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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Did you know that the average woman spends close to 400 hours a year shopping? This accounts for 8.5 years spent shopping during a typical lifespan. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to shop, but perhaps we need to stop and ask ourselves at what point can this obsession become unhealthy?

We have become so reliant on the feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes with the rush of a new purchase that we tend to lose focus on what truly matters. The idea behind minimalism is to break away from typical consumer culture. It’s a tool that can assist you in finding freedom from fear, worry, and guilt. As you allow yourself to lose attachment to inanimate objects, you will no longer feel like a prisoner in your own home (and I bet you don’t even know you feel this way yet).

Here are five of many benefits of living with less:
1. Save money: Buy less, save more, and you will be rewarded with financial freedom.
2. Relieve stress: Ever had to buy stuff just to store stuff? Save yourself the hassle.
3. Improve productivity: Clear space = clear mind = clear focus. Enough said!
4. Help the environment: Consuming less contributes to less environmental damage.
5. Own quality items: The key here is quality over quantity. Only own what you value.

See this photo? This is a perfect example of how you too can start creating a minimalist lifestyle within the very walls of your own home, wherever that may be for you. But first, let’s talk about it!

Here are three simple steps to start living with less:
1. Write it down: Start with the why? List three significant reasons why owning less stuff and becoming more productive can help make you happier. For me personally, starting this journey towards minimalism began due to the overwhelming stress I felt when I couldn’t fit my personal items (not including furniture) into my car, since I move at least twice a year while in school. For you, it may be as simple as watching less TV to spend time with your family, or owning fewer pillows to spend less time making the bed in the morning!

2. Prepare for the Purge: No, not like the horror film. Although at first you may find this experience scary, we’ll start slow. Start by laying out each item of clothing and remove any duplicates you have. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in the last year, it’s time to donate it. Apply this same method to other areas, including shoes, makeup, jewelry, and knickknacks. Remove anything you aren’t absolutely in love with, and remember, quality over quantity is better

3. Live Deliberately: Not every aspect of minimalism is about reducing physical possessions. This act is only the start towards something much bigger. Living more deliberately means finding purpose in what you do and even the things you say. Don’t wander about your day aimlessly. This requires some mental effort initially, but soon you won’t even have time to think about the past, will be living in the present, and will be aiming for a future you can truly value and love.

I fully respect that everyone reading this may fall on different ends of the scale in terms of just how minimally you want to live. Some of you may have just wanted to know what minimalism is all about, and that’s okay too! But for those of you who are interested in starting this highly satisfying, rewarding, and liberating experience, I also recommend trying this 30-day minimalism challenge to get started. I promise you won’t regret it!


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