Why Less Stuff Equals Less Stress | Ashley Varner

Why Less Stuff Equals Less Stress

If you feel stressed about something, I can guarantee you that it’s being caused by something you’re THINKING. Not the circumstances in your life or the issues you’re facing. It’s all about your thoughts.

In today’s video, I want to share how the stuff in your life impacts your thoughts and in turn, can contribute to more stress in your life. We’ll get to practical ways you can reduce the stress in your life without your circumstances ever-changing.

Resources Mentioned:

Weekly Reset Workbook (FREE): https://ashleyvarner.com/reset
Reducing Stress with Routines Workbook (FREE): https://ashleyvarner.com/routines-download
The Mindset Reset: https://ashleyvarner.com/mindset

Highlights From the Episode:

If you’re feeling stressed about something, then I can guarantee you that it’s being caused by something that you are thinking. It’s not about the circumstances in your life, it’s not about the issues that you’re facing, it’s all about how you’re interpreting those circumstances.

In today’s video, I wanna share with you how the stuff in your life is contributing to the way that you are feeling as far as your stress levels. And I really wanna share how the things that are in your life, the stuff, the possessions, how that is impacting your thoughts, and how that contributes to your stress. So, we’re gonna talk about practical ways of how you can reduce the stress in your life without your circumstances ever-changing. And we’re going to specifically talk about how the stuff in your life and reducing that stuff is also going to reduce the amount of stress that you’re experiencing. Let’s jump in.

Hey there, my friends, and welcome back to “The Renewed Mind.” I am so glad that you are here. Every month, we have a topic that we discuss, all about taking your thoughts captive and dealing with issues of the mind and emotions, and I wanted to share all of this month about stress because it seems like this is something that we cannot escape from. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what kind of life you live, there’s going to be stress in your life.

I want to share some ways that you can reduce the stress in your life and I wanted to start with this first week off talking about how less stuff can equal less stress. If you’ve been watching my videos for very long or you’ve listened to the podcast, then you know that I teach that all your emotions come directly from your thoughts.

Your emotions aren’t coming directly from your circumstances. Your circumstance, what issue that you’re facing in your life, it’s the thoughts that you have about it that are contributing to the stress levels in your life. And so I wanted to really just talk about the idea of overwhelming thoughts, first off.

Overwhelming Thoughts

So, we have thoughts, like there’s so much to do, there are so many things that are on my to-do list and I want you to start making a mental shift in the way that you’re thinking about all of the things that might be causing stress in your life.

So, the thought of there’s so much to do, I want you to get to the point where you realize and accept as just a mindset shift and perspective that you choose to do everything that you are doing. You never have to do something. You always get a choice.

I like to share this example because I firmly believe that in my life, I don’t do anything because I have to. I do it all because I want to. And this is something that is important because I realized how important it was for me to have this mindset shift to say that I don’t do anything in my life because I have to. I do it because I choose to, because I want to.

I like to give the example of taxes because some people say, well, you have to pay taxes. Well, no, you don’t. You don’t have to pay taxes. I pay taxes because I want to, I pay taxes because I don’t wanna go to jail, I pay taxes because I know that that’s the right thing to do, but if you don’t want to pay your taxes, you don’t have to. Now, there’s still gonna be consequences for what you choose to do and not do, but you could also choose to not make any money, and then you don’t have any taxes that you have to pay, right?

So I want you to start looking at the things in your life and realizing that you are making a choice to do those things. It’s not that you have to, it’s that you are choosing to do those things. Now, the other mindset shift that I wanna share with you is in this idea of overwhelming thoughts is this thought of there’s not enough time. This is something I hear all the time. People who say, well, you know, I’d love to do this or that, but there’s just not enough time.

God has given us, you and me, plenty of time to do the things that He has called us to do. And you might say, well, how can you say that? Because I have all these things that I wanna do, all these things that I have to do and I don’t have the time for them.

Well, I want you to consider Jesus on the cross. And this is something I’ve shared in the past, but it’s so powerful to realize. And that is when He was on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” He said that He had completed all the work that God had called Him to do on this earth. And whenever He passed away, when He died on the cross and then He rose again, He was able to say that with there are still people in the world that were not healed. There were still people in Israel who had not heard the good news, and there were still people who hadn’t been reached, but He was able to say it is finished because His to-do list was synced up with God’s to-do list for Him.

I think that once we get to that point, where we say I know that God has given me this to-do list and He is gonna give me the grace to do all the things that I need to do in this given day so that I can give Him glory.

Now, the last thought that I wanted to share, and this is the idea of there just being overwhelming thoughts, and that is this idea of having a clutter threshold.

We’ve talked a little bit about how you get stressed whenever you don’t feel like you have enough time or you have too much to do, but also the things in your life, the physical actual possessions in your life, can cause you to have thoughts that lead to stress in your life.

Dana K. White from “A Slob Comes Clean” shares this idea of a clutter threshold and she shares how people have different clutter thresholds, where you have a threshold of how much outside stimulation or how much clutter in your life you can handle. And whenever you know that threshold and you kind of get your belongings underneath that threshold, the stress in your life is significantly reduced because of your thoughts about all of your stuff.

Whenever you are having thoughts like this, what I want you to think about it and ask yourself is first, do these thoughts cause added stress in my life? So thinking things like, oh, there’s so much to do. Does that add stress to your life? If the answer is yes, then we need to rethink the thoughts that we’re having because any thought that you have, you have the choice whether or not to think that thought or not. You can take a thought out of your mind and replace it with something else that is gonna be more beneficial to you.

So I want you to ask, does this thought cause added stress in my life? And secondly, does this thought get me where I wanna be? So if you have the thought of there’s not enough time, does thinking that thought actually get you where you wanna be? Does it get you more productive? Does it get you less stressed?

If the answer is no, then you need to get to a place where you are aware of the thoughts that you’re having and then you are using your thoughts to your advantage. So you’re taking out those thoughts that are not appropriate or those thoughts that are not beneficial to you or not helpful to you and switching them out with thoughts, like, I can do everything that God has called me to do, or there are a lot of things to do, but God is going to show me what things that need to be done and what things I can take off of my to-do list. Whenever you change your thinking to thoughts like that, it starts to impact the way that you are feeling as far as stress in your life.


Overstimulated Environment

So the next section that I wanted to talk about, we talked about overwhelming thoughts, now I want to talk about an overstimulated environment. This is specific to this week where we’re talking about less stuff. And what I want you to realize is everything that you see is sending messages to your brain.

If you have an overstimulated environment, that is causing extra work for your brain. And this is something that if you’ve dabbled in minimalism or decluttering, then you know that the more stuff that’s around, that’s more thoughts that are coming and more signals coming to your brain, which leads to different kinds of emotions and really just this overstimulated environment.

Now, if you have been any part of like minimalism or you’ve read books about things like this, then you are probably aware of Marie Kondo’s method. She wrote a book called “The Magic Power of Tidying Up” and she shares a lot, her biggest theory is the idea that all the things in your life need to spark joy in you. So, remember, things do not create emotions, but what they do is things can trigger thoughts in your mind that might lead to certain emotions.

Now, I definitely agree that the things that are around you, this extra stimulation that’s coming in, you want to edit your life, and if you haven’t watched that video, make sure to watch it, but you want to edit your life to the point where you have the things around you that are beneficial to where you’re wanting to go. So if you have specific goals in your life, you wanna have things around you, you wanna have your environment be a place that is leading you towards those goals, that is pushing you towards those goals.

Now, if you, let’s just give an example of a goal if you want to be a better chef but your kitchen is always cluttered and there’s always stuff in there, the thoughts that you’re having about that, you know, sink full of dirty dishes is I don’t wanna be in there, right? It doesn’t feel motivating to you. If you have a nice, clean, organized kitchen, when you get home from work, you’re gonna be excited to maybe experiment with some new recipes or try some new things.

So, see how it’s not the stuff, it’s about your thoughts about it that lead to them. I really want to ask you not just the individual things in your life, if you like the things or if they spark joy in your life, not just the items themselves, but the sheer volume of things in your life.

This is something that I like to go through on a regular basis with my stuff. I go through my bedside table and look through the things that are in there. Especially my closet, I like to look through and make sure I look at each piece of clothing and say, is this something that I’ve worn? Is this something that I enjoy wearing, that fits me well, that I can pair well with other things in my closet? And if it doesn’t, if I haven’t worn it, then I pull it out because it doesn’t need a place in my mind and in my thoughts.

So if I’m constantly looking at this huge closet that is, maybe it’s not even a huge closet, maybe it’s just a packed to the gill’s closet where clothes are just sticking out everywhere and I can’t find what I always wear, that’s not leading me to thoughts that are causing me more peace. If my closet is very, and not even so much minimal, it’s not that I only have like 10 things in my closet, but if I have a closet that is set up to where it’s pleasing to look at, the clothes work well together, they all fit me, then it’s easy for me to try on clothes in the morning and decide and really enjoy the process of getting dressed in the morning.

I want you to see how less stuff can equal less stress based on the thoughts that you’re having about it. Now, my children love to, listen to “Adventures in Odyssey.” It’s a radio program that is created by “Focus on the Family.” And one of the quotes from there, I was listening to with them one day in the car and it was talking about stuff and one of the things that they shared was the more possessions you own, the more your possessions own you. I love this phrase because it really is true. I want you to count the cost of the things that are in your life.

So to give you an example, the KitchenAid mixer, right? All the women several years ago wanted KitchenAid mixers. They’re so pretty and so versatile and all these things. I want you to consider the whole overall cost of this KitchenAid mixer, right? So we have the initial cost of the mixer, we have the attachments, but we also have, maybe you wanted to buy a pretty cover to cover it, think about the cost of the time you spent cleaning it, maybe the time spent feeling guilty whenever you don’t use it, right? The time spent figuring out where to store it if you’re not using it all the time. So think about the added cost of the things that you own. And really, it’s important to realize that whenever you have many things, they end up owning you.

One example that I can share of this is our swimming pool. So a couple in our church, and a couple in our community gave us a swimming pool. It’s an above-ground pool and it’s like 20 by 40, 18 by 40 or something like that, huge pool, my kids love it. It was free to us, but there has still been added cost. We have our time in setting it up, we have the time we spend cleaning it, we put a deck around it, we have a slide for it. All of these added things that now, we have to take care of that pool. So we have to make sure that we have the chemicals, we have to make sure it’s cleaned all the time. And if we don’t do that, we can’t swim in it because it is disgusting, right? The water gets gross. And there are just so many added things that come with owning the pool.

Now we realized that whenever we accepted this gift from them and we were very thankful for it, we enjoy it so much, but we counted the cost before we got it knowing that it was going to incur all this extra time and expense and all of that. So realize that the things that you own, it’s okay if you wanna own things, but realize that the more possessions you own, the more that your possessions are going to be a burden on you, right?


Overestimating the Investment

The last thing that I wanted to share, so we talked about overwhelming thoughts, we talked about an overstimulated environment, and then I want you to think about overestimating the investment. So what I mean by this is sometimes we look at all of the clutter in our lives. We look at all the stuff in our home and we overestimate how much effort it’s gonna take, how much time it’s gonna take to pair down our belongings. And what I want you to see is that this is, one, we often overestimate how long it’s gonna take.

Now, in your life, you did not collect all of the clutter in your life, you did not collect all the stress of this clutter in your life overnight. These are probably things that you have held onto over years and decades. And so what we need to realize is yes, it is going to take some time, this isn’t something that happens overnight or over a weekend of spring cleaning, but this is something that is an ongoing thing.

Once you are able to declutter all your stuff, there’s still a maintenance process that happens. I shared how I routinely go through my closet. Many, many years ago, probably, man, I would say 10 years ago, eight, 10 years ago, I went through my closet and really did a massive pairing down of all the stuff there. I was really ruthless. If it didn’t fit me that day, I was getting rid of it. If I hadn’t worn it in such amount of time, I got rid of it. And I really paired down my things. Now, that happened many years ago. I have bought clothes since then, but I have also maintained that lifestyle, that closet the way that it is so that I don’t continue just collecting and collecting clothes that I don’t use.

So what I want you to see if there is an upfront investment, that time that you spend upfront really getting your life to that clutter threshold that I talked about, but realize that it is an investment. So an investment means that you put in time knowing that you’re gonna get time back or you put in money knowing and expecting to get money back.

Whenever you invest your time in clearing out your space, it is going to result in way more time coming back to you. Sometimes I hear women talk about how it takes like 20 minutes for them to get dressed in the morning. Because I made that investment of cleaning up my closet, because I made that investment of really pairing down my wardrobe, I don’t set out my clothes the day before. I know a lot of people do to save time. I don’t do that because I can choose anything in my closet. It takes me about two minutes to get ready if that every day. That means, like, from beginning to end, trying to decide what to wear and actually putting it on. So I can look at my closet and say, I’ll take this, this, these shoes, and I’m ready to go. That time, think of that every single day. So from 20 minutes down to two minutes. That’s 18 minutes a day that I save in comparison to other women as they’re getting dressed.

I want you to really consider that you’re investing the time up front knowing that it’s gonna come back to you. And then realize that it’s not this huge insurmountable task if you just pair it down to small increments. So if it takes decluttering for 15 minutes a day, if it means starting with five minutes a day, maybe it means starting with the areas where you feel the most stressed. So instead of going to like that spare room that no one ever goes in, don’t start there, right? Start somewhere where you’re gonna see the benefits right away.

All right. That is all that I have for you today. I really hope that seeing these things, the overwhelming thoughts, the overstimulated environment, and overestimating the investment are three areas where you can work on today to have less stress in your life. And then make sure that you join us for the following weeks in this series so that we can learn how to have less stress by really dealing with different mindsets and seeing how that results to change in our daily lives. All right. Thank you for watching and I will see you next time.

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- Ashley Varner

it’s my goal to reach every Christian mom with the truth that God wants to transform their life by renewing their mind.

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