Sugar and Spice Advice: The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

Cleaning supplies
Cleaning supplies

Continuing on the lovely topic of spring cleaning, here are some ideas. Did you know that there are health benefits to washing the windows, getting rid of cobwebs, tossing out those old magazines and newspapers? Well, it is true. Just as Marie Kondo said in her book and most of us know, clutter compounds stress. When you have a place for everything, and it is actually in its place, you are better able to focus your energy on work, hobbies, exercise, and rest. Looking for car keys under piles of stuff when you are running late can stress you out. Studies show that the more disorganized an area the harder it is to think, work, and relax. Clutter is a small reflection of chaos in your life. Cleaning and discarding can help to simplify your existence.

Some simple tips: clean out your fridge at least once a month, keep walkways and stairs free of clutter, make your bed every day, and please oh please, don’t use it as another surface for stuff to collect on – hang up your clothes.

Light physical activity such as cleaning actually eases muscle tension and provides some aerobic activity. As you reach with the vacuum or bend down to scour the tub, you actually circulate blood to your brain. The benefit? Increased blood flow to the brain which can help with mental clarity.

Pick things up off the floor so people don’t trip. Put the item away where it belongs so that when you need it you don’t have to send out a search party.

Cut down the amount of stuff in your closet. Marie Kondo doesn’t like this idea but I will toss it in anyway. If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t so get rid of it. (Marie’s method of discarding as mentioned in her book is to hold the item. If it doesn’t spark joy it is time for the item to leave.) Perhaps you have been holding on to that dress with the intention of losing 10 pounds so you can look good in it. How long have you had that intention? One idea it to send it to a thrift store and find a dress that fits your current weight. When you do reach your goal, congratulate yourself with a new dress instead of a piece of cheesecake.

If you have a hard time deciding whether or not to keep something, ask a friend to help you decide. If an item has sentimental value, but you have no real use for it, take a picture of it, and then donate the item or pass it on to someone for whom it would be perfect or donate it. Letting go of sentimental things can make more room for clear thinking, productivity, and peace.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Years ago my mother gave me one of her mom’s many diamond rings. Now I know that Elizabeth Taylor would say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and it is true. However, I am not into huge rings, even if it has diamonds. I had kept it for years and didn’t want to wear it. I’d open my jewelry box and see it, but it just didn’t fit me. I kept it because it was my grandmother’s. Even when money was very tight and I could have sold it I did not. I tried wearing it to church. I’d never wear it to work as I could lose it when I took off my gloves or washed my hands. I looked at it periodically during services and it just didn’t fit my style. It actually felt cumbersome. I put it back in the jewelry box and never wore it again.

Eventually we were strapped financially and I had to pawn it. I made the payments to get it back, but I honestly didn’t want it. I ended up selling it to the jewelry store. I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of receiving my grandma’s ring, but after years of holding on to it, I found it didn’t spark joy when I held it, and so getting rid of it was not a big loss. One less item to have around the house to feel guilty about. It may sound callous, and I really am not that kind of person, but honestly, I am glad it is gone.

Try some spring cleaning and discarding for yourself, and feel your mind’s load lightened.

Happy Spring!

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