Why you should try minimalism when you’re a student

January is over, and it’s likely that you’ve already broken a few of your new year’s resolutions. Maybe you feel like something is missing in your life, you can’t think clearly, or you just hate the clutter in your student house. If so, why not give minimalism a try?

Minimalism has featured quite prominently in the news in the last couple of years and has inevitably been shrouded in criticism and suspicion. Of course, anything in the extreme has the potential to be detrimental – including ideas such as owning no more than seven items – but the philosophy of minimalism as a whole can be both a realistic and inspirational option to look into this year.

Minimalism is, in short, the art of living on what’s important and trying your hardest to discard the unnecessary. For this reason, it’s entirely subjective and very flexible. Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, states that minimalism is simply “an extension of simplicity.” He adds that by “eliminating the unnecessary, we make room for the essential and give ourselves more breathing space.”

As a student, living a minimalist lifestyle can seem like a distant dream while surrounded by uni clutter. However, minimalism is attainable for everyone, and it’s worth noting that it is a positive way of living with many mental health benefits.

In a society rife with consumerism, taking a leaf out of a minimalist’s book can be very refreshing. Although I would never describe myself as a minimalist (rather, a former hoarder), I found that decluttering unnecessary items proved to be mentally beneficial for me. Giving away pairs of shoes, old books, clothes and hundreds of other useless bits and pieces not only served the purpose of keeping my room clean and orderly – but also did me a world of good psychologically.

However sceptical you are about minimalism, it’s impossible to ignore the psychological benefits that come with adopting a much more minimalist lifestyle. Physically decluttering and getting rid of unwanted, unnecessary possessions leads to mentally decluttering – and will instantly create a better headspace and give you clarity.

According to Psychology Today, clutter can have a detrimental effect on mental health. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, it was noted that noisy and disorganised settings in a home had a problematic effect on children and resulted in them having “more than their share of problems.”

Minimalism can also raise your self-esteem. Many studies indicate that materialistic people tend to have lower self-esteem as opposed to people that don’t buy into the newest trends. Buying the next best thing to feel worthy and “fit in” can be significantly unhelpful when trying to increase your self-esteem and doesn’t contribute to building and maintaining your confidence. Minimalism helps combat this by making us realise that we don’t necessarily need anything to be loved.

Additionally, minimalism can encourage you to develop a more precise set of goals. You may find that you reach better mental clarity which will enable you to focus properly. Clutter can cause unnecessary guilt – for example, a pair of untouched sports leggings that have been hanging up in your wardrobe for six months can only serve to remind you of your “failure” to go to the gym. Hanging onto objects can become demotivating – instead, dispose of the ones that make you feel guilty and keep those that inspire and motivate you.

Once you realise that material things aren’t necessary, you may also find yourself appreciating the little things in life more – such as nature, time spent with pets, taking a long bath – and the big ones like time in the company of family and friends. Not to mention is good for the environment.

From a financial viewpoint, minimalism is undeniably advantageous. In the long run, it can allow you to save money. Once you’ve decluttered and come to the realisation that you don’t need material things, you’ll be much less likely to keep buying new products. Additionally, you can choose to sell some of your clutter on apps such as Depop, Vinted and Mercari – or, you can just donate them to charity.

Good luck with your quest to declutter – I wish you every success with your minimalist journey in 2018.

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