Cut the Stress, Simplify Your Life
If stress is wearing you down, take some advice from those who have left their stress behind -- simplify your life.
Simplicity Movement Taking Hold continued...
Simplifying your life doesn't necessarily mean doing without.
It might, but it doesn't have to. Rather, the prevailing philosophy of today's
voluntary simplicity movement is not to live without possessions or to live in
frugality, but to slow down and live a more balanced, deliberate, and
thoughtful life. And as research increasingly shows, a healthier life as
It's no longer news that stress can take its toll on both your
physical and mental health. Numerous studies have shown a link between stress
and high blood pressure. In one such study, for example, scientists at the
University of California at Irvine reported in 1998 in the Journal of
Psychosomatic Medicine that men with highly stressful jobs had systolic and
diastolic blood pressure readings that were approximately 10 points higher than
those with less stressful jobs.
In a study published in 2000 in the journal Social Science
& Medicine, researchers from Ohio State University and the University
of Alabama found that people with a high ratio of credit card debt to income
were in worse physical health than those with less debt.
Too Much 'Stuff' Takes Its Toll
And now, mental health professionals have joined the movement,
focusing on how simple living can help alleviate tension-related reactions such
as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, neck and shoulder spasms, chronic fatigue
and, says Roderic Gorney, MD, PhD, "our excessive dwelling on
"The message that we get is that without this complexity of
'things' in our life, we are not lovable and not worthy," says Gorney,
clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of The Human Agenda,
who also serves on the board of Seeds of Simplicity, an LA-based program of
Cornell University's Center for Religion, Ethics & Social Policy. The
organization has recently started a campaign called "Unstuffocate," to
help people decide for themselves just how much is enough.
The mental health community's awareness of such dependencies as
"consumption addictions" led UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute to
recently sponsor a conference on "Mental Health and Simple Living:
Countering the Compulsion to Consume." The purpose of the conference, says
Gorney, was to "help the person shake off the addiction to too much, and
with it the distress of excess."
Just acknowledging that you need to simplify your life,
however, doesn't solve the problem, although it is a beginning. You may be so
crunched for time and energy that you can't even stop to think of ways to
simplify your life. Let the experts give you a few suggestions.
It's Time to Disconnect
"Many people feel stressed and overwhelmed because they are
'overconnected,'" says Debra A. Dinnoncenzo, president of ALLearnatives,
which specializes in alternative work arrangements. "As a result of the ...
never-ending ways that people can access us any time of the day or night, we
feel perpetually connected to our work," says Dinnoncenzo, also the author
of Dot Calm: The Search for Sanity in a Wired World.