Five ways to simplify your life

When I talk about living more simply, I'm referring to a life with less stress. A life where we strive to strike a balance that works for us, by reducing some of the high-energy and anxiety we are often faced with. We don't need to feel like we have to go-go-go all the time. It's exhausting! We've become accustomed to high-intensity lifestyle.

If you're looking to slow down and improve your mindfulness, here are five ways to simplify your life:


Many of us say yes too much. We agree to help bring our mother-in-law to her doctor appointment, we readily accept hosting baby showers, and we nod hypnotically at that extra assignment our boss dishes out. But learning to say no to some of these things is not only a relief, it’s necessary for our wellbeing. There is this niggling fear that if we say no, we are a bad person, someone won’t like us, or we’ll somehow miss out. It’s important to take a second to check in with yourself when someone asks you a favour. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this? Does it make sense for my schedule?” Doing favours for people is great, but only if it makes sense for you. Don’t feel obligated to squeeze in favours for other people if it’s going to put you out. Try declining every other request someone tosses your way, and watch your stress levels be mitigated.


We’ve become so addicted and clogged down by social media that it’s second nature to reach for our cell phones the moment we open our eyes to check what we’ve missed on Instagram. If my spouse checks his cell phone before rolling over and spooning me in the morning – he’s in for it! Think about it: our lunch breaks are spent catching up on Facebook, and our entire day is threaded with texting a handful of people. By taking one day in your week to shut off your phone and close your laptop you’ll be surprised how much you can get done and just how much you look forward to being unplugged. I do this for one day on the weekend. You won’t die! The world won’t end! Trust me: it is a relief to leave your cell phone at home sometimes. You’ll get those phantom rings in your pocket or purse and know you have a problem. Go for a walk – read a book – do anything but play on your iPad. Looking at those screens all day long is turning us into robots.


The first thing people whine about when it comes to meditation is that they don’t know how to do it. Here is a how-to so I can be certain these complaints are eschewed. Meditating doesn’t need to be sitting down on a fluffy pillow, cross-legged and evacuating your mind. While that can be great, my aunt meditates while gardening, and one of my girlfriends is in zen-mode every time she goes for a run. Change how you think about meditation: meditating is carving out a specific length of uninterrupted time for yourself and your thoughts. No cell phone, no kids poking at you. Just you. It’s great to start your day this way. You can even do it in the bath! I personally use the app Headspace to help me along and keep me accountable, and I highly recommend it if you’re new to meditation and not sure where to begin.


A cluttered home equals a cluttered mind, and the reason our dwellings are often a pigsty is because – we have too many things. Think of how crappy your sleep is when you pass out in a messy room compared to when your room is spotless. Tickle your feel good vibes by donating things you don’t need or want to a nearby shelter or Salvation Army, or even your pals. Start with one room in your house (usually the one that feels like the easiest to tackle, say, your washroom), and go through everything. Duplicates and broken items are the first to go. Create tiny pockets of organization so you know where everything is and so everything has a place. Don’t fall victim to junk drawers, overstuffed closets and don’t hide anything under your bed. As someone who loves to spend money and buy things, it was really helpful to me to learn to save up for an expensive item and really cherish it, instead of buying cheap items and needing to replace them all the time. I just started having too many things and no where to put them. Not knowing where to find something or whether or not you actually have a certain item is just extra junk we don't need in our lives. Once I'm done tidying, I love to sage my space to seal my good intentions.


This one might come as a surprise, but by training yourself to read instead of always reaching for the remote, iPad, or PS4, your triggering your brain’s imagination and giving it a workout. I’m not talking about reading self-help books (while I love those) but a real story for you to get lost in, like one of these – so lost, you have to force yourself to go to bed at night. Twelve books per year is really not a lot (I strive for 30-50) and it can open you up to new interests you never knew you had. Reading requires you to be quiet and still, something our constantly gyrating bodies rarely do anymore, while still processing information and growing attached to characters and plots. You should be dreaming about the books you read and fantasizing about them on your lunch breaks!

Making small adjustments here and there in our day-to-day lives is key to to striving toward simplicity and a more minimal lifestyle. While there are tons of things we can do to lower our stress levels, we need to be easu onWhat are some things that have worked for you to simplify your life?