Guest post by Abi Aldridge, Youth Network Lead, Global Action Plan
Each year we buy and throw away more stuff. Advertising is everywhere – on our TVs, social media feeds, magazines – and it means we all feel the pressure to buy more despite the fact that research shows that buying stuff doesn’t even make us happy.
Rates of depression and anxiety have increased 70% in the last 25 years and this month a report from The Prince’s Trust found that happiness and confidence young people feel in their emotional health have dropped to the lowest levels since 2009.
This Spring, Global Action Plan has launched Simplify Life – our campaign to help people escape the energy-zapping cycle of more, more more and focus on what really matters to them – be it time with loved ones, time for themselves, connecting with nature or learning new skills. We created a calendar with 28 ways you can create space in your home and your mind.
Here are our top 4 tips for simplifying your life:
1. Declutter your home
Having too much stuff can weigh us down – the clutter, the constant tidying and not being able to find things when we need them. In fact, studies on clutter in home environments have found that excessive clutter can contribute to feelings of distress and alienation.
Decluttering can often sound like a daunting task (where do you start?) but we recommend taking it one step, and one room, at a time. Start with your bedroom – what clothes haven’t you worn for a while, what doesn’t fit you anymore? Take your unwanted, not needed items to your local charity or thrift store, or recycle them.
2. Create space in your mind
Physical clutter can be stressful – but what about the clutter in our minds? We’ve all got to-do lists and things constantly on our mind (what to buy for that party we’re going to in 3 weeks, awful things we read in the news, all the things we have to do before the weekend...) but sometimes it’s good to switch off and to pay more attention to the present moment. Mindfulness, walks in nature, writing down 3 things you’re grateful for each day, reading Positive News stories – all of these will help you to switch off and see the good in the world.
3. Unplug from tech
In the UK, the average adult spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on screens – that’s more time than we spend sleeping. We’re on our phones so much – reading the news, checking Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, replying to Whatsapp messgaes. When asked about social media, almost half of 18-34 year olds said their social media feeds made them feel unattractive. And studies have found that strong links between heavy internet use and depression – so all this time on our phones isn’t doing us any good.
Try having a digital detox – turn off social media notifications on your phone, limit your tech time to 1 or 2 hours a day, leave Whatsapp groups – escape the pressures of technology and spend time on things that will make you happy.
4. Learn a new skill
When was the last time you tried something new? A 2016 study found that the average UK adult hasn’t tried a new activity or hobby in five and a half years, despite the fact that 80% of us say we notice positive effects on our wellbeing when we do!
Once you’ve decluttered, taken some you time, and saved some time by switching off tech why not use your new spare time to try something new? Learn to darn or mend broken clothing, try upcycling something old, or get creative. These actions are not just great for your wellbeing, but can also help you to connect more to others and can also have great impacts on the planet through minimising your own material consumption.
What do you think of these tips? Are you feeling ready to simplify your life? Take part in the #SimplifyLife28 day challenge today!
Learn more about wellbeing
Thank you to Abi for this brilliant guest post. To learn more about wellbeing and connect with others working on related topics, you can follow the Network of Wellbeing (NOW) on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our monthly newsletter.