Simple Living and Minimalism with Chronic Illness

Simple Living and Minimalism with Chronic Illness

I’ve been reading a lot about simplicity and minimalism (the way of life, not the aesthetic) because I’m inspired by the idea that I can have more energy and time to do what I want and need to do. Every list I’ve found of why be minimalist or why declutter lists having more time and energy, whether because you’re paring down your schedule to the essentials or having to clean less. This promise appeals to a lot of people, because who doesn’t need more time and energy? However, people with disabilities arguably need these the most. Time to recover and energy to get up and start to do the things we want to accomplish in life.

Courtney Carver of and originator of Project 33 is particularly fascinating to me because she draws on her own experience with physical illness to describe why she pursues minimalism in all areas of her life and how it’s helped her. I particularly respect her for talking about how needing less stuff and house means she was able to leave her job which was exacerbating her illness.

However, my own experiences are also the limits to these lifestyles and these promises. For someone with physical disabilities, you can’t just cut out TV or aimless internet surfing and suddenly get ten hours back to their week to do more important things. Often, there is nothing more important than laying on the couch or in bed recovering from a flare up or a stressed-out system, and they can’t be avoided. Cutting out TV doesn’t cut out this need. It’s like telling people who don’t have enough money to make rent on time that they can save thousands by cutting out their daily latte habit. Completely unhelpful and impractical.

Simplifying does make sense in other ways for people with disabilities. Less home to clean is always going to be a good idea, if plausible. Cleaning is a huge source of stress on my skeleton and not the good kind. It’s not making me stronger. So less worrying about cleaning is a great idea and I’ve found living in a small apartment and having small piles of laundry to do is helpful. However, having a partner who does the floors so I don’t have to and an in-unit laundry machine is a whole lot more significant.

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