As the temperature starts to rise and the snow starts to melt, many of us start thinking of spring cleaning. Maybe you’re planning to finally have a garage sale, tackle the basement, or deep clean all the nooks and crannies that have been lost to the dark side during the winter.
What we don’t often think about spring cleaning is our mind. You’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo by now – the Japanese guru of “tidying up” and I think we can apply her concepts to our mind. It’s time to purge negative thoughts and messages that aren’t serving you, just like that pile of picture frames in your basement you plan to find a project for on Pinterest!
Let’s take some time to clear out thoughts that don’t serve us any longer, bog us down, and invite chaos and doubt. If you’re really into spring time analogies, you can think about “pruning” these thoughts so you can bloom and grow fuller and stronger with the new season.
GET PHYSICAL FIRST
Is your physical space messy, cluttered, and chaotic? This is where you need to start! Visually, what can you do to help calm your brain? Don’t skip this step! If you’re physically surrounded by clutter, it’s going to be that much harder to get inside and clean out your mind. For all my procrastinators out there, this doesn’t have to delay the process. This can be as quick as picking up the living room, doing the dishes, or dropping off a few bags to Goodwill. It’s just enough so you can look around and be in a space that doesn’t cause you stress and distraction. This might only be one room right now. But, have that space, so you can move on to the next step.
IT’S GO TIME
Getting rid of tangible things with sentimental value is tough, but I’m going to bet that struggle is actually tied up in mental clutter and it’s time to dive in. Here are some questions to get you started. Answer them without judgment of yourself. “Thoughts” in this respect mean the internal dialog or selftalk that only you hear:
• What are my values, and are my thoughts serving them?
• What thoughts set me back from moving forward?
• What thoughts used to serve me, but now I don’t need them anymore?
• What thoughts stress me out and send me into a tailspin whenever they pop up?
• Do my thoughts “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo calls it?
• What thoughts or beliefs am I holding on to that are irrelevant now?
I highly recommend writing your answers down. By writing, you will get them out of your mind and on to paper instead, literally starting to declutter your mind and make space for new thoughts.
A CLEAN SLATE
I wish it was that easy to purge negative thoughts forever, but it’s not. However, you’ve identified what’s not serving you anymore, cleaned out some mental space, and now you get to decide how you want to fill it!
Thank your old thoughts for their service, and welcome in the potential for new thoughts that will serve you and your values. Visualize these new intentions. Make them real in your mind. Write these new thoughts down as well. Review them as often as you need to make sure they are taking up space in your mind, not the old ones.
Here’s an easy breathing meditation that can also help in this process. Sit comfortably in a quiet place and repeat these phrases in your mind.
INHALE: Breathe in the fresh energy of spring
EXHALE: Breathe out the stale air of winter
INHALE: Breathe in clarity
EXHALE: Breathe out clutter
INHALE: Breathe in new possibilities
EXHALE: Breathe out what’s holding me back
As you make your list for spring cleaning this year, make sure to take some time to declutter your mind as well. It stores up a lot more “dust” than you think, and a good deep clean of the mind can be just as therapeutic as hauling out junk to the curb.
Emily Betros is a licensed clinical social worker, certified health coach, and owner or Reclaiming Health, LLC. She helps clients put together an individualized plan to meet their health goals. Emily enjoys hiking, traveling, vegan-izing recipes, and spending time with her husband and daughter.