The minimalist movement was born out of a rejection of the idea that more is always better. In the West we have been taught that we should study more and get better grades, work harder and get a better job, then earn more money and buy more stuff. We follow this pattern in the hope that our ultimate reward will be happiness. 

In his 1970s research into national happiness, economist Richard Easterlin found that our long-term sense of wellbeing does not rise with income past a certain point. This suggests that our idea of finding happiness and fulfilment in external things – whether that be material objects or a career title – is flawed. Although job security and a steady income have an undeniable impact on our ability to lead comfortable lives, too much pressure is placed on the correlation between money and material objects and our happiness levels.

The findings suggest we need to focus more on our health, family and communities rather than accumulating money and material goods. Following these findings, there has been a shift towards minimalism as a more conscious, simpler, affordable and ultimately rewarding way of life. Inspired by the minimalist movement, we offer some tips on how to embody this ethos to reduce stress and make your packing process easier:

What sparks joy?

First, we turn to the words of tidying expert Marie Kondo. In a culture fuelled by consumerism, we often accumulate a lot of unnecessary objects. Though we develop attachments to these things, it is usually pretty true that we don’t need the majority of things we feel attached to. Kondo’s mantra, ‘if it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it’ is not just about organising and tidying up. Her philosophy is about being more conscious, mindful and introspective. When packing to leave your dorm, it can help to lay all of your belongings out on your bed and floor. This will allow you to visually face everything you own, and probably see that there is a lot of stuff you don’t really need and haven’t used all semester. Kondo suggests that if you don’t love it, let it go!

Implement the ‘reduce by 50%’ rule 

If you are looking to go down the die-hard minimalist route then this is a great tip. Go through your t-shirts and if you have 30, get rid of 15… do this for shoes, books, hats, kitchen supplies etc… Having less stuff will not only make packing and storing easier and cheaper, but it will also make it easier to keep your dorm tidy and find the stuff you really need when you need it.

Create a capsule wardrobe

The good thing about halving your clothes, is that you usually only end up with the stuff that you truly love, making it easier to decide what to wear and save you time when getting ready. This tip can also encourage you to save money in the future, as it will help curb excessive shopping, and make you more mindful when choosing what to add to your capsule. 

Donate your belongings or make some extra cash

Trying to live more consciously should also include considering your impact on the planet. Rather than just throwing your things away, donate them to a nearby Goodwill for someone who needs them more. If there is not a nearby charity store, then donate things you don’t need to dorm friends and reap the moral benefits of knowing you are helping to end the fast fashion cycle!

If you’re more the entrepreneurial than charitable type, there are a multitude of apps and platforms you can now use to sell your things quickly and easily, meaning that you can make some extra money while saving the stress of trying to fit all of your belongings into boxes.

Why do all of this? Less stuff means less stress…

Adopting some of the tendencies of the minimalist movement will not only make the packing process more straightforward for you, it should also give you a clearer head, as your space will be less cluttered and your things more organised. By eliminating clutter from your surroundings and life, there is more time and opportunity to pursue other aspects of your life and inner self.