I don’t know about you, but I’m just about ready for winter to be over. I’m finding myself compelled to start packing up heavy coats, boots, and shovels in hopes that the upswing in temperature is going to last. I’ve never been one to buy into “spring cleaning” in its typical form, but inevitably as I pack away winter supplies a sort of shift occurs. Certain pieces are put back into boxes and stored, others are critiqued and might be donated or thrown away. In the process I discover hidden treasures of spring and summer items and critique them as well, before bringing them back out for the new season.
There’s something almost therapeutic about this process – about the transition inherent in the chore of trading out the old for the new, and in purging that which is no longer needed or useful. It can feel liberating to rid yourself of clutter or excess, of things that might weigh you or your home down more than they contribute positively. In fact, reducing clutter and unnecessary items in your environment can have wonderful effects on our mental health, including decreasing anxiety and increasing productivity. This, in itself, is a worthwhile endeavor to undertake in terms of “cleaning”.
But I’m going to argue that we should take spring cleaning to a new level. Spring is known to be a time of rebirth, of new beginnings, of beauty. Instead of focusing just on our possessions, what if we thought more about other aspects of our lives that we’d like to be renewed this spring? Are there other areas of your life that are, literally or metaphorically, cluttered and need to be changed out?
Here’s an example of what I mean. Many of the MD individual therapy, and MD family therapy clients that I work with describe a constant battle between themselves and their schedules – in essence, there’s not enough time in a day to do everything they’d like, or even need, to accomplish. I’m guessing that almost everyone could use a good “cleaning” of their calendar – ask yourself, is everything I’m doing benefitting me and/or my partner or family? Am I making sure to carve time out to take care of myself and to spend with the people I love? Is there something I could remove from my schedule that could make me feel liberated, because it’s not serving me anymore? What would I like to put in its place? (My suggestion, unless you already have made this a habit, is to clean out time for a date night with your partner once every week or two – spending quality time together regularly (outside of the couples therapist in Bethesda) will do wonders to enhance your relationship’s intimacy).
Another example could be “cleaning” out your mind of certain negative messages that you give yourself. For example, it often becomes a familiar habit to tell ourselves things like “I’m never going to get that promotion” or “I look terrible today”. While it happens to everyone, these negative messages don’t serve us well! They tend to weigh us down instead of motivating us to change. Instead, trade them for newer, more positive statements like “I’m going to work extra-hard this quarter” or “I know I can find an outfit that makes me feel confident”. Cleaning out your mind of thoughts and messages that no longer serve you, that are holding you back and that you’d like to change, can set you on a great path toward accomplishing your goals.
What else would you like to “clean” this spring? Tell us in the comments below!