Real Life Minimalists: Sofia Reddy

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!

Sofia writes:

aPhoto of Sofia and Nikolas by Enchanted
Moments Photography

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.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Related posts:

  1. Real Life Minimalists: Karen Johnson
  2. Real Life Minimalists: Matt Madeiro
  3. Real Life Minimalists: WellHeeledBlog

18 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Sofia Reddy

  • heather

    Lovely story. Our stories sound very similiar. I wish y’all continued health blessings.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Sofia.

    In my experience, minimalism helps me deals with the stresses of life. Whether is was being bedridden for 6 months, facing major spinal surgery, going through a difficult divorce, or any of the other challenges I’ve faced in the past few years, minimalism has helped. I think that’s because minimalism strips away the unnecessary so we don’t have unnecessary stresses in our life. And then, when the big challenges come along, we’re more prepared to deal with them.

    All the best to you, your husband and Nikolas. He’s a cutie!

  • Wow! It sounds like minimalism really changed your life for the better! It is so wonderful, too, that you have you knowledge of stress therapies to turn to- and that you share them with others! I have a friend whose mother is needing full time supervision. Her own health is beginning to fail now because she is not taking care of Herself, as well as her mother. I am going to check out Sophia’s Sanctuary, and then recommend it to my friend! I think this could really help her. Thanks so much for sharing your story!!

    • Thanks so much Rosa! My passion in life is to help others and I’m definitely encouraging myself every day to keep on practicing the tools I’ve learned that work. I am a big believer in practicing what we teach :-) have a wonderful day!

  • Karen (Scotland)

    What a wonderful story. You really show how minimalism helped clear away the clutter (mental and otherwise) to help you focus on what matters – health and well-being, to start with.
    I am always so shocked when I read about the US systems for healthcare and the poor workers’ rights. I take for granted the system we have here in the UK and I often wonder if we are too “helpful” as a state but when I read stories like this, I realise how lucky and privileged we are in the UK.
    Best of wishes to you for the future.
    Karen (Scotland)

    • Thanks so much Karen! Yes my husband and I often dream of relocating to another country one day. Who knows? I spent a lot of time growing up in Greece with relatives. I see huge differences. I know Greece’s economy is bad but I think there’s a way to find balancing budgets with taking care of citizens. It’s so important for us all to be part of a strong community so we can be healthy and contribute positively to the world. Have a great day!

  • Christopher

    Good for you, Sofia! I wish you and your family continued success, health and happiness. I stopped by and liked your fb site and subscribed to your blog via email. I always appreciate a teacher who has the sense to know they have a lot to learn!

  • Sofia,
    I also blog about self-care! I suffered a mental breakdown last year and had to leave my job. I blog to empower people to take care of themselves so as not to reach the same point I did. I am definitely coming over to visit your blog!
    Bernice
    Does having less stuff make life easier?

  • Caretaker

    Great job Sofia. We can’t control life, but we can control how we manage it. I finished reading Miss Minimalist’s book right before my father passed away. I truly believe that discovering and learning how to live as a minimalist has helped my grieving process. My heart if more free to take care of myself and grieve w/mindfulness. Keep it up. It’s life saving and enriching.

  • Gil

    Beautiful story, Sofia. Thanks for sharing.

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