Backpackers and other travelers are really the true minimalists. They carry all they need with them, wherever they travel. Even within this group there are those who are seeing the benefits of taking this to another level and making sure that everything they need fits into one bag. This makes life much simpler. No checking in luggage at airports and then waiting around to pick it up on arrival. One bag minimalism means easy mobility and less stress when travelling.

Getting rid of excess baggage is becoming a real trend, and not only for travelers.   People want to shed what is not needed and experience the freedom of what having less things brings them. The important things you have with you. Today, your mobile phone or laptop can fit into your bag. Life has never been so simple. You are even able to check into your favorite Intertops Classic while on the move.

So why is this shedding of stuff becoming such a trend? People who have gotten rid of a lot of their things and are living a more minimalist lifestyle say they feel freer and happier. There has been a limited amount of research carried out looking into whether there is any correlation between a person’s wellbeing and living a minimalist lifestyle.  It seems that living with less can reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve relationships and enhance your experiences.

The impact of minimalism on relationships

It seems that those living a more minimalist lifestyle have more time for relationships. There has been so much research done on what leads to more happiness.  One important factor that always comes up is relationships and the link between them and wellbeing. It seems that the more positive and richer a person’s relationships are, the more fulfilled, and happy they express to be. Alternatively, those who have few personal relationships or less positive ones tend to be less happy.

A study which appeared in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggested that a person’s relationships are a good indication of their wellbeing and how satisfied they are with life. It seems that more time is available to invest in relationships if you live a more minimalist way of life. With less stuff in your life to deal with, you are able to spend more time on developing important relationships. Living a more minimalist life, with fewer distractions enables you to focus on relationships and connections to others.   

Today, we spend a lot of time on computers and smartphones. Time that we could be focusing on those people around us, especially family members. An inordinate amount of time sees us checking into social media and scrolling or browsing on the internet. That time could be better spent with a friend or loved one. Perhaps it is time to limit our use of our phones and redirect our attention to real people in our environment and to focusing on our relationships.

Minimalism and experiences 

Having a lot of stuff requires a lot of energy. A lot of time is spent selecting, buying and then maintaining those items.  We only have so much time and much of that is taken up in dealing with these things. Therefore, by reducing your possessions and the need to purchase those items and look after them leaves you free to enjoy other experiences.

There is a link between experiences and wellbeing and happiness according to a study carried out by San Francisco State University. They found that the satisfaction felt by someone purchasing a new item disappears fairly quickly while time, money and energy spent on experiences will continue to bring joy even after the end of the experience. The memory of the event produces feelings of happiness and joy. 

There is satisfaction in knowing that you have learned something and enjoyed the experience, like learning to ski, climbing a mountain or visiting some exotic location. The same cannot be said for purchasing an object.   Reduce the energy and money you spend on accumulating objects and concentrate more on doing activities that are satisfying. Living a more minimalist lifestyle you will have less stuff in your life but more meaning and fulfilling experiences.

Minimalism equals lower stress levels 

All our possessions take up a lot of space and need a lot of energy to keep track of them.  In our model world, we have so many commitments taking up our time.  Having to deal with everything causes our stress levels to increase. Having a lot of possessions to look after and maintain causes stress, information overload and fatigue. Getting rid of unnecessary reasons for stress can only be a good thing.

Having so many objects and possessions is likely to cause your brain to overload, with the amount of information it needs to process. This, according to psychologist, Lucy Jo Palladino. On the other hand, sitting by the ocean or visiting a desert like location can reduce stress owing to the lack of visual information. According to Dr. Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University, Chicago, says that disorder or clutter has been found to raise cortisol levels which is responsible for stress. 

Fatigue can be brought on when you are constantly faced with decision making.  This has also been widely studied. The constant decisions of what to buy, what to wear or what to use is increasing your stress levels. By living a more minimal lifestyle you are reducing the need to be constantly making these choices and have more time and energy to concentrate on more important decisions needed and thereby reduce your stress levels.

Minimalism equals less anxiety

Our anxiety levels rise when we are faced with clutter or disorder. Too much stuff makes it difficult for us to focus. A clear and ordered environment enables the brain to work more creatively.  It is also suggested that when the brain is focused on disorder and clutter it is less able for a person to handle pain. The opposite is true for a minimalist environment.

Constant worry leads to anxiety. Having so much stuff means we are constantly worrying about how to deal with them, how to maintain them or how to fix them. With so many possessions it is difficult to keep track of what needs dealing with. We want to be in a state of mind that is calm and free from worry.  When all is in order and working well, we are relaxed and are more able to live productively.

There is an abundance of research about what is needed to live a life of wellbeing. Meaningful relationships, enjoying new and memorable experiences, keep your stress levels manageable and reducing your reasons for worry and anxiety are all part of the package. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle incorporates all of these factors. The benefit of travelling with only hand luggage is not only about the reduced baggage fees.  It will help in moving towards greater levels of happiness.

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