Spring Cleaning for Your Mental Health

Spring is here and with the change of seasons comes a sense of regrowth and renewal. Skies are bluer, the weather is warmer, and everything seems better. Spring fever is real, and it’s proven to improve your mood and broaden cognition, according to the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. For those of you feeling spring’s full effects, it’s a great idea to use this to your advantage.

Springtime often inspires us to declutter our living spaces and clear off the dust that’s been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out our mental and emotional spaces. Deep cleaning our psyche allows us to let go of the stress, anxiety and negativity we may be holding inside.

So how can we start off the new season refreshed? A mental spring-cleaning can provide a much-needed sense of relief and accomplishment. After all, “80% of health resides in the brain.” Much like physical cleaning, the task can seem daunting. Here are some simple steps to get you on the right path forward.

Things to Let Go Of

Negativity

How we view ourselves and others is linked to the satisfaction we reap from personal connections and our self-worth. Criticizing yourself is extremely debilitating, and criticizing others is a reflection on your own insecurities. Understanding your relationship with yourself leads to a better relationship with others. And remember, “Your harshest critics are really very critical of themselves – not you.”

Bad Habits

Eliminate bad habits that are counterproductive to your well-being. Start by defining concrete behavior you want to change or develop. Living a healthier life can start with small, behavioral changes that are easy to make and that add up to noticeable, positive results over time. Think in terms of specific, doable behaviors – like adding more vegetables to your meals; going to bed earlier; exploring more outdoor activities three times a week; or muting your phone when you’re around other people, just to name a few.

Clutter

There’s a powerful psychology behind the saying, “Clean house, clear head.” The mental cost of clutter leaves us feeling anxious, helpless and overwhelmed. Clear away the mess and enjoy a life of less stress.

Things to Work On

Physical Health

Your physical and mental health are interconnected and cannot be separated from each other. The benefits of physical exercise include brain stimulation, improving mood, increasing self-confidence, and more. Fueling your physical health is important too. Eating fresh, unprocessed foods allows you to “Eat your water,” which is preferable to drinking it since cells can absorb the water more readily when it’s consumed slowly.

Mindfulness

Personal growth requires self-reflection. Reflecting and being aware of things, like how to talk to yourself, allows us to make better decisions that affect our future. One thing I tell my patients to do is keep a journal. You can write as much or as little in it as you’d like, but the goal is to create better emotional awareness by connecting thoughts and feelings.

Positive Friendships

It’s not just about WHO you’re friends with, it’s HOW you’re friends with them. The path to isolation leads through the internet. If the only way you keep in touch with friends and family is through status updates, you’re missing out on the social interactions and social intelligence we rely on as a basic need. Even more damaging is the way we often compare our lives with others we see on the internet. Remember, relationships require honest communication, which isn’t often included on someone’s social media highlight reel.

Foster a Passion

Developing your passion is a major step in the journey to happiness. Children are encouraged to explore their interests, yet somewhere along the way we often lose sight of what was once important to us. Or maybe it’s time to discover a new passion! From learning new skills to doing more of what you love, spring is the perfect time to get in touch with your inner toddler and see where he or she takes you. “Allow the unique you to blossom!”

Nothing happens overnight. Changes come slowly and subtly. Seasonal and life transitions are imperfect road maps to the future. It is up to you to make the best of them. Feel that you are improving every day and you will. As I’ve said in Creating a Healthy Life, “Take pleasure in every minor success.”

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