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Leaving the McMansion for the Small Life

Leaving the McMansion for the Small Life
Small House

    Natives to pastoral areas know what it looks like. What was once a pasture with cows now looks like a small village — only the homes are anything but small. These McMansions are often well over 4,000 square feet large with plenty of luxury amenities for the average sized family. Interestingly, these mega-homes may not be all the rage in our future suburban landscapes.

    The Star Ledger, one of New Jersey’s leading papers, is reporting an emerging trend away from the huge-home-mindset and towards luxury apartment living. It turns out that life matters; when you have a huge home that requires lots of maintenance, some of the other important things in life can take a back seat. These might include: spending time with your spouse, your kids or investing in friendships that will last far longer than a house. The larger the home, the more it takes to keep it running in terms of financial resources and time spent keeping things up. One starts to wonder, “Do I own my house or does it own me?” This may be why more and more people are opting for small.

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    The other aspect of smaller living is the reality that small might actually add to your quality of life. I realize that a large family does require more space but for the rest of us, small just might do. Here are some benefits to owning a smaller home:

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    • Less space forces you to make decisions more often. When you don’t have a walk-in closet, there’s very little space for procrastination. Rather than hide clothes in a pile in the large closet, your small storage spaces challenge you to make a decision: put it away, do the laundry, fold it, etc.
    • Less space allows you to know what you have. When you can see what you have, you’re less likely to buy something that you already have.
    • Less space promotes family communication. Living in closer proximity to your loved ones means that you’ll see them more often and share little interactions that a larger home might not afford.
    • Less space allows for simpler decorating. Since more “stuff” around the house makes it feel smaller, a streamlined home encourages simpler style. Avoid small items, breakables and tiny collectibles and opt for items which will last, are durable and are stylish in their own right.
    • Smaller spaces encourage contemplative living. I know — this is a bit of a stretch but my home (which I consider to be on the smaller side) is something which I know, inside and out. I know every corner of it, all of its idiosyncrasies and finer points. My kids and I also get to work around the house together which is great for family bonding. Whenever you get to appreciate and know something well, a spirit of contemplation gradually grows.

    Living in a larger home is not something to scorn but opting to live in a smaller home certainly makes a statement. It teaches you to appreciate space, possessions and challenges you to make-do with what you have. Would you like to have more space? Probably. Can you grow in simplicity by living in a smaller space? Definitely.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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