Life can get pretty hectic, disorderly, and exhausting, right? Even though we all love many aspects of our lives, sometimes the load of responsibilities we have upon us can be overwhelming and overloading. Remembering to incorporate things to help us keep balance is critical to our emotional and spiritual well-being, so here are some ideas to help stoke the fires towards a more simple life.
A word of caution: The likelihood of being able to incorporate all of these in one foul swoop is highly unlikely, and unnecessary. Of course, trying to do one or a few of them regularly would be highly beneficial, but don’t let the lie that you have to do them all steal your joy! Pick one or two to give a try first, and then continue to add more simplistic, slowed down activities to your day…a little here, a little there.
15 Ways to Live More Simply
1. Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry – Although this may not seem like a viable option for those of us already burdened by much of the day-to-day activities, slowing down and getting outside is a great way to reduce stress and keep perspective. Hanging laundry allows for a more paced enjoyment of the process of caring for the home, even something as simple as “doing the laundry.” The presence of nature, singing birds, and various outdoor sounds naturally provides a soothing and calming effect in our mind and spirit. But, if the idea of doing something “work” related like this just adds to your stress, skip onto another way to slow down and live more simply.
2. Go Outside and Just Sit – As mentioned above, being outside is an ample stress reliever, one which I think is underutilized in our mostly indoor culture. Whenever stress is creeping up, simply step outside and breathe in the air, listen to the sounds of nature, and enjoy the moment of general silence. If coffee or tea is a soothing drink for you, add a warm mug of it to the event for even more enjoyment.
3. Sit and Read a Book – If you can manage it, sneak in 10-15 minutes to just relax on the couch, pull-out chair, or tree stump and enjoy a good book, whatever kind you prefer. Even though not a substantial period of time, even a short period of relaxation can provide a needed energy bump in a tiring day.
4. Plant a Garden – To me gardens are kind of like the “gift that keeps on giving.” Although some level of work is needed for initial creation and maintenance, the work is usually calming and enjoyable. Choose your garden additions based on the kind of maintenance you desire, plan according to the size you want, and then plant away!
5. Listen to Classical Music (or other Music you find Soothing) – Put in a CD, pull up Pandora, or plug in your iTunes and enjoy the sounds of some kind of relaxing music you find enjoyable. Classical music has been well documented to engage the mind in ways other music does not, but since the point is to relax, find something that you would find enjoyable and fill the sound waves with it. Just having music on can boost the mood of the day, even if it is simply on in the background. I have many occasions where just putting on some mood boosting music has helped me tackle the tasks of the day with more pep in my step =0)
6. Take a Walk – Another idea to simply get outside, taking a walk provides a great break in the day for both adults and kids alike! Make it a nature walk by noting various creatures and creations that you see along the way, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds with silence in the air. The boost of endorphins from the slight physical activity will also add to the stress relieving benefits of a simple and leisurely walk.
7. Bake a Loaf of Bread – There is nothing quite like a homemade loaf of bread. Although I am presently not nearly as regular about it as usual, when I do take the time to make a loaf, I always feel quite satisfied and pleased with the process. The act of kneading and baking a loaf of bread, smelling the aromas when it is near the end of baking, slicing into a warm loaf, and shmearing some butter on it to enjoy is something that quite frankly does not compare to much. Now, again, this is meant to be relaxing, so if the idea of baking bread is stressful, nix it and move on.
8. Slow down and Watch the Sky (Sunset, Clouds, etc) – Apparently I think that the outdoors are stress relieving =0) Another way to live a little more simply is to see the sky as the day’s entertainment. Lay out on a blanket and go cloud-picture hunting, or stop the moment’s activity and watch the present sunrise or sunset. Teaching our children to slow down and really “see” creation is a critical part of helping them keep perspective on their “light and momentary troubles” (2 Cor. 4: 17). Also, when we slow down and really take in God’s creation, we can move into pondering the magnitude of what it teaches us about ourselves and our Creator.
9. Take a Nap – Although I do not usually nap well during the day, allowing yourself a 10-30 minute nap, or even restful time with eyes closed, can really help to bring out more energy for the rest of the day. If you can find a few spare minutes to sneak in a rest, enjoy the time and then continue on with the day.
10. Climb a Tree – This one’s for the nimble and limber people, which I am not. If you are the type that once loved to climb to nearest low hanging branch, take a few minutes if presented with the opportunity and climb a tree! Don’t go too high, if you’re concerned about safety or abilities, but do what is comfortable and helpful in bringing a joy to your heart for a piece of the day.
11. Hand Wash Dishes – When placed in proper context, hand washing dishes can be relaxing and enjoyable. If done with the mindset of relaxing the mind, the monotonous repetition of hand washing dishes can provide the mind a chance to simply think and ponder, or a quiet time to pray and petition. Sometimes our minds are best able to focus when are hands are busy doing work without the mind being needed. Other examples of this can include: hand stitching a piece of clothing, crocheting, knitting, gardening, hanging laundry, etc.
12. Pick Some Flowers – Most of us women love pretty things, and flowers can be a great and inexpensive option to fill the home with beauty and fragrance. If you have a garden that includes flowers, step outside and choose a few to place on the table and brighten the room. If you don’t have a garden, see if an obliging field is nearby and open for visitors. And, if a field is not possible where you live, the next time you are at the store, splurge for a reasonable bouquet and enjoy it while it lasts!
13. Do a Seasonal Activity – At least once a season, try to incorporate an simple activity to enjoy the specifics of that time of the year. In the spring, pick flowers, notice the buds blooming on the trees, hang the first load of laundry on the line, or begin the initial plantings for a garden. In the summer, go strawberry picking, watch the clouds, drink lemonade, make smores, or get outside in the water. In the fall, observe the color changes on the trees, go pumpkin picking, go camping, build an outdoor fire, and/or make pumpkin pie spice EVERYTHING. And, in the winter, enjoy a fire in the fireplace, drink hot cocoa, build a snow man, watch the snow fall, or go sledding.
14. Take Time to Speak Words of Affirmation to Those Around You (Especially your spouse and children) – The act of simply speaking kind words is a double boost for stress relief. First, to do so you must intentionally focus your mind on things that are praiseworthy and admirable (Philippians 4:8). This helps to take icky thoughts that are negative and defeating (2 Cor. 10:5) out of the mind and replace them with positive and affirming thoughts about the people around us. Second, the act of blessing someone else with kind and loving words always makes us feel good, in addition to making someone else feel good. Note: This is a CRITICAL activity to do in the household, beginning with your spouse above all else. If tensions are present between you and your spouse, taking captive the thoughts of the mind in reference to them is a very important skill to learn. Even if you start with something simple like “I love your smile” and gradually move on to seek out things to appreciate, start there. The children are definitely another place to do such an activity, but never neglect the marital relationship in lieu of the parent-child relationship.
15. Stay Home More and Schedule Less – This was a HUGE stress reliever for our family when we began working in ways to live more simply. Simplifying the activity schedule was a significant factor for both my husband and I feeling like we were much more in control of our environment. Having too many things scheduled too often means being out of the house for regular and extended periods of time. Without having a presence in the home, it is easy to fall behind (way behind) on laundry, cleaning, food preparation, sleep schedules and routines, etc. Family functions, church events, group studies, etc. may not be the right kind of “stress relief” for your life, especially when little people are involved. Eventually you will be able to add in a few events here and there, but using wisdom and caution with the frequency of the events and foresight with what is involved in them is important for keeping life simple.
Take Time For You…
No matter which of the above suggestions speaks to you, I hope you try to work in at least one way to live more simply. What other suggestions would you add to the list for ways to live more simply? Share below!