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Downsizing: Living with Less and Loving It

The Upside of Downsizing

Moving is ranked as one of the most stressful life events—along with divorce, loss of a job and loss of a loved one. It’s an intensely emotional experience that can be filled with hope, disappointment, excitement and anxiety.

When you’re in the process of moving to senior living, the idea of packing and sorting through a lifetime of belongings can feel daunting. But there are many benefits of downsizing or “rightsizing.” Downsizing doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything you love—it means focusing on the things that maximize your joy. By keeping only your favorite things, you have many more opportunities to enjoy the things you love and use the most.

10 Positive Benefits from Downsizing

  1. Gives you more control over your space
    Downsizing is about more than purging the items you don’t need anymore. It’s about creating a simple, curated space that puts you in control.
  1. Simplifies cleaning
    Living with less makes cleanup faster and less stressful—especially as age and mobility can make cleaning more challenging. The fewer things you own, the fewer things you have to clean.
  1. Helps others
    By donating furniture, appliances and other household items you’re not using anymore, downsizing can benefit your family—and your community. Being proactive about retirement planning also helps take the task off your loved ones down the line as your care needs change.
  1. Saves money
    The more possessions you have, the more hidden costs. Being intentional with your spending gives you more leeway to spend on quality items and experiences.
  1. Reduces clutter and stress
    The accumulation of clutter can be overwhelming, making it more difficult to relax—both mentally and physically. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology shows that clutter creates a feeling of chaos that negatively impacts your overall well-being.
  1. Saves time
    Downsizing helps you save time searching for and maintaining things you don’t need so you have more time to enjoy what you love.
  1. Provides more flexibility
    A low-maintenance lifestyle fosters freedom, flexibility and independence.
  1. Enables more creativity
    Downsizing creates an environment for creativity. By living with less stuff in a smaller space, you have more opportunities to use or display your items in a unique way.
  1. Increases your positivity
    Studies have shown that people experience more positive emotions when they downsize than when they own more material objects.
  1. Enhances awareness and mindfulness
    Embracing simplicity helps raise awareness of your values and what is important to you. Downsizing allows for self-reflection, self-awareness and mindfulness.

Shifting Your Mindset About Downsizing

Adopting a simpler lifestyle gets easier the more you practice it. To make a sustainable change, you must shift your mindset. It’s normal to accumulate things as you go through life. We all hold onto things for a multitude of reasons. Whether it’s a family heirloom, a gift from a loved one or a bookcase full of books, we can’t hold onto things forever.

Contrary to what you may think, downsizing is more than just throwing stuff away. It’s an opportunity to sell or donate items to other people who need them and share beloved gifts with your family and friends.

Here are some of the most common reasons people keep things—and ways to address them.

“I might need/want it someday.”

More often than not, you don’t need it and won’t use it. Why does it need to take up mental and physical space in your home? For example, how many times have you bought new clothes only to have them sit untouched in your closet with the tags on?

“That cost a lot of money.”

You need to be realistic about the value of your stuff. That item may have been expensive a long time ago, but it has probably depreciated, even if it still looks new. If you do have quality collectibles or heirlooms, it may be helpful to hire an appraiser, take them to a consignment shop or gift them to family and friends.

“It’s still good.”

If you don’t have a purpose for it, you don’t need to keep it. Just because it still works doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe. For example, if you or a loved one is a fall risk, then moving a glass coffee table into a senior apartment is not practical.

“It was a gift.”

Just because someone gave you something doesn’t mean you must keep it forever. You can still recognize your memories of that gift and that person without holding on to it.

“It was in my family.”

Sometimes keeping family memorabilia doesn’t make sense in your new space. Just because something came from family, doesn’t mean you must keep it if it doesn’t work for you. Take a moment to document your feelings about the item—maybe even take a picture of it. Then let it go to a new home so someone else can enjoy it. If it’s important to you to keep it in the family, now is a good time to pass it to a new family steward and share its story so that they understand its family history as well.

Downsizing Opens New Possibilities

Remember, downsizing is bittersweet. It’s a big change, and it’s normal to mourn. Acknowledge your feelings and remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish. Yes, you’re saying goodbye to a phase in your life, but you’re also on the brink of a new phase full of exciting possibilities and new beginnings.

If the prospect of downsizing seems too overwhelming to you, we understand, and we’re always here to help. A Belmont Village Senior Living Family Advisor can connect you with an experienced move management company that specializes in helping seniors plan, organize, pack and get settled in their new homes.