The title above is a line from a OneRepublic song called, “Someday”, released on their 2021 album called Human. The phenomenon of this burden reflects a cluttered physical space and mental and emotional landscape. Pursuing possessions and constantly acquiring objects have given rise to a culture where the accumulation of material goods equates to success and happiness. However, as one delves deeper into the implications of this behaviour, it becomes evident that this pursuit often leads to an overwhelming burden that affects our progress.
Our culture promotes the idea that possessions bring fulfillment and happiness. Advertising, social media, and societal norms emphasize the need for the latest. This unceasing pressure to keep up with trends leads to constant dissatisfaction. As we amass stuff, we find ourselves in a perpetual cycle where the desire for another immediately replaces the pursuit of one item. In this cycle, the initial excitement of ownership diminishes quickly, leaving nothing but emptiness.
The accumulation of possessions takes a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. The weight of unnecessary possessions can become a mental burden, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety. The physical clutter accumulating in living spaces can symbolize the chaos and clutter within the mind. Sorting through belongings, making space for new items, and maintaining an ever-expanding collection requires a mental effort better spent on pursuits that genuinely contribute to personal growth and fulfillment.
Counteracting the detrimental effects of drowning in unnecessary possessions requires a shift in perspective and values. Adopting minimalism, a lifestyle emphasizing the importance of having fewer possessions and focusing on what truly matters can provide a way out of this cycle. Minimalism encourages individuals to evaluate their priorities, seek meaningful experiences over material goods, and free themselves from the burden of excess belongings. By intentionally curating our possessions and making mindful choices about consumption, we can rediscover a sense of clarity, purpose, and contentment.
Here are five tips that have helped me in my journey to removing the unnecessary and non-essentials from my life.
The chaos of constant clutter in our space competes for our attention and affects mental focus. Mess in our surroundings occupies the mind and blocks our ability to process and make decisions. Start small, give yourself a finite amount of time to complete the task, and divvy up your sorted items into three piles:
- Give away,
- Throw away, and
Once you have completed a small project, check in with yourself and ask, “How did this make me feel?” This exercise was fitting for you if purging and organizing were cathartic.
More than ridding your place of physical items, consider your media/social media intake. How many hours have you logged on the phone today? This daily intake of sensory information adds brain clutter that affects your mental health by increasing depression and episodic anxiety. Monitor your usage and watch for content that can be triggering. Take breaks and substitute them with reading mindful content.
Talk to someone
If you are mentally overloaded, talk to a loved one, be it your spouse, a friend, family, a licensed therapist, or a life coach – someone older and wiser who listens attentively and reflectively. Unloading your thoughts can help you gain perspective clarity and lighten your burden.
Write it down
When you cannot solve a problem in your mind, the next logical step is to write it down. Writing down your concerns, thoughts, and emotions helps you identify and understand them better. Putting it into words on paper or a word processor allows us to gain insight, which helps us to work through them—releasing thoughts and emotions from our mind and putting it onto paper. Like talking, it’s a tremendous purgative exercise that removes the stress of things.
The daunting to-do list occupies much space in our mind. Not knowing where to start, we dump our list onto paper. But what to tackle first? Prioritize in order of importance. If you find everything you jot down important, break it down even further. Identify what is urgent by how significant the consequences are if you were not to do it—for instance, taking medication, making a necessary appointment, or meeting a project deadline that could mean the life or death of your job. From there, start assessing the value of other items, and those that align with your life goals should be next.
We’ve all heard about the advantages of exercise for our physical health, such as weight management and cardiovascular fitness. But it is also a powerful tool for enhancing memory and cognitive function. Here are some things I have learned from medical and fitness experts across the globe.
Exercise plays a critical role in reducing insulin resistance. When our bodies become insulin-resistant, it becomes challenging for cells to use glucose effectively. This resistance can negatively affect brain health and cognitive function.
Medical professionals have linked chronic inflammation to cognitive decline. They have shown that exercise reduces inflammation, protecting your brain from harmful inflammatory processes.
Exercise promotes the release of growth factors, contributing to the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. This process can enhance your cognitive abilities.
When we work out, our brain releases endorphins, often called “feel-good” hormones. These endorphins can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving our overall emotional well-being. Stress and anxiety can devastate cognitive abilities, decreasing focus and absentmindedness. Physical activity triggers the release of cortisol, stress-reducing hormones. Exercise helps alleviate stress and enhances our mental elasticity in stressful situations.
Brain “fog,” as it’s well known, is the inability to think straight and pull from our short-term memory. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our brain cell’s communication, leading to mental gaps. A good night’s sleep is crucial for memory and cognitive function. Regular exercise can help regulate our sleep patterns, making falling and staying asleep easier. Improved sleep quality can significantly impact our ability to think clearly and remember things. An excellent start to decluttering our mind is restful sleep.
The sensation of drowning in the weight of things one doesn’t need reflects the modern consumerist culture. The relentless pursuit of possessions often results in an unfulfilling cycle of accumulation, dissatisfaction, and clutter. The toll on mental well-being and the environment highlights the urgency of evaluating our relationship with material goods. Embracing minimalism offers an alternative path, allowing us to shed the unnecessary and focus on a life enriched by experiences, meaning, and conscious choices. Ultimately, the accurate measure of wealth and well-being lies not in the number of possessions we have but in the quality of life we live.