Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s filled with such sweetness and fresh life—spring abounds with the promise of new possibilities! We’ve moved past the stress of the holidays and cold weather. We have our New Year’s resolutions set out, summer is beckoning, and life feels like it’s just a bit easier. And, then, before you know it, those New Year’s resolutions have slipped away, work issues arise, family matters get a bit complex, and you are in a tangle of anxiety and stress all over again.
What to do? Smile to yourself and prepare for a bit of fun, no-fuss spring cleaning.
This is your time to peek inside the closets of your mind and whisk away the patterns and mindset that are doing you in. Can it be as easy as this? Can just a bit of spring cleaning do the trick to give your life a much-needed breath of fresh air? You bet. Think of it this way: cleaning out old clothes, donating unwanted bric-a-brac, and tossing forgotten foods in the fridge and pantry can make your home so much fresher, right? It’s the same with your mind! When you take the time to do a bit of mental spring cleaning, your mind says, “Ahhhh…this peacefulness feels terrific! This no-stress vibe feels good!”
Every week, I volunteer as a meditation leader at a local women’s center. My time there—teaching meditation and being with a large group of amazing, courageous women—is one of the highlights of my week. As I prepared to leave one day, one woman came to me and said, “I believe in what I could accomplish if I could just stay in this moment—the place where my anxious mind is quiet and still. Your meditation is the favorite part of my day.”
Such comments make me smile with joy, for they prove that one’s mindset really does matter. When we are able to clear our minds of all the doubts and fears that plague us, we are able to do tremendous things with the energy we were wasting on stress and doubt. Here’s the simple beauty of this truth: when we learn to clean out the cobwebs and unwanted thoughts in our minds, we are our better selves.
A 5-Step Routine for Spring Cleaning Your Mind
With a bit of patience and practice, you can do some amazing spring cleaning in your own mind. By embracing and practicing the five steps outlined below, YOU can clear out your stressed and anxious mind.
1. Good Morning, Sunshine!
Start your spring cleaning by giving attention to your morning routine. Reduce your mind’s level of stress and anxiety by waiting until after you shower, dress, and eat to check in with your phone. Instead of going straight to work emails or texts, use your morning time to listen to gentle music, meditate, listen to upbeat podcasts, or practice mindfully eating breakfast.
2. Clear Out Anxious, Stressful Thoughts!
As you continue on your day, notice when anxious thoughts arise. Without judgment, simply pay attention to how you feel—notice if your neck feels tight, your heart races, a headache sets in, or if other signs of stress and anxiety arise. Whenever these sensations arise, pause to notice them and breathe. Rather than ignoring or pushing away your anxious thoughts and feelings, just notice them and practice “letting them go” as you breathe. When these thoughts and feelings arise, you can imagine that you have a feather duster and are simply noticing the anxious cobwebs as you calmly dust them away.
3. Good Afternoon, Beautiful!
Energy often declines in the afternoon. Rather than picking up another latte or energy drink, take a 10-minute break to clear out your mind. Research shows that a mere 12-minute walk is enough to boost your mood. Use your walk time to let go of negative thoughts as you practice being in the present moment—breathing and enjoy your mind-cleansing break.
4. Evening Matters!
Ah! You’re home! Although your home environment might not give you the peace and quiet you crave and deserve, you can learn to create pockets of stillness in your evening. Whether making a quick home-cooked meal, cuddling with your pet, or are reading stories to your little ones, you can use these simple spaces to clear your mind of stress. The more you learn to calmly enjoy life’s simple pleasures, the more your brain embraces your new housekeeping habits of staying calm and at peace. Although it’s tempting to unwind in front of the television or computer, your busy mind will ultimately thank you for keeping these brain-stimulating activities to a minimum.
5. Sweet, Mind-Cleansing Sleep!
Did you know that your brain does its own housekeeping as you sleep? Research shows that the brain actually “washes” and “detoxes” itself as you rest. To keep your brain and overall wellness in top form, it’s vital that you get great sleep each night. Good sleep hygiene involves keeping a steady routine that allows for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down before bed, keeping a consistent regimen that makes time for mind-clearing activities like meditating, washing, and enjoying a few pages of your favorite book. Keep the light in your bedroom low, and do your best to rid your bedroom space of electronic devices such as televisions, cells phones, and computers. If your bedroom needs its own spring-cleaning to make it a more peaceful space, now’s the perfect time!
Let your mind enjoy the benefits of a morning-to-night routine that allows you to clear out stress and anxiety as you embrace whatever brings you peace and joy. As with any cleaning project, remember to do a bit of touch-up dusting here and there to keep your mind sparkling and stress-free.