Some years back my family and I undertook a major downshift.
It was truly life changing and it got me rooted on the road to simple, green living.
Consequently, I started an awareness campaign called National Downshifting Week (now InterNational) and I wrote a great many articles on the subject.
Recently, I’ve been plotting and planning events for the 2009 campaign and I’ve been re-reading some of my old pieces.
I came across a great top ten tips list on ways to simplify your life and in these difficult times of credit crunch crisis, I think the information contained in it is more relevant than ever.
If you’d like to re-print these on your website, you’re welcome feel free, just drop me a line in the comments box to let me know where and when.
1) Analyse your time and finance budgets.
Are you stressed out and stretched to your limits? Do you have all you materially desire, yet still find yourself unhappy? Do you want to spend more time with the ones you love?
These are some of the common driving factors prompting people to consider a form of downshifting.
Whether it’s a nibble at your time or finance budgets, slowing things down a gear can pay back with remarkable benefits.
However, before you dive in and change your ways, you should make time for contemplative reflection. Try to understand the root of your problems, or you may end up only treating the symptoms of your stress and not tackling the root cause of your worries.
Remember too, everyone has their own comfort level of downshift; what suits one may not suit another.
Dip your toes in gently, find the right level for you and use the Downshifting Manifesto to help chart your success!
2) Cut up a credit card
Cutting up ‘a’ credit card is not only practical, but also powerfully symbolic. The very act itself offers an instant and positively liberating effect.
Living within our means is something we’ve forgotten how to do. Children today think money simply appears from a hole in the wall! It’s no wonder, with extended credit, loans regardless of your true income, buy now and pay on your death-bed, all thrust at us daily, through all forms of the media.
It’s time to get back to, ‘If you don’t earn it, don’t spend it!’ It worked well enough for our grandparents and they had rations and wars to contend with.
Cut the temptation and you automatically cut the stress, but the real release of pressure will arrive as you come to terms with embracing this philosophy and your new downshifted lifestyle.
In the short term, cut up that horrible plastic!
3) Donate a bag of clothes, toys or useful items to a local charity shop, refuge or recycling centre, or Freecycle them
Exercising charitable behaviour, doesn’t just mean flipping a coin into the box of a worthy cause. It can be even simpler and not cost you a penny.
Have a thorough house and garage clear out, look at what you are considering throwing away and see if it could be of use to somebody else. If so, donate it to a local good cause.
Or, if you are on the web, find your local Freecycle Group and give it away there. At the time of updating this list, there are 4,638 groups with 6,151,000 members worldwide, all giving their stuff away! Be part of that great organisation and de-clutter your life.
Downshifting encourages you to look at every aspect of your life and apply this ‘reuse, recycle, renew and rethink’ policy. It’s also great for helping you to reduce the rubbish you create!
Donating items to people who have a need for them also helps reduce our landfill problem and can give you a great sense of self-worth, a well-needed moral boost and of course, it does the recipient a good turn too.
4) List your usual weekly purchases and eliminate 3 non-essential items
Now we are really getting to grips with things!
It’s time to ditch a few of those impulsive, pick-me-up purchases you usually make to cheer yourself up.
Consider this, if you have a happier disposition and are less stressed, you won’t need to buy them! Remember, the more money you spend, the more time you have to be out there earning it and the less time you get to spend with the ones you love.
The downshifters who trim back their spending budgets, will immediately feel the benefits of doing so, in their pockets and their pride.
5) Plant something in the garden to cultivate and eat and start a compost heap
Another great lesson on the ladder to achieving downshifting contentment, comes in the realisation that not all food comes from the shops!
A little bit of self-sufficiency goes a long way and whilst I’m not suggesting you go out and plough your back yard, you could easily cultivate a couple of simple tomato plants in the garden, or herbs on the windowsill and even spuds in a dustbin!
Growing a few organic fruit and vegetables is not only delicious, but it breaks that dependency from the supermarket and opens your eyes to taking the chemical-free route too. Another natural step on from this, is developing your first ever compost heap.
Make a free one in the garden from disused pallets, or buy a discounted one from your local council (around £4.00) and start throwing in teabags, coffee grinds, peelings, toilet roll middles, the list goes on and on.
The benefits are simple, you will find yourself a pile of ‘black gold’ compost for next year’s planting and your bin men will be delighted too!
See tomorrow’s post for Part 2