Although most of us would think of spring cleaning as an annual housekeeping chore (& maybe a chance for a little physical exercise), there’s data to show that it can also be a great way to promote good mental health habits and conduct some self-care. In this blog, we explore why freshening and “spring cleaning” your living space – and your brain – can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being & mental health.
How Can Spring Cleaning Your Living Space Help Your Mental Health?
- A Sense of Control & Accomplishment. Spring cleaning is a great way to take charge over creating a fresh, organized & appealing living space. Completing spring cleaning can also create a (legit!) sense of accomplishment, which is a confidence booster and could also inspire you to take on another project or goal you’ve been considering.
- Reduced Stress. Stress levels can increase with the piles and clutter. It’s difficult to enjoy and relax in your living space when it’s in disarray or dirty. Tackling the issue, even one task at a time, can bring a renewed sense of calm as your surroundings improve and goals are accomplished.
- It Signifies a Fresh Start. The spring season represents fresh beginnings / new life. Completing spring cleaning tasks can help you make that same shift in your mind, and approach other aspects of your life with a fresh new attitude.
- Improved Mood. Having an organized and tidy living space makes it a more pleasant experience to spend personal time / socialize there, which can boost your mood.
- Focus on Finances. Spring cleaning can help you locate misplaced bills, tax receipts or important documents that need to be safeguarded. It can also help you identify wasteful spending habits or opportunities to trim / reorganize your monthly budget. Getting your financial “house” in order can be a huge relief and is a first step towards improved financial management. And spring cleaning can help.
- Improved Social Connections. It’s difficult to feel open about sharing your living space with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues when it’s cluttered or dirty. A cleaner space makes it easier and more comfortable to invite people into your space, which is a great way to foster supportive social connections.
- Relief from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons and is characterized by increased sadness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and an overall lack of energy during the fall and winter months. Especially for individuals struggling with SAD, spring cleaning can aid in symptom relief because it’s a reminder that the weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer again.
- Helps Regulate Emotions. The act of spring cleaning itself can offer a calming effect during overwhelming situations, because it requires you to focus on the task at hand and slow down, helping you explore and manage your emotions.
- One Good Habit Can Lead to More! Getting your spring cleaning done may inspire you to make positive changes in other areas of your life. For example, when the kitchen is clean, preparing meals at home is easier (vs. ordering take-out); a peaceful bedroom makes creating a healthy sleep routine more appealing; a more tidy and efficient space gives you time / opportunities for walks around the neighborhood. Little changes can have an impact.
What if You Just Don’t Have the Energy for Spring Cleaning Today?
Feelings of stress, exhaustion, guilt, or feeling overwhelmed by mounting chores can make it harder to find the energy to clean things up. Don’t force it; do as much or as little as you can manage:
- Tackle just one room, or even one task, at a time
- Allocate an amount of time you can dedicate, and do what you can
- Get organized by starting a To-Do list
Every single effort is an accomplishment, is something to check off that list. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself:
- What spring cleaning task is the best use of my time & energy?
- Is there a specific task I’d feel really good about completing?
- What might take the least effort, or the type of energy I’m able to give today?
- What will have the biggest impact / payoff for me?
And if you can’t manage spring cleaning today, that’s OK too.
“Spring Clean” Your Brain, Too
The start of a new season is often a good time to also consider a transition (a “spring cleaning” of sorts) within your mind, to feel the mental boost of starting with a clean slate. A refreshed and optimized living space can also inspire a positive spill-over effect into other areas of your life. Just like spring cleaning, it will take a little time, effort and energy, but here are a few of the best things you can put on your self-care To-Do list, even if you need to take them on one at a time:
- Regulate your sleep schedule
- Get active / move more
- Eat heath(ier) foods
- Practice mindfulness meditation
- Foster positive social connections /relationships with those in your support network
- Seek therapy if you need more support
IntraSpectrum Counseling is Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, and we strive to provide the highest quality mental health care for multicultural, kink, polyamorous, and intersectional issues. For anyone needing affirming and validating support, please click here to get started.