A minimalist mid-century modern room with a pile of papers and and oversized medication bottle on the end table.

The Minimalist Lifestyle and Rheumatoid Arthritis

The minimalist lifestyle has really taken off in recent years. From the phenomenal organizing ideas of Marie Kondo to simplistic “tiny” homes, it seems the minimalist lifestyle has something to offer everyone. But what about those of us with rheumatoid arthritis? Can we benefit from embracing the principles that the minimalist lifestyle has to offer? Is it possible to live a minimalist lifestyle when you have a medicine cabinet full of bottles and drawers full of aides?

The minimalist lifestyle: what does it mean?

The basic principle of what it means to live a minimalist lifestyle are pretty easy: live with less. Those who commit to this lifestyle say that it brings them more peace, less stress, and an overall more fulfilled life. Well, can’t go wrong there, can we?

Benefits of choosing a minimalist lifestyle

I’ve committed to this idea of minimalism in my own way over the past year. I’ve slowly, bit by bit, done my best to streamline everything from kitchen gadgets to clothing. For example, do I really need 4 spatulas? Isn’t that just more to store, clean, and keep up with? Once you commit to the ideas, the benefits of this lifestyle quickly become clear. I find myself with a less cluttered workspace and a clearer vision of what I really “need.”

Can a minimalist lifestyle be beneficial to RA?

But what about life with RA, can minimalist lifestyle choices make my life with rheumatoid arthritis better? My answer is a resounding yes! When you live with RA, energy is at a premium and each little bit of it becomes precious. And let’s face it, have a great deal of “stuff” requires a ton of energy to keep up with. Keeping “everything” clean alone takes a huge amount of precious time and energy. Not to mention the ever-growing todo list that comes with a life filled with stuff. Simply put, less stuff equals more energy, one of my main goals of life with RA.

Obstacles to a minimalist lifestyle with RA

Making minimalist lifestyle choices with RA just would not be complete without its own set of unique obstacles. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to always add that little feature to every element of our lives.

  • There are certain “cluttery” things that we just can’t live without - our meds, piles and piles of paperwork, and closets full of pain relief methods. That’s okay. A minimalist lifestyle isn’t about having “nothing”; it is about keeping mainly the things you need, and getting rid of all the extra periphery things.
  • Taking the steps to get to a minimalist lifestyle requires some initial effort and time. The amount of time it takes a person with RA to go through their clothing is about twice as long as everyone else. But that is okay! Small steps, taken slowly and intentionally, add up to big changes.
  • Be aware of the emotional effects of life with RA. Sometimes if we experience depression or anxiety as part of our RA, decluttering things can feel like a very daunting and overwhelming task. Do your best to look at the emotional effects of life with RA and examine how it might be affecting your lifestyle choices.

Tips for achieving the minimalist lifestyle with rheumatoid arthritis

Enlist help

Depending on your friends, family, or financial situation you may be able to enlist some help to move certain decluttering projects along. You’d be surprised at the amount of people willing to help SOMEONE ELSE get rid of all their excess stuff.

Create a plan

No one knows how to make things happen in your life with RA better than you. Create a plan that is realistic for YOU. Prioritize the areas that matter most to you and tackle them when you are having a “good” day, a little at a time.

Listen to your body

This, my dear friends, is key. If you feel tired, rest. If you are feeling good and are energized getting everything in order, then party on. Make your RA body the priority and things will get done on their own timeline.

Use the available (free) resources

The lovely world wide web, YouTube, Pinterest, and even your local library is overflowing with information about how to intentionally go about creating a minimalist lifestyle. Use these free resources for guidance, tips, and inspiration. Use these FREE resources. Taking these steps should lead to a more debt-free, clutter-free life, not the other way around. Pick and choose the methods that work for you and your lifestyle. Make everything work for what you need.

Minimalist lifestyle choices with rheumatoid arthritis

When it comes down to it, even though I’ve been working on it for a year (for a family of 5 no less!) this lifestyle for me and my family is a work in progress. But that is okay. Do what works for you and I promise, once you really take a close look at what you actually need, you will find that your life with RA will be a hundred times better if you start making minimalist lifestyle choices.


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