I like the simple things in life. I do not like to be busy. As I approach my 50th birthday I am trying to disentangle myself from society’s expectations and the associated stressors.

Let me tell you: stepping away from ‘everyday life’, as most people know it, is not easy. Little-by-little I am trying to move towards a lifestyle with fewer and fewer responsibilities which can  be managed easily and are unlikely to have a negative effect on my overall well-being.

To make my life a bit simpler I have resolved to:

Stop shopping – a quick stop at a shop for essentials, like food and toiletries, is the most time I spend ‘shopping’. Shopping as a leisure activity is not on my list of things to do. I actively avoid shopping by raiding my wardrobe regularly in order to ‘wear out’ my existing clothes. I try to have a ‘Buy Nothing Day’ at least one day a week.

Watch less TV – I can binge on catch-up TV when I have a bit of time to sit and watch something that I really want to see – anyone else love rainy days and Doctor Who marathons?

Think ‘little and often’ when it comes to household chores – household chores are completed on a specific day of the week to spread the workload – for example, ironing is done on Wednesdays.

Let it go – if I don’t get to complete chores, like ironing, on the allocated day then I let it go until the following week. Trying to catch-up defeats the purpose of having a schedule and causes me to feel stressed and resentful of the tasks that encroach on my free time.

Remember what works for me – cooking from scratch, commuting to work, having a fancy new phone every year – none of these things worked for me. For a while I tried to cook from scratch and bake my own bread, but I did these things because it seemed like other people were doing it and I thought that I should too. All of the time, effort and money spent on these pursuits seemed to have little positive impact on my well-being so I stopped cooking and baking. Now I eat simple meals that need little cooking and buy fresh bread from the local baker. My current job pays less than my previous job, but since I can walk to work I am OK with that. My phone lives at the bottom of my handbag and is largely unused (I send the occasional text) so I won’t need a new one for a while. My choices work for me because my lifestyle far less demanding.

Relax and enjoy – Set aside time to relax. I take time to enjoy my breakfast everyday and I go to bed with a book by 8pm every night.

In answer to the question ‘How are you?’ I like to answer ‘All quiet’, as in my day has been quiet and peaceful, or my life has been very quiet lately. Many people seem to answer ‘How are you?’ with proud boast of  ‘Busy, busy, busy…’ but I can’t think of anything worse.

©SD Wheelock


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