On the left is a visually busy room but on the right is the same room in a minimal style

How Minimalism Helps My COPD

Anytime I heard the word minimalism, I had visions of stark white walls and few furnishings. I would shudder at the thought of giving up my vast collection of books and various knick-knacks collected over the years. They are my treasures and a history of my life as years turned into decades.

As breathless as my disease

I have severe emphysema so I am pretty much homebound during the week. I go out with my husband on weekends. Spending this much time in the surroundings of my home, I have been craving something different. I didn’t know what. I was restless. The rooms of my home and my mind felt claustrophobic. All the belongings I so carefully collected over time were making me feel as breathless as my disease.

How it happened

Sitting in my doctor’s waiting room one afternoon, I saw a magazine with an article about living a minimalist lifestyle on the cover. I read it more from boredom than interest. I became intrigued as I looked at photos of rooms with color, well furnished, and belongings neatly on display. This was a far cry than what was in my imagination. I didn’t go home and start clearing out all the rooms immediately. I dug deeper into the topic. The more I did, the more deeply I feel connected to this concept of living.

Minimalism is a mindset of freeing ourselves of what is unnecessary in life. It isn’t about just letting go of possessions. Living with less allows freedom to do what matters most to us. I think as a society we hold onto things and people out of habit, not because they always make us feel good. Once I understood this, I embraced the idea.

Living a simpler life is a path for me. I have been assessing what is and is not important to my current lifestyle, a life that includes managing COPD. I am testing the waters, moving slowly into the process. As I declutter possessions, I feel lighter. There is less to dust. There is more room to breathe. The more I do, the more I am evolving into this style of living.

Having COPD, I need to make my life as easy as possible. There was a time I could clean my house in less than a day. Now it might be one room for the day if that. I need time to prepare and cook dinner. Eating properly, exercising, and meditation are very important in my daily routine for my illness.

Freedom with less

I am 65 years old. I have an illness that requires quite a bit of maintenance. I took a long look at how I want to spend my years going forward. It isn’t dusting, cleaning, and cooking. Minimalism provided the stepping stones to streamline those necessary chores. I want my life now to be about experiences, not possessions. My wardrobe became basic and comfortable. My many books have become electronic reading or audible. The numerous hobbies are now just a couple, the ones I truly love doing. I am still working on simplifying my home. I am enjoying the process.

The lifestyle I have chosen is continually changing as I change. It is new to me, and I find it healing in ways that I didn’t expect. Life with COPD and my attitude about it have become easier going. I have more time to rest without guilt. Before there was always a distraction. Something always needed to be cleaned or washed or folded. My home is cleaner because there is less dust to accumulate. I have less to be anxious about. Days I call “bad breathing days” are becoming further apart. I have more energy on the weekends to go out with my husband and experience life. There is freedom when there is less.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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