Unexpected life events are expected to be points of stress within our lives, but did you know that ‘micro stressors’ could be having the same effect on you as larger issues such as divorce, redundancy, moving house or trauma?
They may sound small and insignificant, but micro stressors are only that when seen in isolation. When grouped together, these everyday micro stressors can build up to unmanageable levels and can sap our mental resources.
They’re the smaller things in our lives that pile up to drain us – depleting our resilience, and making it harder for us to go about our daily lives in a good and healthy headspace.Kathryn Wheeler
Micro stressors can be found in the workplace (deadlines, working hours, demands), in your relationships (values, expectations, pressure), and within your own sense of perfectionism. Each of these situations demands potentially unreachable standards and can therefore be the root of cause micro-doses of stress each day.
But, alongside these stressors is your environment. And that’s where minimalism comes.
Although there are often factors beyond your control in some environments you find yourself in (background noise, crowding, bright lights), where you can influence those micro stressors is within your own home.
Clutter is one of the most common micro stressors. It’s a physical manifestation of the problem because it literally builds up over time. Little by little, those piles of papers and messy corners add up until the clean-up operation becomes an overwhelming task. Stressful.
But, in this instance, we’re not talking about the stress of the massive tidying task itself, we’re concerned with the mini piles creating moments of micro-stress every day; A messy shelf catching your eye and nagging you to do something about it. The stacks of unopened paperwork and unread publications weighing down your kitchen table and your mind.
It becomes tiring – exhausting – to think about everything you need to sort out all the time. The to-do list is endless so those micro stressors in your environment become maxi stressors in your life. It’s only natural – evolution has caused us to be stressed by clutter.
Minimalism is such a useful lifestyle if you want to eliminate at least some of those micro stressors from your life. Although you can’t control other people and external environments (so may just need to find ways of coping with those micro stressors when they occur), you CAN tackle your home and remove any stressors there.
At the very least, by living a minimalist lifestyle, you won’t have mess to stress you out. You don’t need to grow your to-do list to extortionate proportions because there’s a place for everything and everything has its place.
Your home environment is organised and calm. It’s easy to keep on top of clutter. You can truly relax when you’re there. Plus, it’s easier to keep clean and tidy too, which is another way to ease stress.
That said, striving for the ‘perfect’ minimalist home is, conversely, a micro-stressor in itself. Try to let go of perfectionism so that it doesn’t become a new source of stress. If you can do this while still embracing decluttering and maintaining a tidy environment, you’ll feel a reduction in those daily mini-stresses – ‘one less thing to worry about.’
Just remember that ‘good enough’ is a more healthy approach than ‘perfect’.
Final thought: Why not try bringing minimalism into your workspace too? A clutter-free desk could equal one less work-related micro stressor and could help you to keep on top of your workload, too.
Wheeler, K. (2021) ‘Common micro stressors and how to tackle them‘ [online] [11th August 2023]. Published 13th October 2021. Happiful. Surrey, UK. Available from: https://happiful.com/common-micro-stressors-and-how-to-tackle-them