As April hits, I always get an itch to do a little Spring Cleaning. Not just the cleaning around the house, but the mind, body, spirit get-rid-of-all-that-clutter type of cleaning! The kind of cleaning that makes you feel like you can breathe a little free-er and a little deeper.
Phase 1: De-clutter your house
I am a firm believer that having a clean living space helps a person feel better and more at peace about their life. It doesn’t have to be spotless by any means, but well-kempt and clutter-free. Many people are more stressed, anxious or unhappy when their house is a wreck. Begin with implementing 15 minute cleanups each day. You might want to do one room at a time or one chore at a time—whatever works best for you! The mess may seem overwhelming at first, but eventually you will see positive change as these 15 minute cleanups become part of your daily routine. As for the junk that needs to go, leave a bag in one of your closets. As you come across clothes/toys/gadgets that you don’t want or need anymore, drop it in the bag. Once it’s full, take it to donate!
Phase 2: De-clutter your mind
Honestly this is something that should definitely be done more than once-a-year, because it is so important to our overall functioning. We must get rid of the mental clutter so we can live a more healthy, happy life. Some steps you can take to do this include:
1) Jot it down! Start a journal where you can just dump your brain and all the thoughts, fears, and questions that you encounter. Don’t hold back! Sometimes, when I have clients who are journal-resistant, I have them do simple 60 second journal entries. Reminder for all you English peeps out there…a journal is personal. It does not need to include grammatically correct sentences and perfect spelling. It can be a list of words, emotions, or song lyrics or it can just be drawings. Do you!
2) Forgive yourself. What guilt and shame are you still holding on to? I hate to break it to you, but that junk isn’t doing anything for you. Period. We all mess up, but if we don’t let go, the guilt reeks some pretty crazy havoc in our lives. So give yourself a break, repent and forgive yourself.
3) Let go of grudges. I just have to ask, “what good is that doing for you?” I’m not saying to be best friends with the person who did you wrong. In fact, you may need to set firm boundaries that include leaving them out of your life. But, let it go. Don’t let the perpetrator have that control over you. It’s a win to simply release the wrongdoing.
4) Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Be aware of your negative thoughts throughout your day. For every negative thought you have, you must find a positive thought. If it’s hard to find something positive out of a negative, find something you can be grateful for instead.
5) Keep it simple. Stop cramming your days full with activities every hour! Ain’t nobody got time for that! If you’re honest with yourself, you don’t even enjoy all the things you’re doing. How can you when you’re busy thinking about the next thing you have to run off to? Give yourself time to stop, breathe and notice the little gifts life daily gives.
Phase 3: De-clutter your body
What you put into your body affects every aspect of your life. Is there something that you eat or drink regularly that you know without a doubt makes you feel lethargic, foggy-headed, or bloated? It could be alcohol, soda, fried food, or your daily sugar intake overall. If you are having a hard time identifying the culprit, keep a food/drink journal for at least 2 weeks where you can track your intake and your symptoms. Find those triggers and get rid of them! Some of you are thinking, “I know exactly what I need to get rid of” but you’re just not stepping up and doing anything about it. I challenge you to go without that “trigger” for 2 weeks and just see how you feel. If you notice a positive difference, than it might be beneficial to cut it out completely or at least allow it be a treat every once and awhile. A second step to take in order to de-clutter your body is to drink more water. Most people do not get enough water each day. In fact, the average intake is 3.5 glasses when it should be more like 6-8 glasses depending on your weight and activity level. Water has many benefits—it increases energy levels, flushes out toxins, boosts the immune system, and improves skin complexion just to name a few. Who doesn’t want those things?! Some easy ways to increase your water intake…Take a water bottle to school or work with you so you don’t have any excuses, set an alarm every couple hours to remind you to refill your bottle, and put a glass on your nightstand so that you can drink it first thing when you wake up.
Phase 4: De-clutter your spirit
What is holding you back from experiencing freedom and joy in your inner most being? Is it an object, a negative thought, a person, or a bad habit that’s keeping your spirit weighed down? Or maybe it’s something important like community, quiet time or meditation that is missing because your schedule is too busy to allow for it? If you’re not sure, start a daily mood journal. Put an alarm on your phone to go off to do a check in 3 times each day—morning, noon and night. When you check in, briefly list your current mood and what happened to help you feel that way. Do this for 2-4 weeks to help identify what is encouraging and discouraging in your life. Start and end each day with something that you are grateful for from that day. A little gratefulness goes a long way for our soul!
Detox, De-clutter, spring cleaning—whatever you want to call it—embrace it this month to clean out and make room for more peace, freedom and joy!