Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
Today we hear from Sofia Reddy, who tells us how minimalism has helped her through a challenging time in her life. Please visit her blog to learn more!
This last year has been the most stressful year of my adult life. I felt so blessed to have so many wonderful new beginnings in 2008 – I married the man of my dreams, had a beautiful baby boy, Nikolas (pictured with me), started a new job at the Veteran’s Health Administration as a clinical social worker, and we had just bought our first home together the year before. I felt like we were on track with making all of our dreams a reality.
In 2009, around Nikolas’s 1st birthday, my husband, Mark, got sick and lost his job of 15 years after using up his three months of sick leave. After that he was out of work for 1 ½ years; there were many days I had to take sick leave to rush home to attend to him and Nikolas. Suffice it to say we were beyond stressed out. We had used up all of our financial resources and were contemplating selling the house (at a loss) and moving south where it’s cheaper. We had dreams of starting over. We thought maybe we’d have better luck down there, but the potential job never came through.
It was around this time that I started reading the miss minimalist blog and learned the importance of downsizing as much as possible. With the possibility of us needing to leave our home we decided it was time to go through each room and clear out all of the clutter that accumulated in just three short years of living here. We donated bags upon bags and boxes upon boxes of items to Big Brothers Big Sisters and it felt great! I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders.
We also looked at every bill we had and brainstormed ways to cut expenses. For example, we changed auto insurance policies and used the same one for both our cars. We also switched cable providers, which ended up cutting our bill in half. We sat down and revised our grocery-shopping habits to buy items that we used and only stocked up on those that are non-perishable when they were on sale or had coupons. We stopped buying new stuff to try and stuck with the items we knew we’d use. We also were lucky and had the opportunity to refinance with Obama’s home affordability program, which saved us hundreds per month. Despite all these changes that helped us stay in our home, my stress levels were still increasing and my health was deteriorating.
What’s ironic is that I actually specialize in treating stress and anxiety disorders in my work as a mental health therapist. I quickly learned that I needed to put into practice what I was teaching my clients. I also learned that just because I’m a therapist, doesn’t mean I’m immune to the stresses of life. I started therapy myself and have been going as often as I need it. I also started going to yoga classes and participating in acupuncture treatments, which have been helpful in keeping my stress to manageable levels. I’ve made it a priority to spend quality time with my son and husband, but to also remember that I need time for me.
I was inspired to start a blog, www.sofias-sanctuary.com, devoted to self care strategies for busy people. I also maintain a Facebook page called Sofia’s Sanctuary and have gotten a lot of positive feedback regarding the self-care strategies I post. I remind others and myself regularly about the importance of self-care in maintaining health and vitality.
I think minimalism goes hand in hand with self-care. The less we are consumed by our outer world and all the material things of life, the more we can have energy and health to focus on what really matters: love, peace and healthy relationships with ourselves and with each other.