Minimalist lifestyle for women’s health: the benefits

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Adopting a minimalist lifestyle for women can have a massive impact on their mental, physical and psychological health. From spending less time cleaning to having better relationships with family members, owning fewer items is just the beginning of how creating a more minimal living space can improve many areas of a woman’s life.

Table of Contents
Are minimalists happier?
What is clutter?
Why clutter is bad for your mental health
How women are different
Why minimalism
Benefits of minimalism

a minimalist home because the minimalist lifestyle is great for a woman's health

Are minimalists happier?

Right out of the gate, I want to state that living with less generally makes life much easier, and I’ll get into that in a minute. So yes, Minimalism can remove a lot of stress from one’s life, but all people can be affected by stress, life circumstances and more. Let’s get into why clutter is hard on us, how women are different, how minimalism is good and how to do it!

What is clutter?

Clutter is a collection of things in a disorganized state. It can be physical, mental, ideas, etc. This article is about how physical clutter (and even digital clutter) can have a major impact on women’s lives. When I think of clutter, I imagine piles of things here and there. Things that don’t necessarily make sense together. There’s a lack of order.

clutter on a desk

Why clutter is bad for your mental health

There aren’t a tonne of studies, on clutter in general, but we know that the brain prefers a calmer environment from studies done at Harvard with fMRI machines*. I for one prefer less visual clutter in just about any environment. I LOVE staying at hotels because they are so darn minimal. Amazing.

Our brains can easily get overwhelmed by chaotic or cluttered environments which can cause or increase feelings of anxiety. It’s just too much information for our brains to take in. These anxious feelings can increase levels of cortisol in our blood (more on that later).

Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler discusses in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-resilient-brain/202302/the-many-mental-benefits-of-decluttering) the impact clutter can have on the human brain*. She explains that visual distraction can cause cognitive overload which can impair our working memory. 

So imagine that being in a cluttered environment is bad for you on an acute (occasional) level, but what if it’s every day? So many of us live in chronically cluttered homes. This takes a lot of mental energy just to live in your home.

So, not only does clutter affect your anxiety which would then affect many women’s (and men’s, but this is about women’s) emotional health, but all of this anxiety and stress, have a big impact on our physical health.

a plastic brain model

Cortisol and your physical health

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced by our adrenal glands*. Cortisol levels are meant to go up and down. Typically, they rise in the morning and steadily decline as the day goes on. We need cortisol to respond to threats on an appropriate level (think a bear or lion surprising you on your morning walk).

When we are chronically stressed, we usually have elevated cortisol levels. This can lead to a host of cardiovascular conditions including increased blood pressure and atherosclerosis. The immune system can also be impaired which can increase the risk of infection (think viruses), and make it harder to fight conditions like cancer. Other conditions like diabetes can develop as well.

It’s also WAY harder to take care of yourself, get proper sleep and eat well when our cortisol levels are elevated. Naturally, all of these things harm your health. The minimalist lifestyle can help counteract and improve women’s health because we are different.

Women are different

I love the Tedx Talk that Dr Stacy Sims did about how women are not small men. She’s mostly speaking about health and fitness, but this is a theme that can span a lot in life. 

When I embarked on my minimalist journey, it was in response to an article I read back in 2018 or 2019 about how women are more bothered by a cluttered space than men. 

Saxbe et al. found that women’s cortisol levels were more affected by a cluttered home environment than men*. 

I believe there could be a few reasons for this:

A. Women were traditionally designed to be the people at home taking care of the children, the homestead, the food and more. If they are trying to work in a cluttered space, it’s harder to do that work (more on this in a bit).

B. We believe our work is not done when the home is cluttered.

So why minimalism?

Well let’s get into the minimalist lifestyle and how it does affect women’s health.

I am not one of those die-hard minimalists. I like to call myself minimalist lite. I still have things. I own more than one dish per person. I have items for my hobbies like cooking and gardening. We have artwork we enjoy. I have some decor; however, I choose to live with much less than the average person.

I keep essential items that we use on a regular basis. I try not to keep things “just-in-case” (see my article all about those and how to decide if you should declutter them in my 20-20-20 rule post), and I like to live in a somewhat clutter-free environment.

a tidy clean minimalist desk helps with an easier lifestyle for women

Benefits of minimalism

My family thinks I’m obsessed with minimalism, I’m not, but I realllllly like it. A clutter-free has had such a positive impact on my own happiness that I truly want to shout it from the rooftops.

First off, there is less stress caused by being surrounded by too much stuff. Love it. That means I have better sleep, I can focus better, and I am not constantly reaching for sweets because my home is cluttered.

Second, life is easier. It’s easier to clean when we have fewer possessions to shuffle around so we can simply vacuum or dust–hooray!

Third, we save time by managing our belongings less. I used to say “I need to organize this weekend.” What a joke that was! When you have too many material possessions, you need to manage them. Can you think of a more ridiculous thing than spending time moving things around? When you have less stuff, you can have more quality time with your family (or by sneaking off and reading a book!)

Fourth, we save money. We are careful about what we buy and don’t buy unnecessary items which waste our money and clutter up our space. Now, we have extra money AND the minimalism benefits that go with it!

Fifth, less waste! When you buy less, you waste less. There’s less garbage, fewer things to break and I love the positive environmental impact this has.

Surprising positive changes

I never realized how much the clutter in my home was affecting my focus. As a family where four out of five of us have ADHD, focus matters. Since we now have fewer things, we now have fewer distractions. Our minimalist lifestyle has made a major impact on this woman’s health and all the men in my house too!

tidy decluttered minimalist kitchen with white cupboards and countertops and a greenish blue island

Adopting the minimalist mindset

There’s no need to start throwing all of your material things out immediately. You can take it slow. See adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle as a chance for some personal growth. Here’s how:

Start slowing decluttering It’s not a race, you may have lived with clutter for a long time, so there’s no rush. Just work towards it every day, bit by bit.

As you start living with less clutter, consider what else you’d like to simplify. Maybe you realize that you like living a simple life and you want to limit social media as well. Keep working and reducing because the less clutter in your home and your mind, the better for your health!

Looking for tips for a clutter-free home, check out my A to Z decluttering strategy here to learn my full strategy to simplify your home and your life!

Yes, a minimalist lifestyle is great for women’s health!

Overall, just removing stuff from our lives makes it easier. It’s like swimming without a lead vest, armbands and leg weights. Life is just easier.

Do you want to learn how to declutter your home? Check out this blog post here

How to declutter your home from start to finish Youtube video here

*References

Cay, M., Ucar, C., Senol, D., Cevirgen, F., Ozbag, D., Altay, Z., & Yildiz, S. (2018). Effect of increase in cortisol level due to stress in healthy young individuals on dynamic and static balance scores. Northern Clinics of Istanbul5(4), 295-301. https://doi.org/10.14744/nci.2017.42103

Ferrari, J.R., Roster, C.A., Crum, K.P. et al. Procrastinators and Clutter: An Ecological View of Living with Excessive “Stuff”. Current Psychology 37, 441–444 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-017-9682-9

Government of Australia. The role of cortisol in the body. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/the-role-of-cortisol-in-the-body#:~:text=Cortisol%20is%20a%20steroid%20hormone,cortisol%20can%20cause%20health%20problems.

Dr Diane Roberts Stoler (2023). Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-resilient-brain/202302/the-many-mental-benefits-of-decluttering)

Saxbe, D. E., & Repetti, R. (2009). No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167209352864

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