April 5

Why Spring Cleaning is Good for Your Mental Health

Spring is here and if you are in the Atlanta area, everything you own is covered in a thick layer of yellow pollen. Despite having to constantly take antihistamines, I love this time of year. I start to feel a lot more motivated and able to actually get tasks done. Spring is associated with new beginnings and is a great time to get rid of the old to make space for the new. 

Spring cleaning can be so helpful for your mental health. From letting go of old baggage (either literally or figuratively) to realigning with your values, taking time to do some decluttering at least once a year can be beneficial to your health. 

Here's why spring cleaning is good for your mental health. 

Let Go of What No Longer Serves You

I am the queen of saving things because I just know I will find a use for them at some point later. An old sheet becomes a dropcloth for an old and likely slightly broken piece of furniture I'm trying to paint. I get too nervous to throw out boxes that held electronics because even after using the device for a year, I'm somehow still worried that I'll accidentally throw away a piece I need. Or I think that the box is so nice that my kids might just want to use it to store things. But instead of actually using these things, they just pile up, and then I feel annoyed every time I look at them.

When I actually sit down, go through everything, and throw things out (and recycle), I feel such relief! I stop feeling stuck or like I'm somehow obligated to find a use for everything in my house. I find that I feel much more present.

Take some time to look around your space and see what isn't serving you at the moment. Maybe it's a shirt that just doesn't quite fit you the way you wish it did. Maybe it's a friendship that never feels good. Or maybe it's a habit you are ready to let go of. Take note of the things that just don't feel right and see if you can let them go.

Being Surrounded by What Brings You Joy

I was like over 10 years late to the whole Marie Kondo method of tidying up. In short, you only keep things that spark joy. I knew the concept but only recently read the book and that's when it all really clicked. Why should I ever have things in my home that don't spark joy? Obviously, that might not work for every little thing but as I've started to go through her methods, I've really found what a mood booster it is being surrounded by things that bring me joy.

The more you can declutter, the more you can find the things that actually make you smile. And I have also found, that I am much less likely to impulsively buy something when I have a better understanding of what brings me joy. Take a moment to visualize what it would be like to walk into your bedroom or office and only see things that make you smile. Pay attention to what's in the room and see if you can start to make any of that a reality!

Clutter Makes It Hard to Focus

Getting rid of clutter will help you focus.  Being in a cluttered space can increase levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and make our brain get sidetracked by old memories or tasks. Even as I was writing this blog, I got distracted because I saw the paperwork on my desk that my daughter needs to have for Kindergarten. I have already put it on my to-do list with a reminder so it isn't something that needs to be taken care of right now, but just seeing it on the desk distracted me. 

This doesn't mean you have to throw away everything, but if you can find a place for everything, you will feel less overwhelmed and more productive. Tasks can become easier when our home is organized. This also applies to digital clutter. Delete apps on your phone or turn off notifications that make your digital world feel overwhelming. Make sure the apps you actually use are front and center.

Realign With Values

Spring cleaning allows you to realign with your values. When we cut through all of the clutter and the noise, we are better able to understand how we would like to be spending our time. Any time we reflect on what matters to us and make an effort to live in alignment with what matters, our mental health benefits. 

After going through the letting go, finding what brings you joy, and the decluttering, notice if any themes popped up. Was there anything you noticed that has changed for you in the past year? A theme to what you let go of and decluttered? A theme to things that bring you joy and align with your values? Sometimes we stay stuck in the routine of wearing certain clothes, spending time with certain people, or sticking to a certain schedule because it feels easy and familiar. If those things aren't aligning with the life you want to be living, evaluate how you might be able to make some changes and leave some things in the past. 

Anne Rice, LPC, LMHC, CPCS

About the author

Anne is a licensed therapist in both New York and Georgia. She is the owner of Firefly Wellness Counseling located in the Atlanta area. Her team works with all members of the family struggling with anxiety, depression, and big life changes. Anne loves helping adults and teens navigate life's difficulties by creating a comfortable and safe place to share anything and everything that is on their minds. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Princeton University and her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.


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