How Spring Cleaning is Good for the Mind
How Spring Cleaning is Good for the Mind by Matti Baldassari, MA, LMFT
Reposted from LACAMFT Voices, https://lacamft.org/how-spring-cleaning-is-good-for-the-mind/
With the onset of the spring season, many people often undertake that classic ritual and popular tradition — spring cleaning. Without question, spring cleaning is good for creating a pristine and peaceful physical space. It helps take your home to the next level for both organization and presentation. What many people do not realize, however, is that spring cleaning has many positive benefits for the mind as well.
Clutter has a lot to do with the way you think. To begin with, you should take a look at the reasons, thought patterns, and underlying issues associated with keeping items that create clutter and a dirty space. Sometimes, we are locked into the idea that we don’t have the time to clean. We believe that we will never be able to have a clean, clutter-free home on a regular basis. Since work takes up so much of our time and demands so much attention, we feel deep down inside that we don’t deserve to do something, such as cleaning our space, which is part of the self-care that promotes good mental health.
At the same time, a person might also feel that he or she is incapable of cleaning. In other words, we feel we are not good at cleaning and not up to the challenge.
Occasionally, there are deeper issues of control underlying this feeling. How often have we heard of a person who feels that his or her life is out of control so he or she becomes caught in obsessive-compulsive patterns of cleaning. Indeed, such people may believe they need to clean to “stay sane.”
Instead of falling into this destructive pattern, you can turn spring cleaning into an asset in your life by focusing on progress and not perfection. You do not have to clean perfectly and leave your home looking like a television advertisement for a cleaning product. Rather, you can focus on making progress by simply cleaning at a moderate pace and doing a decent job. By making some progress, however small, you can access the psychological benefits of spring cleaning.
Below are some of these psychological benefits of spring cleaning you may enjoy if you decide to undertake the task. These positives can be used as motivation to engage in what may seem somewhat overwhelming. Just take it one step at a time. As we say again and again, “progress not perfection.”
1) Spring Cleanliness Can Create Happiness
In a more ordered home, people often feel a greater sense of stability and fulfillment. A clutter-free and sparkling home environment tends to create increased levels of happiness and feelings of well-being. A 2010 UCLA study found that having a clean home reduces the risk of depression. What’s more, a series of new surveys suggest that 83 percent of British people believe that happiness is equated with a clean house. In fact, the very act of cleaning gives 57 percent of the British the sensation within of feeling good. Psychological analyst Phillip Hodson explains, “Cleanliness may be next to godliness but the British put cleanliness next to happiness.” Maybe you will find that you do, too.
2) Exercise that Doesn’t Include the Gym
Could this be a free pass to skip the gym? Spring cleaning burns calories and it’s good for the mind at the same time. How’s that for a double-reward? Check out these statistics — 30 minutes of vacuuming burns about 90 calories, while 30 minutes of cleaning windows can burn 125 calories, and cleaning bathroom tubs and tiles may burn about 220 calories. Have you ever become out of breath while trying to make your bathroom look perfectly clean? As exercise releases endorphins, it has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, and ADHD to name a few of the mental benefits. Your bathroom doesn’t need to look perfect, but a little effort definitely goes a long way.
3) Spring Cleaning Reduces Allergy Symptoms
Your physical health can improve in another way as well. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), spring cleaning helps reduce allergy symptoms. Allergies can decrease a person’s ability to ward off mental health issues. Furthermore, improved physical health greatly impacts your sense of satisfaction and well-being.
4) Spring Cleaning Sharpens Concentration and Improves Productivity
The act of placing a living space in order helps a person place their own psychological state in order. In other words, spring cleaning is good for the mind and for your optimism as well. When you do not have to waste time looking for things in a chaotic environment, your concentration improves. If you are no longer being distracted by tons of extra stuff around the house, your productivity will be boosted through an increased ability to focus and stay on point.
5) Spring Clean and Improve Your Finances
In our society of consumerism and “more is better,” it can be hard to throw away those things that by their very existence make you feel like you have an advantage in the game of wealth and status. We often buy things based on how they make us feel. We rarely focus on what we actually need. Sometimes, having “more” makes us feel more powerful. However, many of the possessions that you donate will turn out to be tax-deductible if you donate to a designated place. Thus, in a way, you really are creating greater wealth and so-called “power” by discarding. Cleaning out and making a conscious effort to use other coping skills besides shopping to feel better also can help to break the “shop and acquire” cycle.
6) Why Do I Still Feel Good While Discarding?
I understand the benefits of spring cleaning, but where do I start? This is a good question that many people ask before beginning. Marie Kondo, author of the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, asserts that you should focus on keeping what brings you joy. She encourages you to take a possession in your hand and notice how it makes you feel. Kondo also provides her readers with a methodology to approach the challenges of what to sift through, what to discard, and what to find a home for. She says first start with clothes, then go to books. After books, focus on papers and miscellaneous items. Finally, take on the challenge of the hardest category — sentimental items. Kondo believes you should clean “all in one go,” instead of throwing out one item a day. By doing it all at once, you will be able to reach your goal of completion.
After all, the goal of spring cleaning is not to be perfect, but to make progress and improve your overall environment. Nobody can ever be perfect when it comes to spring cleaning. However, by focusing on progress and being happy with what you are able to accomplish, you will achieve an improvement in the way that your home looks and feels. A major part of that success will be the realization that spring cleaning is not only good for your home, but good for your mind as well.
Matianna Baldassari, MA LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Kundalini yoga teacher at Pacific MFT Network in Santa Monica. Matti specializes in private practice at helping clients struggling with family issues, managing emotions, and anxiety. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 424.254.9611.
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