Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Story highlights Tough economic times have caused some to shed belongings and live with less Nicole Dunbar of Chicago recommends pre-paid phones and budgeting for utilities "Miss Minimalist" Francine Jay says traveling light made her want to simplify her life Duane Elgin, author of "Voluntary Simplicity," says downsizing sparks creativity.
Before launching her own coaching and motivational speaking business last year, Dunbar had a "day job" in academic fundraising and lived in affluent Hyde Park, a neighborhood adjacent to President Barack Obama's Chicago home. Pricey dinners out with friends didn't give her much pause.
But those days are over. Even though she's now back in Hyde Park, she's got a six-month sublet arrangement that keeps her rent low and keeps her mobile. She subscribes to utility companies' budget plans so she's no longer surprised by fluctuating bills. She totes sales flyers when shopping the supermarket, eats more seasonally and cooks at home more. Her athletic club membership? It's history. Said Dunbar: "I went out to the nearby Chicago lakefront, and that was my gym.
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I could never have come to this place without living simply and not listening to the 'shoulds. A need is electricity; a want is cable. Because she does most of her coaching work with entrepreneurs and professionals remotely with clients across the country, she's not tied to one physical location. Dunbar's real goal is to spend Chicago's colder months elsewhere -- with her mom in Atlanta, visiting a younger sibling in her native Jamaica -- and downsizing her expenses will give her the freedom to do it.
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Open your windows and let the light in. Go outside and hang out at a park or a new coffee shop. Don't let your apartment become your entire world. Make sure you are spending time with friends. Set up a book or dinner club so you know you'll have that weekly interaction with other people. If you're into climbing, go to the climbing gym or join a meet up. Get to know yourself.
Living alone gives you plenty of time to explore what makes you tick. Meditate, journal, and experiment with what makes you happy. Think about times when loneliness hits you hardest and then make a plan to counter it. Schedule an activity, like going to a Zumba class, that gives you just enough time to get home, change, and head out the door again.
Figure out the best parts of living alone, whether it's drinking straight from the carton, cleaning in your underwear, or peeing with the bathroom door wide open, and indulge. Adopt a pet. Bringing a furry friend home can relieve the loneliness you may experience living alone. Pets fulfill our natural need for touch and companionship, which can help you manage stress. Having a pet can actually lower your blood pressure.
This can help you get out of your own head and think about the needs of your pet. If you're gone most of the day, a dog might not be the best fit.
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A cat, rabbit, or reptile might be a better choice. Practice self-discipline. Sure, one of the best things about living alone is that you can wear your sweatpants and ratty t-shirt all day without judgement. But if you slip into a state of apathy and don't practice self-care--if you stop showering, getting dressed, exercising, or eat too much or too little--you can quickly spiral into depression. It's up to you to hold yourself accountable for these things. Even minimal effort can make a difference when combatting loneliness.
People who make their bed every morning are often more productive, self-disciplined, and feel better about themselves. It's a great way to start your day off on a good foot.
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If you know you can't buy a bottle of wine without drinking the entire thing, then maybe leave it on the shelf or buy something that comes in a small bottle. Have a plan for when you get sick. Coming down with the flu when there's not a roommate, spouse, or family member to help take care of you or run to the pharmacy can be a major downside to living alone. Learn to cook for one. There are tons of cookbooks and websites devoted to learning how to make delicious, dynamic meals for a household of one.
You don't need to live off the same meal for five days in a row, nor do you need to get takeout each and every night. Turn leftover steak into tacos with some lime, salsa and tortillas, or throw your leftover veggies in with some pasta for an entirely new dish. Knowing how you are going to use your food and how much you need will cut down on waste. Know it's not forever. Just because you're alone now, or have been for a while, it doesn't mean that you always will be.
Learning how to make yourself happy, to feel whole and fulfilled on your own, can make you more successful in making and maintaining friendships and relationships. Schedule time to clean. It can be easy to let things go when you live alone, whether it's because you assume no one will see the mess or you don't have a partner with whom to split the chores. But a messy living space invites pests and could lead to damage that can become costly to fix later or even cause to you lose your deposit.
Schedule small chores throughout the week so they don't build up and overwhelm your weekend. Picking up a little every day will also get you in the habit of maintaining a clean home. When mold, toilet stains, and mildew build up, they become more difficult to remove with each passing day not to mention, it's really gross.
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If you regularly use a little shower spray and toilet bowl cleaner, you will save yourself from a lot of hard work trying to scrub out that black grime between your tiles later. Let the professionals do a deep-clean of your home. Then cleaning will be more an issue of maintaining your environment rather than tackling a huge project. It is an instant source of major stress and can compound the effects of depression and grief. It can even be linked to unhealthy weight-gain. Decorate your home to your taste.
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Your environment has a direct impact on your wellbeing, so taking the time to make your home a place you truly enjoy and feel comfortable. Whatever makes you feel good. Bonus: You don't have to compromise and accommodate someone else's creepy doll collection. If you splurge on a heavy item or decide you want to move your massive dresser across the room, don't injure yourself trying to do it alone. Break down the furniture as much as you can remove drawers and legs. Don't be afraid to ask for help if something is just too heavy, even if you need to hire some help.
Maintaining a yard, starting a garden, or even putting a pot of flowers out on a small patio can all help make the outside of your home feel as special to you as the inside. Install a safety system. To take care of your valuable items as well as yourself not just your physical well-being if someone were to break in, but your mental health so you don't worry about it a burglar , take precautions like investing in strong door and window locks.
Consider installing a security system check in with your landlord first if you live in an apartment if you are really nervous about a break-in. Many wireless systems are even DIY and can be brought with you when you move. You don't need a great-big dog, either--sometimes the smallest pups are the loudest.
The noise can be enough to deter someone from breaking in. Or you can arrange to check in on each other if one of you is suspiciously quiet. Make a plan to deal with repairmen. If you have a plumbing issue and don't work from home, it might be a challenge to schedule a repair. Try to schedule an appointment for either the first or last slot of the day so you may not have to miss work. If you trust your landlord, he or she might be willing to meet the repairman on site, so you don't have to be at home.
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