Spring Cleaning: Decluttering for Wellness
Every year, my mother made a huge deal about spring cleaning. Maybe it was the sunlight that gave her more energy, but we were dusting, sorting and purging every weekend right around Easter.
As an adult, I maintain the tradition -- getting my house in order in springtime -- but the older I get, the more I focus on keeping my “house” in order throughout the year. This is more than an annual feat. This is a daily commitment and it's way more important than typical housekeeping.
We collect and hoard a lot of junk. Other people’s opinions and expectations. Worries. Fears. Doubts. Negatives thoughts. Even the strongest people have a bag of emotional junk needs to be tossed out. We’re all human and prone to being weighed down, but we’re also capable of freeing ourselves from unnecessary pressures.
In the three sections below, check out tips for spring cleaning and decluttering that apply to your spirit, your schedule and your space. The first two "houses" have to be in order for the tidiness of your physical location to really matter.
Declutter Your Spirit
Spiritual Wellness is, in my opinion, the most important out of all nine categories of wellness. It establishes your higher calling and fortifies the truth that each one of us is a priceless being regardless of where we’ve come from.
You can reconnect with your Spiritual Wellness by doing the following —
- Reflect on a scripture or quote that models or inspires peace in your life. My go-to is Luke 8:24-25. This scripture reminds me that worrying about anything is futile because God’s in control.
- Make a list of all the day-to-day "areas" of your life. Work, side businesses, finances, marriage/partnership, parenting, professional and social organizations, your kid's school/PTO commitments, church, close family, friends, etc.
- Categorize them on a continuum ranging from calm to chaotic. Honesty and self awareness are key here. You may not be able to create this list all in one sitting. It may require prayer, meditation and self-reflection, but follow your gut and make placements as they come to you.
- Take stock of the chaotic end and consider options for reducing the stress that each area brings you.
- If a critical aspect of life like parenting is on the side of chaos, steps toward stress reduction could include counseling (family or individual), joining a support group or scheduling in a self-care day to simply take a break.
- If it's a volunteer commitment or something that is totally optional, the lowest hanging opportunity for stress-relief may be to simply walk away. If your departure from a role will cause chaos in the lives of others, it is fair to develop a transition plan, but if you are really struggling and you don't have to be involved, simply let it go.
- Take action. This isn't an automatic or easy process, but the most important thing is to take steps toward Spiritual Wellness. Removing or reforming a chaotic aspect of your life could be something you have to reinforce multiple times by creating and restating boundaries, but consistency is key. If the process of execution is overwhelming, then break it down. Spread out action steps in your planner or on your calendar. That way, you experience the benefits of incremental progress.
Declutter Your Schedule
- Accept the fact that super(s)hero status is only real in the comics. You CANNOT do it all. Period.
- Clarify or reconnect with what is most important to you. There's a famous quote by some famous football coach (whose name I have forgotten) who said that the three most important things to him were God, family and football, "in that order." Modeling that candidness, I outlined my four, which are my body, my baby, my business and my block.
- For me, God is the foundation for everything, which is why I strive to live an intentional, impactful life, so I didn't personally feel the need to list it out. However, what I have listed is what I have to keep in mind daily and in that order.
- If I'm not taking care of my body, I'm a goner. I have to take care of my health -- mentally and physically. That has to come first even when it feels awkward. I have to be physically well to care for my baby.
- Drink Water
- Eat Mindfully
- Move Naturally
- Remember that stress is a killer
- As a single mother, I have to show up everyday without fail. My child depends on me for every aspect of his day. As he grows older, sure, he gains independence, but it's on me to guide him when he's with me 80% of each year. I also never want him to feel like a burden. He's not. He's a joy, even on the days when I'm just tired from life. So, I keep him at the top.
- Then comes work/professional endeavors. This is important because I had to get real with myself about the amount of energy that my job as a fundraiser requires. When I was on the road two or three days per week and still piling on volunteer commitments because I felt obligated to do so, I was stressed beyond belief. Working requires downtime. Your brain and body have to rest. "Free" hours aren't up for grabs. Be honest with yourself about the demands that work places on your spirit and that you will need both regular and spontaneous time to recharge.
- Fourth is my block. I am naturally a joiner. I like to feel useful. I have been involved in independently-identified community activities since high school -- and even earlier if you count my Girl Scout days. It is great in some ways and horrible in others. This led me down the path of doing too much on many occasions. Telling myself to contain my activities to my "block," or my neighborhood, helps me feel less anxiety when I have to say no to other requests for service. When my son's school asked me to serve on the PTO, I was able to be clear about my available time and boundaries. Even when it comes to servicing my immediate community, I no longer feel the need to do everything I'm asked to do. Doing something well is good enough.
- Plan your days around your "must-dos" and always incorporate some aspect of self-care into your musts. Remember, every open hour or day doesn't have to be filled for outside benefit. Wellness and family come first.
- Stick to your boundaries and reflect on your top priorities as often as needed to maintain security in your choices.
Declutter Your Space
I firmly believe that your space should reflect your desired mindset.
Emhpasis on the word "desired."
It embodies the fact that we may have "off-days." We may not always feel outstanding, but if you can manage to get up and do something small like make your bed every morning or clear the dishes out of your sink each evening, you won't have a visual reminder of disarray.
In a day-to-day sense, handling all of the housework alone can be overwhelming, but this is where self-awareness and boundaries come in. If you have a spouse, be sure to have an honest conversation about shared household duties. If you have children who are old enough to help, assign them duties. They live there, too. If you have the means (but limited energy), then outsource tasks like housekeeping and lawn care. Who cares what someone else will think about it! Support a small business while supporting yourself!
Here are a few things I can personally recommend:
- Purge clothes and "stuff" before birthdays and holidays. If I'm entering a season that will likely result in gifts coming into my home, I make room by getting rid of unused items before allowing new ones it inside.
- Ask people to skip gifts. If they really want to spend money, suggest that they consider experiences instead.
- When traveling, don't buy junk souvenirs. I really try to focus on experiences on vacations, too. If I do break that rule, I purchase something small that I know I'll use like pens or magnets.
- Shop at home before spending money. I don't know how many times I ended up with duplicates because I forgot I had something at home. Don't shop without thinking about what you really need. You may even realize that you can come up with an alternative all together that doesn't involve stuff/items.
- Consider downsizing. I daydream about the time to come when I can move into a tiny house. Many Americans yearn for McMansions. That's fine for those who can afford them. I moved into a larger home to accommodate my family for now, but once I can downsize, I will. Keep the downsizing process in mind over the years. Do you really want to comb through decades of old greeting cards and broken toys when your children are in college? Ten sets of linens for a three-bedroom house? A cupboard full of pots and pans for a four-burner stove and two-shelf oven? Holiday lights that stopped working 16 years ago? Clothes from three dream sizes ago? L.E.T. I.T. G.O..............
Recall that here at Mahogany Manifesto, you are encouraged to leverage daily planning and journaling as opportunities for personal reflection about your wellness. When a wellness-mindset becomes routine, that's a significant part of the battle. Incorporating self-care on a regular basis helps you get clear on what stays and what goes. "Decluttering for wellness" may sound hokie, but the more you do it, the less you'll have to clear out as junk because only what's for you will be consistently present.
Check out Mahogany Manifesto's Pinterest site for more decluttering tips, especially in terms of Environmental Wellness.