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Embracing “involuntary simplicity” : MINIMALIST

I discovered minimalism five years ago when my husband and I struggled with infertility and started our treatment journey. I knew I had to make room to prepare for a baby: physical space in our house, white space in my calendar, and emotional space in my overwhelmed mind and spirit.

The trip took me to where I am today, mother of two wild boys who are trying to lead a life without excess and full of intentions. It was urgent for me to simplify my life, but it was voluntary. It was my choice. A decision that I continue to make every day when I decide where to hold on and where to let go.

We are now in a situation where “involuntary simplicity” is coming. People have fewer choices: what to buy (at least when it comes to groceries and other important things), where to go, and how to spend their time. Calendars, which are usually full of activities, are suddenly as empty as supermarket shelves.

I don’t want to downplay the economic impact of closed businesses and canceled events and services, let alone the impact on vulnerable populations who may feel isolated. However, I believe there are some important mindset changes that can help us accept “involuntary simplicity” as much as possible in this turbulent time.

1. Resources may be limited, but your ingenuity may not.

I remember Tony Robbin’s quote: “It’s not about your resources, it’s about your ingenuity.” I admit it was difficult to maintain my fullness when I saw empty store shelves. Think about how you can be imaginative and creative when planning your meals instead of frightening. Before you go to the store (or even buy anything online), first buy your pantry and take a look at the abundance that already exists!

As a parent, are you wondering how you can best spend this extra time with your children? Since our schools, parks and libraries are closed, I totally understand that! Several companies offer free educational resources that you can use (I use OtherGoose for my children, but there are other options for older children too). If you and your kids usually rush from one activity to the next, you’ll find a way to structure your day by taking into account some downtime. Children need downtime to support their developing brain. So it can be a ritual that you will continue in the future!

When we look at limitations as ways to be resourceful, the problem-solving, creative part of our brain starts up (frontal cortex) rather than the limbic brain, which is responsible for emotional responses such as anxiety and restlessness.

2. Dust off the gratitude journal! You need it now more than ever.

Gratitude is an antidote to fear. I can start my day by checking the news, or I can choose gratitude first and stay informed in the way that is healthiest for me and my family. The gratitude of the present moment is so crucial here.

At the beginning or end of the day, it can be difficult to remember the everyday things you are thankful for when your normal routine has been disrupted. At the moment, however, I can be grateful for a spontaneous dance party with my children or for a conversation with my 100-year-old grandmother who was quarantined in her nursing home. When our lives are easier, it is easier to see these everyday moments and be thankful to them.

3. Live according to your long-term values, even if you long for short-term comfort.

When our routines are disrupted, it is easy to fall into unhealthy habits that comfort us. Would you like to go to the gym? You may not be sure how a home workout routine works for you, so you will skip it altogether. Are you used to eating fresh fruits and vegetables? If fresh products are limited, you may be eating processed foods that you would normally avoid to relieve your stress. Do you want to pursue a passion but flee with Netflix instead?

Insecurity creates fear, which leads us to act in a way that contradicts our stated values. It’s tempting to turn inside and flee for short-term comfort, but deliberate living means living according to your values, even though no one else can see what you’re doing. Contact a friend to become a virtual accountability friend so that you can continue to engage (albeit in a new way) in the activities and relationships that bring you long-term fulfillment.

By changing the way we think about this period of “involuntary simplicity,” we can rediscover our ingenuity, focus on gratitude, and continue to live a life that is aligned with our values ​​and goals.

About the author: Emily McDermott is a woman, mother and seeker of simplicity and records her journey Simply from Emmy. She loves dancing, writing poems and spending time with her husband and two young sons.

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