As the days begin to lengthen, the plant world reawakens and the animal world birth their new generation our human impulse is to follow along and take our cues from nature. For many of us spring marks a change in routine and the beginning of a new cycle. As we retire our winter coat, change out our heavy duvets and dust down the shelves the important ritual of spring cleaning begins. This season, that evokes renewal and change, can also serve as a cue to spring clean our mind and take some time to shed any old unhelpful routines, thoughts, and behavioral patterns.
So why is it that we find that the experience of decluttering and re-organising so refreshing? Research has shown that the benefits of decluttering extend far beyond a more organized living space and boost our productivity, motivation, and creativity as well. There is also the ritualistic element of cleaning out that we often find helpful, especially as a tool for reflection and actively moving forward. In the popular book ‘ The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’, Marie Kondo suggests that we should only surround ourselves with items that spark joy, retire those items that have outlived their use, and discard those that are no longer useful. An interesting philosophy that perhaps extends beyond the four walls of our home and can also be applied to our mind.
When we spring clean our environment we are forced to take stock of our physical surroundings and begin the process of change and renewal. We realise what we have been holding on to that needs discarding and what hidden gems we already have in our possession. Decluttering our minds works in much the same way. As you turn inwards you might recognise some of the emotional baggage that you have been holding onto and coping skills that we already have that could do with being aired. We are forced to slow down and be more present, recognise our ever changing needs, and empower ourselves to actively engage in decision making regarding our future. By dusting down our habits (be they thoughts, behaviours or emotions) and asking ourselves if they are really useful we are empowering and respecting ourselves. It forces us to look at our mental well being and ask ourselves if we are happy with it.
The question of how our mind works is perhaps really the question of how our lives work. I am sure you can all relate to that feeling of living life on autopilot. Driving to work without noticing the journey, having a shower but struggling to remember if you washed your hair. When we are living in our minds distracted by worries, anxiety or fear we are rarely present in our lives. This is when we lose connection to ourselves, our environment and our lives. Decluttering the mind requires us to become intentional on where we place our attention and how we spend our time and energy.
There are many ways to do this from keeping gratitude logs and journaling, to practicing mindfulness or even going to therapy. A simple google search on ways to declutter the mind yields over 4 million results! So before you finish this article I would like to invite you to take a moment and check in with your mind. Could it, and ultimately you, benefit from a spring clean?