What's behind the yearly ritual of Spring Cleaning? Does a guilt trip threaten if you don't get scrubbing? Or might something deeper propel our excitement to recirculate fresh air throughout our homey spaces?
Spring cleaning as we know it is based on practices from generations ago. In days gone by, many homes were cold and drafty, lit with whale oil or kerosene and heated with wood and coal. Soot and grime residue accumulated throughout. When the threat of rough weather subsided and spring beckoned, people opened windows and doors, beat dust out of rugs and bedding, and polished floors and windows.
Even though our walls aren’t covered with oil or coal, spring still signifies a time to clean, organize and shake loose heavy winter days. For those of us with families and full-time jobs, the task of thorough house cleaning seems overwhelming. Yet when finally accomplished, the house seems to float above the ground. It is lighter and feels less encumbered by the accumulation of stuff. We, too, feel lighter.
Bottom line: Spring cleaning marks a change of seasons. It's a time of shedding dirt and things no longer fitting us and our space. Don’t stop here ... your car and workspace could use a dust and a spritz too!
How is Spring Cleaning Different than Spring Clearing?
Cleaning is an external activity of spaces and physical objects. Clearings release internal baggage, old ideas and misunderstandings contained by the inner self. Both tasks when completed yield similar outcomes - we get the chance to begin again.
When we let go of what confines us, we breathe more fully. We allow ourselves to make room for what matters most. Cleaning is outer work. Clearing is inner work. Together they equal a simple formula: Cleaning + Clearing = Clarity. Read more about how to read the signs when it's time to let go.
Key to Spring Clearing
Clear the body.
The physical body benefits from periodic breaks from eating and routines. Consider trying a popular one-day fast. Research shows a one-day fast hits the body’s reset button. Schedule the fast on a day with less demands. For a great overview on how to complete a one-day fast, check out this helpful article.
If you’re not ready for a full fasting day, how about a half day? Or you could eliminate just one item that overloads your system. Blue Zones has a list of foods that are known to put you in a good mood.
Clear emotional boundaries.
Consider scenarios from this past week which made you feel unsettled, lonely or emotionally drained. These red flags usually show up when a boundary has been crossed. When encountering a boundary crossing we toss and turn in our sleep, get stressed out and feel yanked out of our comfort zone. The fastest way to return to peace of mind is to look at our emotional boundaries and determine how a different emotional response may yield a healthier outcome.
For example, when you attend a family party you get cornered by a certain cousin who always has something to say or comment on about family members. Because this behavior is common knowledge, family members avoid this cousin.You feel frustrated when you seem to be the only one who “sucks it up” and engages for the sake of being respectful and caring. At the same time you want to spend time with others and create happy memories. What should you do? The Positive Psychology Program has lots of great tips and worksheets to identify and adjust boundaries. They will help to clear out what doesn’t empower you, and explain how to use more effective techniques.
Clear the mental filter.
If I had a dollar for every negative thought I’ve collected over the years I’d be a billionaire! Spring is ideal for checking in with your mental bank account. What thoughts have yielded no returns? What thoughts have generated positive and over the top gains?
Exercise: Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Label one column Negative Thoughts and the other column Positive Thoughts. Sit in silence for a few minutes and observe what crawls into your headspace. Jot down what you hear. Circle the items you want to clear, and replace them with new thoughts. Put the new thoughts on your phone, fridge and desk. Practice, practice, practice!
Clear spiritual junk.
Today’s news headlines along with happenings in our daily lives can build up grit and grime. Although we may not have a specific name for it, our spirits seem heavy and lost. To figure out if you need a spiritual clearing, ask yourself these questions. Come and see me if you need help discovering the answers.
- Do I have feelings of not belonging on this earth?
- Do I act like a zombie just going through the motions of life?
- Has my inner bounce left the building and I don’t know how to retrieve it?
- Do I experience long periods of boredom, fear and hopelessness?
Imagine how your life can be if you take advantage of these spring cleaning and clearings ideas! May your cleaning and clearing stories lift you up and out of the dirt and weight of winter.