It might come as a surprise to some that Spring cleaning holds a special place in my heart. Some of my earliest memories cleaning as a child involve songs from Godspell playing from the kitchen and my sisters and I dusting with socks on our hands that had been sprayed with Pledge, just preparing the way for the Lord.
Luckily, routine cleaning is something we always did so it didn’t really take too long. After our cleaning, we would have quiet time until 3pm. No technology or fighting allowed. This was on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. As a child, I didn’t want to do this cleaning, but we were getting ready for Easter and that kept me motivated. No matter how many times I had to be redirected or reminded of what I was supposed to be doing, knowing that Peter Cottontail was hippity hoppity-ing his way up the bunny trail, kept me doing it every year. Call it tradition or habit, cleaning became an important sign to me that Spring is finally here.
The thing is, we prioritize having a clean space to live in and try to keep up with all the mundane tasks so that it is more easily manageable, so why don’t we do that with our mental health? Do you take time out of your day, week, or month to “clean up” your mental load? When our mental health isn’t maintained, it gets awfully messy just like our physical environment or our physical health for that matter. Keeping a tidy space in our head takes time, routine cleaning, and maintenance just like our homes. In fact, our minds are where we spend all day every day for our entire lives. Overtime, our interests and lives change and certain parts of who we are and what we’ve done need to be “cleaned up” so to speak. I don’t mean that we should change who we are altogether, but continual growth as a human being is healthy and should be more normalized.
Let Go of What is Out of Your Control
Easier said than done. If you’ve never heard of radical acceptance, it’s a skill learned through DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). It’s the practice of letting go of destructive thinking and behaviors, letting go of the need to be in control of each situation that life throws at you and focusing on what you can control in life….your responses! Again, easier said than done, but adding this practice into our daily lives can help to ease the frustration when things don’t go as planned. When I think of radical acceptance, I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer.
Next time you find yourself in a situation that triggers your emotions, try to step back and assess if it is a situation that you can control. If not, let that shit go. Come on, sing it with me.... and respond appropriately. The more you practice slowing down and responding appropriately instead of responding emotionally, the more natural it will become in your life. Have the courage to protect your peace and maintain your awareness of your emotions. Moving on!
While practicing your newfound radical acceptance, you’ll find that you start to think about situations differently and may start taking others perspectives into consideration also. Congratulations! You’re officially working on improving yourself! An important part of self improvement is educating yourself. There’s clearly not one way to do this, especially with TED talks, Khan academy, and so many documentaries available at the click of a button. Find what works for you and keep educating yourself. My mother used to have a quote at the end of her voicemail for work that we laughed at as kids. "Share what you know. Learn what you don't." I appreciate that so much more now as an adult. Step outside of your comfort zone and see the world from someone else’s point of view or a side of life that you've never experienced before. It could give you a fresh take on life.
Just do it…..literally. We spend so much of our lives planning for our next big move and planning for our next step. We get wrapped up in the monotonous routine of everyday life and our busy schedules and end up falling back on those steps to reach our goals previously mentioned. Have the courage to take that first step and commit to your goals. While doing new things and stepping out of your comfort zone can be intimidating, know that you can do all the things you put your mind to. Make the time to do something each day that will move you towards your goals.
Something that helps freshen a space for spring is moving some furniture around. Changing the direction that we are facing and what we can see. What unhealthy habits or routines do you need to change to spring yourself in a new direction? I’m sure you’ve heard, it takes 14 days to kick a habit and 21 days to build a new one. Don’t give up when that 14 days comes and you still haven’t kicked that unhealthy habit or changed your routine. Keep going. Push further and you’ll get to the 21 days where it starts to become important to your daily routine. It is NOT going to be perfect every day. That’s ok. Give yourself grace on these days. You've heard it before... "Rome wasn't built in one day." Neither are you. The important part is to keep moving towards creating that routine or habit that will help change your life for the better. YOU create YOUR life with your habits and routine.
Recognizing the blessings and things we are thankful for in life can start to change your outlook from day to day. It will help to keep you centered and focused on what’s most important to and for you. Being able to nurture these areas of our lives, gives light to the abundance of blessings we have. We may even find we have more than we need at times and can give more to others. Keep on reading…
It can seem like a tedious and time consuming task to sort through all the thoughts and memories and randomness that might be in your brain, but taking that time is more important to your well being than you know. Continuing to hold onto tasks, memories, and lists that we just simply do not need takes up room up there for dealing with the day to day tasks efficiently and simply becomes overwhelming to say the least. A helpful way to sort through your brain contents is by journaling. There’s no right or wrong way to journal for you. It’s whatever you find most helpful. You’ll change your techniques over time and learn what works best for you. I’ve started using Zinnia for my electronic journaling. It makes journaling easy, convenient and efficient with all the templates. It can be helpful to complete a weekly brain dump to sort through what you still need to keep around and what you can decide to let go. This is a good time to reassess your wants vs needs and how they align with your current goals. If you practice any sort of fasting, you find that there is plenty you can go without. So choose to have less “stuff” and keep space open for what’s important to you.
When life feels chaotic, there’s no better time to slow down and find beauty in the simple things in life. Take 5 minutes to enjoy being outside during your work day or when you get home. One of the easiest ways to calm a baby seems to be stepping outside and taking them out into nature. It has a calming effect almost immediately. It’s that change in their usual environment that gives them so many new things to look at and focus on that calms them. We stop doing this as we grow up and forget how helpful it can be to remove ourselves from our usual environment. Slow down and re-learn how to enjoy the simplicity of nature.
Listen, you are not selfish for wanting to be proud and confident in who you are. When you become arrogant, we’ll have a different conversation. Too many people I know lack a certain confidence that they should OWN! You are an amazing human being and you do hard things, and deal with difficult feelings, people, and situations every day. Look how far you’ve come from where you used to be 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. Be confident in your choices, unless they're repetitively getting you into trouble, and make them for YOU! What do you want people to celebrate about you when you are gone from this earth? Are you that person today? Are you heading towards being that person? What can you do differently to be more proud of yourself? DO IT! And then celebrate accordingly!
Side note: If you’re looking for a great way to kickstart your physical health and nutrition this Spring, check out WAYT Nutrition. They have convenient fitness and nutrition programs that include what you need to get started and offer free coaching and meal planning.
I look back and would love to relive the simpler days with socks on my hands. I had less responsibilities, less people to answer to, and not a care in the world. Now I have all the cares in the world, more responsibility than I care to take on and I still can’t stay on task. It’s not always easy springing forward in life. Taking the first step means stepping outside of our comfort zone that we’ve created. There’s no going back in this life, so keep moving forward. What are you waiting for?