5 ways to simplify your life + reduce overwhelm

Hi there love,

One clear observation I’ve made lately in my work and personal life is that most of us are almost always feeling overwhelmed.

No matter what.

If you have kids or don’t have kids.

If you’re busy at work or not as busy.

No matter the situation, we always seem to be feeling some sense of overwhelm.

Here are a few reasons I think we’re constantly feeling this:

  • Social media creates a culture in which we are constantly seeing MORE – more things we should buy, more recipes to cook, more places we should visit, more articles we should read. It makes us feel like there is an endless amount to focus on and do.
  • There is an expectation that we stay connected at all times. We feel pressure to return texts, emails, and all other messages coming at us ASAP, which creates very little time for us to have a break.
  • We live in a culture where staying busy is praised. I think deep down, many of us are scared to slow down. What will we do with “downtime”? Will we get bored? Are we being lazy? Are we not reaching our fullest potential?

I believe that in today’s time and culture, we need to actively work at simplifying our lives and reducing overwhelm. We need to protect our health, our sanity, and the enjoyment of our lives.

Here are 5 ways to simplify your life so you can feel more peace, calm, and balance:

1. Simplify your food

With access to the internet, we are bombarded with beautiful food photos and recipes all the time. While this is awesome and serves as inspiration, sometimes it can also overcomplicate food.

As someone who has a busy schedule, I have been trying to keep food a bit more simple lately. While those new recipes may be fun when I have guests over or on the weekends, it feels so nice to keep things super simple during the week.

Lately, it’s been…

Overnight oats or a basic smoothie for breakfast, leftovers for lunch or picking up something in my neighborhood, and a simple protein with veggies and avocado for dinner.

It really can be just that basic!

Here is a simple idea for a weeknight dinner that I made earlier this week and loved:

Roasted veggies + salmon on a sheet pan

  • Place cauliflower chunks, carrots, and asparagus (or any veggies) on foil-lined sheet pans.
  • Dress veggies with oils + spices. Olive oil or coconut oil, and then use salt and pepper, and play around with cumin, curry, or anything else you have on hand.
  • Roast veggies at 425 for about 40 minutes.
  • When there are about 15 minutes left on the timer for the veggies, take one of the sheet pans out, make room for the salmon, and place the salmon on the pan. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Pop the sheet pan back in.
  • Continue roasting until the end.
  • Now your veggies and salmon are done, and you have virtually no cleanup!
  • Add it all to a big plate with some avocado, squeeze lemon over the top, and you’re done.

What’s your favorite simple recipe? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

2. Simplify your closet

This is one I have really taken to heart over the last several years and it has served me so well. I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up several years ago and it really changed my life, and certainly my approach to shopping and the belongings I keep.

One thing I have learned over the years is that when I buy an item I truly, deep-down LOVE, I end up wearing it for years and not tiring of it. But when I buy something that I sorta-kinda love, I end up tiring of it faster and not really wearing it or feeling excited about it.

Now, I only buy things I absolutely love. I shop way less, but when I do, I invest in beautiful clothes that feel great on my body and light me up.

There is also something calming to the mind about opening your closet doors in the morning to clearly be able to see everything you own (and not have things shoved in there, barely fitting) and to have those pieces bring you joy at this current stage in your life.

Another app I have been loving is called Cladwell. It helps you put together daily outfits with what you currently own. I love the premise – get more creative and feel more inspired with what you already own vs. always going out to buy something new!

3. Simplify your calendar

I mean, you guys know I could write a whole post just about this! Your calendar is a HUGE tool for you to organize your life.

The way you spend your time impacts everything, from what you achieve to how you feel on a daily basis. With a little intention, your calendar can be used as a powerful tool to help you feel more calm and grounded.

We all need time to decompress – in most cases, way more time than we are currently giving ourselves.

I suggest starting off by finding two hours per week that are just yours. They could be split up into 15-minute increments, scattered throughout your week, or chunked into a two-hour time slot all at once.

The most important part is to schedule these times in and treat them like an appointment. Write “time for me” on your calendar and hold to it like you would a meeting with your boss. Even if you think you can’t find this time, I challenge you to do whatever it takes to find it. I’ve worked with people who have extremely demanding lives and with a little creativity and out of the box thinking, we’ve been able to create space for them.

During your “time for me”, do anything that helps you feel calm and joyful, allowing yourself some space to decompress.

Over time, play around with your calendar each week. See what helps you feel good. What do you need more of? What do you need less of?

Take a serious stand for your sanity, stress levels, and overall health.

4. Simplify your tech

I think we all struggle with our relationship to technology these days. That Instagram scroll is addicting, huh!?

My best days are when I give myself specific pockets of time to be on Instagram and check email and then I focus on myself the rest of the time.

This helps me stay in my own lane and stay focused on ME, but also use my tech in a conscious way when it’s time.

We tend to turn to Instagram or other social media when we want a mental break from whatever else we’re doing and that’s totally okay. I would say just to try to choose those times and set a limit for yourself. Maybe you let yourself use social media for 20 minutes at lunch, another 20 minutes at that 3:30 pm slump, and another 20 minutes after dinner.

Come up with some boundaries for yourself. Your brain will feel more focused on YOUR life, you’ll be consuming less noise, and you’ll feel more centered and calm throughout your day.

5. Simplify your mind

One thing I am really good at is ruminating. You know, like thinking 1,000 thoughts about something that I have no control over or worrying about the “what ifs” or spending far too much time thinking about the future instead of what’s right in front of me.

You too?

One way to feel less overwhelm is to learn how to train our minds.

My dad is extremely good at this and while I don’t think I will ever be as good as he is, I’ve picked up a lot from him along the way. There have been so many times when I’m spinning my wheels about something, getting myself all worked up, and he has “simplified my thoughts” for me. He brings me back from my own version of crazytown to sanity. He says things like “ok well this is what you CAN control right now” or “what is the point of thinking that way? Where is that getting you?” or “why don’t you focus on THIS right now and you can focus on THAT later”.

It’s so important to take a step back from our thoughts and ask ourselves: Is this thought or thought process worth having right now?

One example of something I see often is that someone will start a new job and immediately overanalyze everything – trying to figure out if it’s the right fit for them or if they’re going to be happy there long-term. But really, you’re probably not going to quit a new job within the first few months anyway, so I like saying to people “why don’t you pick a time, let’s say 6 months from now, that you’re allowed to overanalyze. Let yourself ruminate THEN.”

This can be applied to a new relationship, too. Rather than overanalyzing every detail every single day, tell yourself that you’ll analyze it at the 2-month mark. This allows you to just relax, be present, and enjoy each day as it unfolds.

These are examples of training your mind and taking control over your thoughts. Try to recognize when thoughts are literally not doing anything for you and try to let those thoughts go.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 5 ideas to simplify your life. We live in a crazy time right now, where it is so easy to feel overwhelmed, and it’s important that we work on ways to breathe…and then simplify, simplify, simplify…

I’d love to hear in the comments, did this post resonate with you? What is your best lifestyle tip to reduce overwhelm that’s been helping you lately?

Lots of love!

Jamie

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  1. Trista Johnson says:

    Love this post! It’s like you read my mind- I’m using the fresh start of May as an opportunity to reground in my mindfulness practice… which really starts with simplifying all of the aspects of my life that you’ve outlined here! I especially love what you said at the beginning about how social media “creates a culture in which we are constantly seeing MORE – more things we should buy, more recipes to cook, more places we should visit, more articles we should read. It makes us feel like there is an endless amount to focus on and do.” I know I’ve gotten out of balance when it feels like I am CONSUMING more than I am CREATING.
    Simplifying food is a huge game changer (and money saver!!). I was caught up in trying all the newest food trends or making sure every meal was nutritionally perfect for so long and it’s been refreshing to get back to basics over the last year or so.
    And the clothes… that’s a huge thing for me right now since my body has changed, changed, and changed again over the last couple of years, I have such a range of sizes and styles overflowing my closet and drawers. I’ve been working on weeding out since January and I am also starting to streamline my look. I have an appointment this week with a place that specializes in capsule wardrobes- super excited about that!

    This is a very long comment- but one last thing- my dad is also the one who helps me with my overthinking. Since I was a little kid, he has always said, “Is this a mountain or a molehill?” When I was younger, I hated that because it felt like he was minimizing my feelings, but with time, I’ve learned to recognize that most things are molehills and there’s no need to get upset!

    Thanks Jamie!!

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