Who hasn’t longed for a simpler life — to work less, stress less and spend more time with family and friends? In today’s busy world, it may seem impossible, but as more people wish to stop living a hurried, stressful life, the concept of “downshifting” has gained popularity.
The Appeal of Simplicity
What does it mean to downshift? Simply, to slow down. People who practice downshifting—sometimes referred to as “downshifters”—believe in improving their lives by focusing on personal fulfillment, minimalism and relationships, instead of climbing the career ladder and accumulating material possessions. Downshifters commit to making changes to their workload, spending habits and lifestyle in an effort to lower stress, live consciously and spend more time with their loved ones.
The Need for Simplicity
Downshifting first gained popularity in the 1990s and more Americans are turning to it as their lives continue to get busier and more stressful. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, more than half of those surveyed reported feeling significantly stressed from work, financial and family obligations. Another study found 54% of workers often use their vacation days not for rest and relaxation, but for running errands and taking care of children and other family members.
Interested in reducing stress and simplifying your life? Consider making these lifestyle changes to enjoy the benefits of downshifting.
Lighten Your Workload
Time is money, and downshifters would rather have more hours at home than dollars in the bank. Work-based downshifting could mean forgoing overtime, working part-time or flex hours, opting for roles with less responsibility or even passing up promotions if they’d negatively affect life outside the office.
Change Career Paths
Career downshifts usually call for a more radical change than work downshifts. This could mean working from home, choosing a workplace with a shorter commute or pursuing a passion that doesn’t pay as well but is much more satisfying — such as teaching or working at a non-profit organization.
Tighten Your Budget
Both work and career downshifts usually result in less expendable income and, therefore, downshifters focus on reducing their expenses and possessions. For example, you might prepare meals at home rather than eating out, buy generic products rather than brand names or opt out of unnecessary services such as cable television or cell phone data plans. This lets you kick pricey habits that don’t actually better your mood or career in the long term.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Going green isn’t just good for the environment, it’s usually a more cost-effective lifestyle. This could mean conserving utilities such as power and water, biking and carpooling to work, or starting your own vegetable garden. Reduce clutter by donating some of your possessions to a worthy cause and spending your money more conscientiously.
Packing up and moving might sound extreme, but city living isn’t cheap. Many downshifters relocate from urban or expensive neighborhoods into rural areas where rent is less expensive and the costs of living aren’t as high.
Ready to start downshifting? Ask yourself what you really want out of life and work, and what you’d need to do to make it happen.