention to what is around them. I would find myself in moments of road rage that stuck well beyond the actual incident. I would carry it with me and then found that everything else irritated me that much more. And guess what? The dogs didn’t listen then either. They saw me yelling like a crazy person, not understanding the annoyances of traffic. All they saw was an unstable frustrated person and one they should be wary of.
So I decided to make a change and beat my road rage. I stopped listening to the radio, news, or political podcasts. I decided to use the time in the car to instead focus on something I enjoy; mellow happy music and so so many podcasts. I’ve learned about health and finances, fascinating science and stories of people from all over, and so much more that has brought me knowledge and joy. This sets a positive tone for all that time in the car and makes it a little easier to let all the crazy outside stay outside. Personal favorite podcasts are the dave ramsey show, radiolab, this american life, two dope queens, and the school of greatness.
So those are my tips tricks and suggestions for getting control and dealing with our physical environment. If you have some you’ve found helpful, I’d love you to share them with the team!