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Simplifying, Slowing down

The REAL reason you feel so relaxed on holiday (and how to get that feeling year-round!)

Image credit Julian Bialowas

For many of us our annual holiday is the arc of our year. It’s that week or two that we’ve planned all year for. We’ve worked longer hours, saved, and cut back on coffee, all to get away for a bit. And a holiday at home just won’t do. If you stay at home all you get is time off paid work. Surrounded by your stuff you are likely to find yourself drawn to other work.

Your stuff will call you to wash it, fold it, dust it, sort it, fix it. Your stuff holds you hostage and before you know it you’ve worked harder on your ‘holiday’ than you’ve worked all year.

Unless you align with fairly extreme minimalist living, and live alone, you are probably surrounded everyday with up to 300,000 items. But when you get away from your home, whether you are going camping or opting for a more luxurious holiday your environment is devoid of most of your belongings. It’s no wonder you feel relaxed  as soon as that tent goes up or your check-in is complete. 

But what if there was a way we could capture that holiday feeling year round?

I can completely understand why some people choose to move into house trucks or tiny houses. I think there are a myriad of reasons, different for everyone. But I don’t think it’s the tiny space that is appealing at all. I think it’s the what those smaller spaces mean for us. They mean less clutter and asking important questions about the things we will keep to fill smaller spaces.

When we downsize or go on a holiday we are required to make conscious choices about the really useful things we will take with us. We have been gone from our home for almost 3 weeks now and I have a large suitcase (not quite full) of clothes. I have used about 25% of what’s in there. I’ve already sorted through and put aside some items to donate. I brought myself a pair of comfy shorts at the start of summer and I’ve lived in them. Although I haven’t officially taken the 333 wardrobe challenge I’m pretty sure i’d have no problem doing it!

So while I’m not technically on holiday, I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time. I miss my house but I don’t miss the things I need to do to ‘keep’ my house. I miss the space I’ve curated for myself, the garden, and my pets.

So if being on holiday, away from our homes and our stuff makes us feel so relaxed maybe there are some things we can do to mimic the holiday feeling.

  1. You knew where this was going – Declutter! If we can’t get away from our stuff, take some time to consider what stuff we don’t need anymore. It’s been estimated that we only use between 70-80% of the things that take up space in our homes.
  2. Live seasonally. Organise your wardrobe so that you only store your winter items in your wardrobe or drawers during winter. The rest of your clothes could be stored away. This means that everyday you’ll feel like you are living with less.
  3. Consider de-owning and becoming part of a co-op, particularity for big ticket items. Who decided that every single house on every street needed to own a lawnmower? Unless everyone on your street mows the lawns at 7am on Saturday morning maybe you and your neighbors could consider sharing?
  4. Let go of perfect. When you are away from home, whether it’s staying in a hotel or camping, you often let things slide. You become less concerned about whether clothes are picked up from the floor and more worried about what time you’ll be at the beach. So maybe we need to adopt that sense of freedom one day a week (or more) at home. Sit down and read your book instead of putting everything in it’s place.
  5. Take mini-holidays. Go out for the day. It doesn’t even have to cost you anything. Spend a few hours at your local library reading instead of at home. You might be surprised how a break from your things refreshes you. Especially if you are doing the hard work of decluttering but need a break.

We did alot of work to prepare our home for renting out over summer and decluttering and minimizing was a big part of it. But we still have an abundance of ‘things’. This year I plan to tackle more items and spaces because the having less is so enticing. Because now, approaching the fifth decade of my life, I’m figuring out that by having less, I can have more of the things that matter – like time, and freedom. 

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