By February’s end, most people are eager for the arrival of spring. Along with warmer weather, spring hold the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. This is perhaps why the concept of “spring cleaning” is so appealing. It is a concrete way to rid ourselves of the clutter that is taking up too much space in our lives. Many people find the ritual of spring cleaning to be cathartic. Physically removing unnecessary items to reveal a clean, tidy space generates a feeling of inner peace and serenity.
Spring cleaning is not just for your house; it can also be applied to your mental and emotional space. Be honest—how much clutter is currently taking up space in your mind? Chances are, this mental toxicity is causing exhaustion, depression, irritability and chronic stress.
Incorporate the following steps into your spring-cleaning regime as a way to sage your soul:
Cut ties with toxic people
It’s hard to be chill when you are surrounded by “energy drainers”—those people who leave you feeling exhausted after each interaction. Constant complaining or gossiping are the usual M.O. for toxic people. However, “energy drainers” can also operate in coverts ways by being flaky, perpetually late, or even throwing subtle digs and backhanded compliments your way. Treat your time and energy as sacred things and spend them only on relationships that benefit you in a positive way. Do not be afraid to take space from those who are not invested in your well-being.
While other people can negatively impact our mood and emotions, sometimes we are our own worst critic. Are you still ruminating on something you did or didn’t do six months ago? Stop now. This does not mean resigning yourself to all the bad things that have happened or might happen. Rather, forgiving yourself means giving yourself permission to not spend mental energy getting angry, fighting the feelings or assigning blame. The long chain of events and decisions that led you to the current situation all have a cause—to change reality, you must first accept the reality without judgement.
Take a Time Out
It may sound like an obvious concept but setting aside time for yourself can easily get swept away by daily, weekly and monthly routines. Identify one activity you want to get back into or want to try for the first time. Then, make it a priority. Mark it on the calendar and hold yourself accountable by not making the plans contingent upon whether other people will be able to join you. Trying a new activity is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and take a break from your usual routine.
Maintain your Zen
While spring is a great season to start cleaning up your mental health, it is equally as important to check back in with yourself frequently throughout the year to monitor warning signs (exhaustion, depression, irritability) and take preemptive steps to manage that stress before it completely takes over.
Here are simple ways to keep your cool:
- accept what you cannot control. Acknowledge negative experiences instead of avoiding or ruminating on them
- manage time effectively by setting realistic expectations
- set boundaries by saying “no” to obligations that will create excess stress
- talk about feelings instead of holding them inside
- practice self-compassion
Regardless of the season, therapy allows individuals to discover strengths and new skills that will help them to cope effectively with the challenges that arise in life. If you feel that you need extra support, seeking mental health treatment can be immensely helpful in providing lasting relief.