Sunday, April 29, 2012

Downshifting

In the face of a dwindling economy, it has become extremely stressful for many individuals to keep up with the rat race known as society. The way of life of many people has been influenced by the ever-growing need to keep up with the competition, to acquire more wealth, and to live a more luxurious, supposedly happier life. This growing materialism engenders the problem of physical and psychological burnout and stress. Moreover, instead of gaining the contentment they seek, people begin to carve for more, and spend more money then the actually have to. 


With this, many people have come to realize that contentment and happiness living cannot be solely achieved by working more hours and spending more money on items of no logical value. Instead, they become enlightened that a better life can be achieved by doing something that is the complete opposite. Thus, many individuals have resorted to downshifting. With downshifting, they are able to live not only happier but healthier as well.
What is Downshifting and What Does It Have to Do with the Present Economy?
Downshifting is a process wherein people try to live a simpler, more frugal life. It is a way to make improvements on the lives of people who have fallen victim to materialistic living. With this process, people work towards a less stressful yet more rewarding way of life.
Basically, people may downshift because of the following reasons:
  • They have become too tired of living competitively.
  • They want to live a stress-free life.
  • They want to free themselves from addictive consumerism.
  • They are facing a crisis in their family or personal lives.
  • They are facing life-changing experiences such as extreme problems with their health.
  • They are suffering from financial crisis.
  • They want to start living frugally because of the emerging threats from the present economy.
  • They want to help conserve natural resources.
The present economy has led to higher rates of stress-related jobs. To avoid all the stress and burn out that has sprung from the competitive environment of workspaces, many people in certain countries such as the UK and the US have decided to start downshifting. 
What are Ways to Downshift and Live a Frugal Life?
People can live prudently on their own terms. However, for people who do not know how to start working to a better, thriftier lifestyle, they may try to do the following techniques:
  • Work at home
    Working at home can significantly help cut down on travel expenses. It also helps cut down on other expenses spent while working in an office. Moreover, it helps people to avoid the stressful effects of office politicking and peer pressure.
    In addition, it helps individuals to spend more time with family while still earning a decent amount of income. Best of all, it may help people to reduce the stress they are feeling due to their jobs asworking at home may provide individuals the opportunity to work around their own schedules.
    Finally, the cutdown on transportation use (especially for those who own their own cars) can also contribute to a healthier environment through less fossil fuel consumption
  • Cut back on unnecessary material items. 
    Oftentimes, people tend to buy unneeded items. Cutting back on these unnecessary purchases can greatly, positively affect their lifestyle and may help them incur more savings without spending more time at the office.
  • Avoid impulse buying.
    Buying only the things that you need for that particular day or week can significantly help people become more financially stable in the long run.
  • Try green living.
    Learn to recycle and reuse materials. Instead of throwing away unwanted items, store them away for future use. Learn to conserve electricity, water, gasoline, and other natural resources. This way, pollution and damage to the environment is decreased – a much-needed result nowadays.
  • Don’t hoard: throw away what is of no use.
    In a way, this can reduce whatever expenses are needed to maintain such objects.
  • Avoid using credit cards when purchasing.
    This helps you gain control over expenses and avoid overspending.
  • Aim to spend more time with family and loved ones. 
    There is no better way to live a more contented and happier life than to spend more time with the people we love.
Downshifting does not only mean leaving materialism behind and living frugally. It means more than just cutting back on expenses. It requires more than just determination.  To achieve this healthier kind of life, a firm and clear mindset is required. Learn to prioritize the most important things. In the long run, downshifting may be the key to the life we never knew we wanted, and bring about a different definition for success.
Rina Sinadjan-Magallanes is a freelance writer and editor.

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