Spring cleaning for the mind

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Spring cleaning for the mindEach spring, I can’t help but remember being back home in the Maritimes and my mother starting her yearly spring cleaning ritual. With 6 children, there was plenty of help with the monumental task of cleaning the whole house from top to bottom. Looking back, it felt like it took a week or two to completely clean our 3-story house. This ritual has been with me my whole life; for me spring means that winter is finally over and it’s now time to get out the cleaning supplies and scrub the floor, walls, and ceiling. Yes, the ceiling too! Then it’s time to de-clutter. Spring cleaning is a time to clear out old junk and start fresh.

These spring cleaning rituals make me think about spring cleaning our mind. To some extent or another, we’re all guilty of holding onto issues that we really should be letting go.  We’re overloaded. Maybe it’s holding onto anger towards a family member or ex-lover. Maybe it’s our continued promises of I’ll get to that task one day. We hold onto things that weigh us down. Spring is a good time to take stock of what we need to let go of and help ourselves start fresh. Imagine how lighter we’d feel if we could clean our minds of those old thoughts that really do nothing but give us more anguish. Like spring cleaning our house, we first must prepare our surroundings and get the supplies we need to get the job done.

5 steps for spring cleaning your mind:

  1. Schedule time to do the job: Set aside a few hours to do the task or at least take a good stab at it. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning when you have some free time or maybe you need to get out of the house and go to the nearest coffee shop.
  2. Get your supplies: Bring pen and paper or a mobile devise such as a tablet or lap top. Avoid distraction by turning off your phone and deactivating any alerts on your mobile device.  Airplane mode is a wonderful way to cut all incoming calls and alerts.
  3. Get comfortable: Prepare a nice cup of tea or your favorite drink. I’d stay away from anything alcoholic as you want a clear mind not one that will impair your judgment.
  4. Start cleaning: Make a list of some issues you’re carrying around. Think about what you need to do to let them go. Maybe it’s simply writing it down and deleting it or ripping it up. Or maybe it’s addressing this issue head on with the person or relationship that’s bothering you. Remember: the goal is to let it go not fuel the fire. Letting go is hard for most of us – if you get discouraged, remind yourself that personal growth is often uncomfortable (but still better than cleaning the ceiling!).
  5. Make a maintenance plan: Now that you have a list of what you need to do to let go of your mind clutter, decide what you’ll do for maintenance. Just like you can’t sweep the floor only once a year, a clear mind needs regular attention. Whether it’s enjoying a hobby, exercising, meditating or getting a good night’s sleep, make a commitment to yourself to do something that lifts your spirits.

At the end of your session, you’ll know what’s been weighing you down and what you’ll do to counteract that. Whatever it looks like, spring cleaning for the mind can be very liberating!

By Michel Arsenault