It’s that time of year again! The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and there’s a renewed sense of energy in the air. For many people, this is the time of year when they start thinking about spring cleaning. For some, the act of decluttering and organizing their space can be a therapeutic way to let go of the past and start fresh. For others, the thought of spring cleaning can be overwhelming and even cause anxiety or depression. If you’re feeling stressed about spring cleaning, read on for some tips on how to make it a more positive experience and some of the benefits to your mental health. Research from Princeton Neuroscience Institute found people who are frequently in disorganized environments are more likely to be stressed, overwhelmed, distracted and have lower levels of productivity. Creating routines that allow you to take care of your home, mind and body can help alleviate negative feelings and increase productivity and improve health.
Tips for Getting Started
- Brain Dump: Take a few minutes to empty your mind onto paper. Write down all the things that are causing you stress, the things that you are avoiding, the things you would like to accomplish and all the areas that you would like to tidy up.
- To Do Lists: Using the information from your brain dump, create a couple of to do lists. These lists can help you keep track of things that are necessary for your well-being and general comfort so that you don’t forget anything important. It may be necessary to create a short term list and a long term list, or several smaller lists to avoid getting overwhelmed.
- Start Small: These lists may seem overwhelming at first, and that can lead to just giving up on decluttering your life, but implementing just one of these ideas (or one of your own) can help to improve your mental/emotional or physical well-being. Don’t try to do too much at once and burn yourself out.
- Make it a Positive Experience: Turn on Music, open your windows for fresh air, light a candle or use a diffuser
- Get Help: Help create developmentally appropriate chore lists for each member of your family and implement a plan for everyone to complete their tasks as a part of their regular routine. If you live alone, invite a friend over to hang out while you organize.
Physical Decluttering Tips
- Closets: Separating seasonal clothes and storing them in the off-season, can help to organize closet spaces to reduce everyday clutter. Thinning out your wardrobe can also help with this. Getting rid of clothes that no longer fit or just don’t get worn is a good way to help reduce clutter, and a great way to give back to your community as you can donate your gently used items to a charity of your choice.
- Papers and Junk Mail: Get rid of old documents that you no longer need, scan or file the ones that need to be kept. Switch to paperless when possible to decrease mail and dispose of junk mail immediately. Unsubscribe from unwanted services like old magazine and mail subscriptions, and all those random emails that just get deleted.
- Unused or Broken Items: Reducing the amount of items in your home can make it easier to keep your home organized. Things like old toys, blankets, extra towels, outgrown/out of style shoes, furniture or other items that need to be repaired/replaced, or anything that has not been used recently or is just taking up space can be sold, donated or trashed.
- Limit buying new items: When you see an item that you would like to buy, wait two weeks and if you still need or want it at that time, then you purchase it. Ensure that any new item that you purchase has a purpose and a place in your home before you buy it.
Mental Decluttering Tips
- Journal: Writing your thoughts and feelings down can help to process events and feelings, which can help your mind feel more at peace and reduce the amount of things that you have to mentally store.
- Boundaries: Establishing healthy boundaries can be vital to protecting your mental and/or physical health. Make sure that the people around you understand your boundaries so that they can respect your needs and wants.
- Meditation: Meditation is a great way to de-stress and relax within your own mind, helping to calm racing thoughts.
- Habits: Spring is a great time to drop old habits that no longer serve you well, and pick up something new to help you focus on your priorities. An example of a new habit that takes very little time out of your day can be something as simple as positive affirmations; this can help improve your self-esteem and general well-being.
Using the arrival of Spring as a time to reset your mental and physical space and create routines to maintain those spaces can free up your time down the road for the things that you enjoy. Decluttering can relieve your stress and make you feel like you have more control over the things around you. Making your home a calm, relaxing place can help improve your overall mood and mental health. Marking things off of your to-do list can provide you with a sense of accomplishment and pride in your home and achievements. Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process and try to enjoy some time outside in the beautiful weather that is coming our way.