Spring cleaning is no doubt a useful, and arguably necessary activity that keeps a home running smoothly. Likewise, clearing out the clutter that piles up in that gray matter of yours is essential for a healthy life. Not only will you be more productive in everyday activities, you’ll also gain creativity, mindfulness, and lower depressive, impulsive, and angry feeling states (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Clearing your mind’s clutter allows you to fully experience and appreciate each day. Sound more daunting than washing windows? Fret not! You don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits of clearing your mind. The key is to pay attention to yourself. Use the suggestions below to get you brainstorming on what you really like, and who you really are. Remember, without your own mental health, all other aspects of your life will continue to be sub par.
You’ve heard it a thousand times before, I know. Take that as a hint as to how important it is for you to do it! Rather than setting unrealistic goals for yourself, such as demanding that you meditate for 1 hour each day, acknowledge that any efforts are beneficial. So, start with 2 minutes each day – just make sure they are quality minutes. Before you go to bed, sit comfortably in front of a candle. Focus on the flame, then close your eyes. Envision the flame in your mind. If you get distracted, the flame will disappear. Open your eyes again, however many times needed, and refocus. The goal is to eventually increase the number of minutes spent in focus, not the number of minutes spent wondering what you have to get done tomorrow. Developing the ability to focus will aid you at work, during stressful situations, and even in the bedroom.
REUNITE WITH PEOPLE
That mean the most to you. Have a friend or family member that makes you feel good? Call up someone you’ve lost touch with – even if there is laundry to be done. While email is convenient, hearing a caring voice is much more soothing.
Journaling can take the form of writing, drawing, scrap booking, or any other endeavor that allows you to contemplate your past, present and future behaviors and feelings. It’s okay to flush out your feelings – if it really bothered you because someone didn’t change the toilet paper again, write about it. Even if it happened 2 weeks ago. Nothing is trivial. It is this type of free-flow writing that allows you to get in touch with your likes and dislikes. Knowing what makes you happy is a very effective start to making yourself happier. Now you will have the tools to start adding more of the good things in your life, and avoiding the things that make you upset.
LEAVE THE HOUSE – BY YOURSELF
Empower yourself and do something solo. Take a walk under the stars, watch the sunset/sunrise, stroll along the shore, or go to a movie or art gallery. Just like meditation, simply allowing yourself to observe and be aware of the beauty around you does wonders for contentment and life satisfaction.
KNOW WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT, AND GIVE FREELY
After a few weeks of taking time for yourself each day, you may discover an issue that bothers you more than others. One way to clear the pain or anxiety that this issue causes is to actively do something about it. Still mourning the loss of an elder? Volunteer at a nursing home or palliative care. Overly saddened by the sight of homeless people? Donate to food banks or help serve at soup kitchens. Although your time is of high commodity, giving is an investment that can help you cope, find like-minded friends, and increase the meaning of your life in this world.
This spring, rather than polishing the good silver, take the time to clear out the cobwebs in your own head. Figure out what activities let you explore yourself, and do them guilt-free! By tending to your mental health, feelings of rejuvenation and renewal will go much deeper than having a clean kitchen floor.