There is a drawer in my desk that is a catch all for everything I am unsure of where it should go. Likewise, there is a place inside me where I put emotions I am not sure how to address in the moment. Confident that at some point I’ll deal with them (stuff and emotions), they pile up until I can no longer ignore them. Sound familiar?
That’s why at least once a year, I like to do a full home cleanse. This year my husband is in on it, too. Each week we’ve identified an area of the house to focus on. This physical cleaning has great psychological benefits, too.
Using spring cleaning for mental wellbeing
Years ago, I rented a house with a garage. When I moved in, I put everything in the garage that didn’t have a place in the house. Add to that items my landlord had left and it was horribly messy. I made the decision to spend a beautiful spring Saturday cleaning and organizing the garage.
I took everything out of the garage first. With the garage was completely empty, I stood there looking at the enormity of stuff on my driveway all I could think was, “What have I done?” It was overwhelming. I took a little break, drank some water, and then got started.
First I sorted; keep, donate, trash, unsure. Then I started organizing the stuff I knew I’d keep back into the garage. Next I went through the unsure pile. Certainly there were some things of my landlords that I wasn’t comfortable getting rid of, so I made a space for it in the garage. For my stuff, I had to decide if it was truly useful and if so, was it truly wanted. If it didn’t meet those criteria it went in the donate or trash pile. I then took the trash out to the dumpster and loaded the car with donation items to go to Goodwill.
As I stood staring at my new “workout studio” in the garage, I was amazed and relieved. 1. I had a useful space now, 2. I’d gotten rid of a lot of things I’d been holding onto for a long time, many of which had an emotional connection. By sorting through, I was also processing those connections.
An added benefit to this exercise was that I got rid of things I wasn’t even aware were holding me back. Gifts from ex’s, photos of people I wasn’t friends with anymore. Stuff from old chapters in my life at a time I was less aligned with my true north.
In addition to the mental workout, I also got quite a good physical workout. The endorphins flowed which supersized the feeling of accomplishment with each item that I sorted and either organized or released. Moreover, I made space for something better to happen in my life.
It did, too. An unhealthy relationship ended. I left a job I no longer enjoyed. My business shifted and I attracted clients I really enjoyed working with. I started working with veterans, something I’d wanted to do for years. I made new friends whom I had healthier relationships with and am still honored to be friends with all of them many years later!
I encourage you to take the spring cleaning challenging. You can always start small with a drawer. Or be brave and tackle that really daunting area. Just don’t make an excuse that you don’t have time. You do. Be brave and commit. Are you in?