Spring Cleaning for Mental Health: 3 Tips to Declutter Your Mind
Ahhh, the sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The flowers are blooming.
You know what that means… Spring is here!
And after a long, dreary winter it’s finally time to shake off the proverbial feathers to embrace the season of renewal.
For many of us, this process begins with a refreshing deep clean of our homes, where we open the windows, declutter spaces, and clear out the dust that’s settled over the last few months.
But capitalizing on the momentum of spring doesn’t have to stop at simply addressing your external environment… It’s also a great time to look inward and try to improve the state of your mental well-being - a “spring cleaning” for your mind, if you will.
In this article, we’ll share three tips to help jumpstart your mental spring cleaning, so you can leave the winter blues behind and spring forward (#dadjoke) feeling happy and healthy.
Organize and prioritize
If you’re going to clean a house, you have to know where to start.
For example, it doesn’t make much sense to vacuum your carpets before you’ve knocked down the cobwebs from the corner of the room or dusted the coffee table.
The same logic applies to your brain. When you’re stressed and it feels like there are a thousand things to do, focusing on the wrong things or too many things at once can quickly lead to feeling burnt out.
When you want to declutter your mind, it can be really helpful to take time to reflect on your goals and prioritize which are most important to accomplish, before jumping into action.
Simply making a list of things you want to get done first can be helpful in visualizing and focusing on your next steps. If it’s a big goal that will take more than a day to accomplish, plan ahead on how you can chunk it out effectively to make it less daunting.
With just a little forethought, you can help eliminate decision fatigue and avoid extra stress, while still being productive.
Clear the air
Few things in life can linger over and weigh you down like a bad interaction with a friend or family member.
After all, we’re communal creatures that rely heavily on creating and maintaining meaningful connections, and when our relationships are out of balance, we tend to be as well.
Your mental spring cleaning is the perfect time to clear the air, and move past any differences or misunderstandings that are getting in the way of you enjoying precious time with your loved ones.
Research shows that loneliness and isolation are correlated with lower quality of sleep, increased cortisol, and higher rates of anxiety and depression…And people who experience greater relationship stress also carry a higher allostatic load, which is essentially a measure of the “wear and tear” stress places on the body and brain.
On the flip side, strong social connections have been linked to higher self-esteem, lower stress rates, and better longevity.
So basically, the quality of your relationships affect a lot more than your weekend plans, and a little bit of forgiveness goes a long way toward improving your quality of life.
Move it outside
Exercising regularly is one of the most important habits you can do to affect your overall quality of life. It’s been shown to lower risk for health issues like heart disease and diabetes, while improving fitness, cognition, libido, and cardiovascular health.
But, do you know what can take the amazing benefits of your workouts to a whole new level? Taking them outside.
When you exercise outside, not only do you reap the rewards of your hard work, you get boosts to important mood-balancing compounds like vitamin D and a nice dose of nature therapy as well.
Being outdoors also provides some excitement to those of us who’ve been stuck indoors performing the same old workout routines for the last few months. Even better, this dynamic experience can help stimulate the formation of new neurons in the brain.
Spring is a time of optimism and growth, and for many of us, it’s a chance to start implementing healthier habits to improve our mental and physical health. And while tips like those shared above can be effective for some, others may need a little more help in caring for their mental health.In recognition of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we feel it’s important and timely to share resources for people to reach out to if they’re struggling. If you feel you may need access to professional resources, the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you connect with providers in your area depending on your needs.