How Quarantine Made Me Finally Ditch My Minimalist Lifestyle
Like many others, I jumped on the minimalist bandwagon when it blew up. I’ve enjoyed embracing my capsule wardrobe, whittling down my grocery list to the absolute essentials, and surviving on a few extra loads of laundry a month to keep my space clean.
But in quarantine, I’ve grown tired of looking at the same bedsheets, wearing the same rotation of clothes, and simply having fewer choices. I embraced a minimalist lifestyle, in part, to cut down on decision-making. But during quarantine, I found myself stuck inside with more time on my hands, which somehow made minimalism less appealing.
Like many others, I’m experiencing quarantine fatigue and my minimalist lifestyle only seemed to be contributing to that. Quarantine forced me to slow down a bit, think about how I spend my time more mindfully, and appreciate some of the habits that I threw out during my minimalist makeover.
I’ve also discovered more joy in cooking — and so many other things — now than I ever did before.
For example, I’ve written a good amount about meal-prepping here on TFD. Needless to say, I used to be a huge fan. It allowed me to save money, save time, and eat healthy, but this was all during a period when I was trying to maximize the amount of time I had. Now, cooking has been a welcome distraction. As such, I’ve taken to experimenting with new recipes, at least every other day, and taking my time with cooking instead of meal-prepping my breakfast as my batch lunch cooked on the stove. While this has meant that my grocery bill has risen, it’s been largely offset by the lack of dining out during quarantine and allowed me to introduce something new, exciting, and challenging into my daily routine. I’m not a particularly good cook, but I’ve enjoyed experimenting with new spices, foods, and recipes and having the time to devote to more complex dishes, too.
Moreover, I’ve grown to appreciate the warmth and comfort of a warm meal. I typically batch-prep overnight oats for my breakfasts, simply heating them up at my office when I need to, but I’ve wound up really cherishing the short amount of time it takes for me to make oatmeal every morning. It sets the tone for my day when I take time to cook myself a nourishing meal and it allows me to reset, too, when I do the same for lunch and dinner. Prior to quarantine, I constantly saw cooking as exhausting, frustrating, and taking up too much of my time. In embracing a more “maximalist” lifestyle, though, I’ve also discovered more joy in cooking — and so many other things — now than I ever did before.
And then there’s my closet. I enjoy my minimalist wardrobe, especially for the office, but I’ve grown tired of wearing the same items of clothing day in and day out. Usually, my minimalist wardrobe allows me to look polished and stylish in minutes. Now, however, I’ve grown exhausted of the “infinite” ways in which I’m able to pair my clothes together. During a time when nothing is new or different, my wardrobe’s stagnancy is an added layer of frustration. As such, I took advantage of Memorial Day and quarantine deals to pick up a few new items, particularly colorful ones. Usually, minimalist wardrobes stay away from too much color as neutrals are the easiest to pair together, but I’m not looking for easy right now. I’m looking for outfits that can boost my mood or allow me to spend a few extra minutes trying new pairings and styles. While, again, this may not be the best for your budget, there is a guaranteed mood boost from retail therapy and sometimes, like when quarantine fatigue is really setting in, it can be nice to just embrace a quick energy boost.
Finally, quarantine has made me aware of my minimalist mindset when it came to my own neighborhood. I love the area of the city I live in but I especially adore frequenting “my” grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. This has especially helped me save both time and money in our pre-corona world since I knew exactly when to grab the best happy hour deals at my favorite rooftop restaurant or knew what time to shop at my go-to grocery store to avoid the crowds. But with half the stores and restaurants I used to visit closed temporarily, I’ve begun to re-explore the neighborhood I live in. I shop at different grocery stores every week and try new take-out restaurants that I’d previously never had the time to stop in. My minimalist lifestyle had bled into a minimalist mindset which I loved, especially because it offered me comfort and didn’t force me to spend too much time thinking or researching a new spot to visit. But with nothing but time during quarantine, I’ve enjoyed pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying out new businesses and foods and grocery patterns than ever before.
Minimalism is about intentionality. It’s about letting go of the idea or concept that you need more in life to keep you happy; it’s about feeling freedom through a more simplistic lifestyle, whether that be through a shorter grocery list or a smaller wardrobe. Right now, though, our lives already feel simple. There’s a distinct lack of everything, from the hustle and bustle we used to curse to the in-person relationships that made up such a big part of our happiness. As such, I’ve found myself turning away from the minimalist and embracing more groceries, more recipes, more clothes, and more time-consuming tasks. But I’m still doing this in an intentional manner. I think being intentional in what we choose to do and engage in can help us all, now and always.
Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
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