Spring is here! With the sun coming streaming in through the windows a little earlier, and sticking around a little later, I have started to dig through the clutter around my home and office that seems to accumulate during the winter months. You know, spring cleaning. You may be thinking about doing some spring cleaning at your house, cleaning out your own clutter. And maybe doing some work in your yard and planting the spring flowers.
There is something empowering about spring cleaning. It is a way of putting the long, cold winter behind you, and opening your house up to the fresh air and sunshine. It gets you moving again. And it seems to give us a feeling of renewed well-being. A way of welcoming happier days into our lives. A new beginning.
So how about taking your spring cleaning to a whole new level by doing some spring cleaning on the inside – your mind, your emotions, your spirit? You can use the same approach as you use in your home. Clean out what’s not benefitting you. Make space for something better. Bring in things that brighten up your life.
But Where Do I Start? Here’s Help?
Here are some ideas to help kick your spring cleaning up a notch or two:
Identify your clutter. Take a look inside and identify the areas of clutter that you might have allowed to build up in your life. What’s getting in the way of your health and well-being? Bad habits that have sneaked back in? Unhappy memories and resentments that are taking up too much space in your mind? Negative self-limiting attitudes? The starting place for your internal spring cleaning is to identify what you want to change.
Make a spring cleaning list. Go through your list and decide what your priorities are. What areas are most in need of cleaning? What’s most getting in the way of you having what you want in your life? Visualize yourself with a big broom. The goal is to sweep those dust bunnies, bag them, and take them to the curb.
Divide up the tasks. How is your support network? This might be a good time to think about the people in your life that you rely on for emotional support and who also rely on you. Have you been in touch lately? Is it time to spend some time with people you care about after hibernating all winter? Seeing a few too many empty spaces at the table? Maybe it’s time to strategize on bringing more people into your support network.
Polish the floors. What’s your foundation like these days? Your relationship with your treatment team? Your coping skills? This is a good time to take a close look at patching up the chips and scratches by spending some time online, making a few calls, and setting an appointment or two. Don’t forget that having a support network is an important part of your foundation.
Clean out your closet. Managing your self-care and the treatment regimen is a work in progress. Take a look at whatever may not fit the way that it used to. It might be time to touch base with your doctor about your regimen, including any questions that you haven’t gotten around to bringing up. Time to look at a new approach to your diet or exercise? Anything else you do to stay on top of your wellness need sprucing up? It’s important to constantly update your knowledge and your approach to managing your self-care.
Wash the windows (you may have to unseal them first). What does the world look like when you look out your window? Is your view of the world clouded over in negative thinking and self-limiting beliefs that keep you feeling trapped? You know, like when you tell yourself what you can’t do, what’s too hard, what will never happen. Sure, a chronic condition like HIV can have a big effect on your life. Look at what’s good in your life, and what’s possible. And while you’re it, negative self-talk doesn’t look good on you. Replace it with self-talk like “you’re doing okay,” “you don’t have to be perfect,” and “how about not beating up on myself?”
Let in some fresh air. One thing that life constantly teaches us that we aren’t in control of everything that happens. That also means that you don’t HAVE to be in control of everything. Identify what you can and can’t control, what you can know and what you can’t know. Relax the need to be in charge of everything. Not only are you not in control of everything, you don’t have to be in control. Isn’t that a relief? Take a few deep breaths. What you can control is your wellness. How about starting there?
Paint the ceiling a brighter color. When you look up, what do you see? Or haven’t you looked up lately? One way to approach a rough spot in your life is to tune up your spiritual life. Making a spiritual connection – whatever that means for you – can be a source of comfort during challenging times, and a way toward a clearer vision for yourself and the world around you.
And while you’re at it, you may want to actually clean your house. Your environment has a big impact on your emotions, so you might want to look around and decide how you can make your home reflect the work you are doing on the inside, and vice versa.
Caution: Remember those self-limiting attitudes? Don’t use spring cleaning as another reason to be too hard on yourself. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to happen during one long and exhausting Saturday. Making changes in your life is a process. Two steps forward, maybe a step back, and then another stop forward. Everybody progresses at their own pace. Be kind to yourself.
Spring is a state of mind. With or without the effects of winter, you can decide to do some mental spring cleaning any time that you feel like you need to clean out the cobwebs and shake yourself up. It’s always the right season of the year to become more empowered!
So… spring has sprung. How is your spring cleaning going?
Dr. Gary McClain, MS, PhD, is a psychotherapist, patient advocate, blogger, and author, specializing in helping clients deal with the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening illnesses, as well as their families and professional caregivers. His website is JustGotDiagnosed.com. His email is [email protected] He welcomes your questions and comments.