Jun 23, 2020 | Simple Living | 0 comments

My focus has been on living a simpler life for 3 years, and I’ve been surprised by how much living a simple life is good for my mental wellbeing.

My husband and I used to be deep in the matrix, both of us living busy lives. He was caught up in his high flying corporate career, and I was running an inner-city boutique Pilates studio. Our pace was hectic and demanding, which at the time we thought we loved. It wasn’t until we moved to Tasmania to be closer to hubby’s ageing father that we discovered the beauty of a quieter, simpler life.

It was easy to live simply in a place like Tasmania. It seemed that everyone was more interested in enjoying a slower pace. Pursuing a life filled with art lessons, sailing, bushwalking and the company of other people. All of this, instead of focusing on earning more money and status. Don’t get me wrong – people in Tassie saw the importance of money, but they didn’t make attaining it the centre of their lives.

The decision to return to Brisbane and to city life after my Father In Law died was not an easy one to make. But I made a promise to myself that I would continue to live a simpler life, even in the big city.

Making the transition hasn’t been smooth, but what I’ve learnt is that living a simple life in the city is not impossible. 

Here’s what I’ve learnt about how living a simple life is good for my mental wellbeing.

 

Making Human Connections For Mental Wellbeing

I wrote a post about what living in Tasmania taught me about living an authentic life. In it, I talk about the need to factor in time to talk to people every time I left the house. This is one of the things I miss the most about the slow life in Tassie. People are interested in you and want to connect with you. Not so much in the city…

But I have refused to let this wonderful trait of living a simple life go. I stop my neighbours for a quick chat whenever I see them in the street. I think at first it freaked them out a little, but now they will stop at my front gate if they see me in the courtyard and we will spend a few moments catching up.

I also make time to talk with shop assistants. When I first returned to Brisbane, I would surprise the retail assistants by returning their greetings and enquiring how their day was going. I could see the shock in their faces!

 

How it’s helped my mental wellbeing:

Human connections are vital to our positive mental health, especially if you’re an introvert. No person is an island.

  • Making small connections with people every day gives me a sense of connection and belonging, which is vital when living in a big city.
  • It makes me feel good to show other people (like retail assistants, who cop a lot of negativity throughout their day) that they’re important. If you want respect, you have to show it. What does it hurt me to spend a few moments enquiring about another person’s day?

More Time For The Important People

In our life before moving to Tasmania, we were always busy. My husband worked business hours while I lived the life of a fitness professional, working early mornings and late evenings. All of this meant there wasn’t a lot of time for us to spend together, making deeper connections. And if you throw in the fact that I’m an introvert who spent all day talking, and was “peopled out” by the time I got home – you get the picture.

Living a simpler life means we are more considered in the way we spend our time. We understand now how important it is to spend time together, talking and sharing with each other. So instead of always choosing to be working, we set time aside that is only for us. 2 evenings a week and every Sunday are non-negotiable family times.

How it’s helped my mental wellbeing:

I feel a deeper connection with my husband. And I look forward to our family time because it’s a chance to relax with the one person in the world that I’m able to be completely free with. It’s good for my heart and my soul, and it’s beautiful to connect and feel loved.

Room For More Creativity

When we lived in Tasmania, I had so many opportunities to explore my creativity that I never experienced living in the city. I joined a pottery co-op, I was part of a Saturday morning painting group, and I was forever going to DIY workshops in town. When we moved back to the city, I was determined to continue exploring my creativity. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many opportunities for collaborative creative pursuits in Brisbane, unless you want to spend a lot of money on art lessons, so I’ve had to improvise.

I’ve turned to books and YouTube to learn new crafts and provide an outlet for my creativity. I’ve chosen to decorate our inner-city home with plants and things that I’ve created, rather than go the route of store-bought cookie-cutter home decor.

How it’s helped my mental wellbeing:

Taking time to create things for my home has had a substantial positive effect on my mental wellbeing.

  • Many crafts like macrame and pottery are meditative and allow my mind time to rest.
  • Learning new things and working with my hands creates new neural pathways in my brain, which is good for my long term memory.
  • The sense of accomplishment I feel when I look at something I’ve created sitting on a bookshelf or hanging on a wall gives me a little spike of happiness.

How Can Living A Simple Life Help Your Mental Wellbeing?

Choosing to live a simple life in a big city is not the easiest thing to do, you will spend a lot of time swimming against the tide. While it can be tiring at first, the benefits to your mental wellbeing in the long term will be immeasurable.

My advice would be to start small.

  • Take an hour or two from your busy schedule and dedicate it to spending time at home with your family.
  • Or choose one craft or creative pursuit that you’ve always wanted to try and spend a few hours on the weekend pursuing it. Set no expectations on yourself except to enjoy the process.
  • And if you feel that suddenly bailing up your neighbours for a chat at the letterbox won’t be well received, maybe try smiling at one person on the bus, or a shop assistant, or waving at a neighbour as they drive past.

Start slowly, ease your way into it and allow yourself to enjoy the journey.

After tasting how good living a simple life can be, I encourage you to try it for yourself.

 

Some Resources To Help Your Mental Wellbeing

If You feel you need a little help with how you’re feeling right now, these resources may be useful to you.

Health Direct. Government mental health resources for Australians

Black Dog Institute.

Mental Health Europe

Mental Health America