Spring is nearly here!
Spring is nearly upon us. In in my Southern Oregonian home that hardly seems the case with the record cold February we just had. But regardless of outside temperature, winter will be gone and spring flowers shall bloom in just under a month. That means it’s time for some spring cleaning.
Beyond our closets and crawl spaces, spring cleaning can be a whole mind, body, soul, experience.
I hope I don’t sound too hippy dippy (or maybe I do if you’re into that) but stick with me. I want to take a journey on the topic of Spring Cleaning for the Mind, Body, and Spirit.
Before I jump in, a disclaimer about myself. I’m not a guru. I have not achieved ascension in the 7th chakra or anything like that. I am, however, a woman who loves to write and seeks to grow, learn, love, and create.
I’m here to offer my own advice and opinions along with some other good reads about simplifying, decluttering, and calming life in preparation for Spring.
Spring Cleaning for Mind
Let’s begin with mind. What clogs our minds? This new season pay attention to where your thoughts are. If you are like me, your thoughts are probably scattered in a dozen places. To declutter your mind you need to let some stuff go.
Tricks to Declutter Your Mind
- Free form journaling. Just get it all out on paper.
- Minimize to do lists to 1-3 items.You don’t have to get it all done today.
- Plan a vacation, big or small. Any time away from work can help.
- Take a hike or walk around the park
Focus on only the most important and most worthwhile thoughts. When you catch yourself collecting too many stray thoughts: pause, breath, and let go.
Another great trick to cleansing the mind is journaling. On a piece of paper, write down anything and everything on your mind. It doesn’t need to make sense. The act of writing it out helps the brain process the information.
I prefer this exercise with pen and paper over a computer because it’s easier to reflect everything in chicken scratch. I’m also tempted to backspace while typing, but on paper I have to write all thoughts no matter how they come out.
Trim Down To-Do Lists
If your mind buzzes with your endless to do lists, minimize it. Set yourself with 1-3 tasks per day and don’t exceed that. This is easier said than done, especially if you’re a busy person.
A former boss once gave me a great trick for lessening an endless to do list. They called it the four D’s:
Do if its something simple you can get done now or if it’s something you really need to just do. You’ll have to assess a task’s urgency on whether it’s a “do” item.
Delay the task if it can wait. If you don’t need it done today, then don’t worry about it. Today’s “delays” will become tomorrow’s “dos.”
Delegate the task if it is appropriate to do so. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help every now and then. Now of course you don’t want to make other’s do your chores, but you make have a helpful friend or family member that can help you get stuff done.
Delete it if it’s not important. This is my favorite one and for good reason! We sometimes think we have to get everything done. Some tasks we assign ourselves are not nearly as vital as we think. Sometimes you just need to say no and delete it from your to do list.
Take a vacation, even a small one. If you can’t take extra time off either for financial
reasons or because of a demanding job, take a mini vacation on your weekend or single day off. Look up the touristy things within an hour drive of your home and play tourist for the day.
I find that hikes are a great way to clear my head. If I stay home, my mind fills with lots of tiny stray thoughts. If I keep myself active in a fun way, my mind stays on just that activity.
Take a Hike
Surrounding myself with nature also helps when I’m stressed. It’s science too. Spending time outdoors provides a slew of benefits including but not limited to vitamin D intake, stress relief, increased mood, increased immunity, and more.
Spring Cleaning for Body
The body in this case refers to your physical life. So Spring Cleaning for the Body basically like “normal” spring cleaning.
If you need any excuse to minimize your closet and rid yourself of unnecessary extras, Spring cleaning is the perfect time to do it.
Create a checklist and take each section by day or week depending on what your schedule allows. For example:
- Monday or Week 1- Closets
- Tuesday or Week 2- Bathrooms
- Wednesday or Week 3- Bedrooms
- Thursday or Week 4- Living Room and Laundry Room
- Friday or Week 5- Kitchen and Pantries
After a week or a month you’ll live in a much more organized space.
For me, the easiest place to start is in the closet. I’ll assess everything I have and pile up things I have not worn or used within the last 6 months. 95 percent of the time if I haven’t used it within half a year, I won’t miss it.
After clearing out the closet, move to bathrooms. I’ve cleared out over half of my drawers simply throwing out empty bottles I had tucked away. If I don’t use it weekly, I toss it.
I found that plastic bins for the drawers really helps organize and separate bathroom items. Before I had a piled up mess that had me literally digging through drawers. With some minimalism and plastic bins, my bathroom is now neat and orderly.
In our apartment we have an extra bedroom that has become the vortex of miscellaneous. Since moving several months ago, this room has become junk central and every time I see it I stress out.
Most of this bedroom is unused so I got rid of most of the room. Many bags of donations and several bags of trash later we have a nice guest bedroom with only a bed, my desktop, and a closet of our summer and winter adventure gear.
Our living room suffered from a few ugly nick nacks that travelled with us from previous homes and a slew of video games in chaotic piles. My first step with the living room, like most rooms, was minimize. First get rid of the stuff we don’t use. Donate the usable and trash the stuff no one would want.
With Corbin’s help we minimized video games and organized them on our shelves. We donated the ugly chicken statues that sat in the corner (still don’t know why we kept those for so long) and enjoyed our peaceful new living space.
The laundry room, like the spare bedroom, became sort of junk space on the shelves. Most of it was for he dumpster. After some cleaning and removal of junk, the space looks nicer.
Time for the biggest project of the house– the kitchen. How did we collect so many mugs? Why do we need three strainers? Who got us all these serving trays? The kitchen is the heart of the home so it’s no wonder how most people collect the most in their kitchens.
You can probably guess the first step– minimize what you got. You more likely than not only need 1 of each serving utensil and 1 of each cooking tool. Donate duplicates. If you are in a house alone or with just a partner, keep minimal silverware, plates, and bowls. You’re probably thinking, “wait! What if I have people over? What will they use??” My guess is most people won’t have more than a couple people over a time. Keep a few spares for that occasion, but most couples and singles don’t need a Costco 12 pack of plates. If I’m wrong, keep what you need and find a minimum that works for you. Obviously if you have a family, the more people in the house the more you need. Try to trim the excess where you can.
With the excess gone, organize the cabinets. Try to categorize what you have and put your stuff in a logical place. Consider using drawer organizers to separate utensils and create a space that makes sense to you.
For my pantry I found way too much food we don’t eat. I feel bad for spending so much on food we don’t eat. If it’s non perishable I’ll donate it. If it has gone bad or it’s been opened long ago but will never be finished, I dump it. Then I make myself feel bad enough about the waste and promise myself never to buy excess again! Just kidding– sort of.
Something about clearing out the physical does magic on the ethereal. An organized physical life helps organize the mind.
Spring Cleaning for Spirit
The best way to clean the spirit is through meditation. Many people, including myself struggle with this concept. Meditation sounds so mystical. Like it’s this achievable sense of enlightenment and we think we need that before we even start. That is so not the case! Mediation shouldn’t stress you out and if you go about it the wrong way, it can be. Start small.
Simple ways to start meditating
- Set aside 5 minutes for the first week, then progressively add more time as you get better at sitting still.
- It’s okay to think while meditating. It’s nearly impossible to clear the mind, especially at first. Let your mind wander where it wants to.
- Clear yourself of distractions. Put your phone across the room on silent (not vibrate, silent!)
You can find so many beginner’s guides on meditation online. I like this one by Grounded Panda because it’s short and to the point.
For a week find five minutes after you wake up to stretch your body and breathe. I’m the
type of person who hates sitting still. I always want to be moving. It feels more productive. I have to remind myself that mediation and self care is productive even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
After a week amp it up to 10 minutes. As you progress you can add more time where you can let your breath and mind guide you.
It’s Okay to Think
A lot of people think they need to stop thinking when they mediate. That’s not really the point per say. The purpose should be to relax your mind and connect with yourself. So it’s okay to think while in a meditative state. Try not to actively think of anything in particular. Rather, let your thoughts passively cross your mind, but don’t hold on to them. Allow them to come and go with each breath.
For successful mediation, remove distractions from yourself. Primarily our phones impede on our relaxed state. Put your phone on silent (note– not vibrate but actually silent) and set it across the room or in a drawer. Close yourself off from other people and animals in the house. Allow yourself to just be with yourself. If you’d like, use a face-mask and sound cancelling headphones. They aren’t required, but they can help create that solitude needed for mindful meditation.
Take advantage of spring cleaning season to revamp your life, even if only a little bit. Clear out your closets. Make a trip to Goodwill. Write what you’re thinking, breathe and let be. You’ll be thankful you did.