Spring is all about fresh starts and new beginnings. Cold, dark days are finally behind us and we can already taste the endless days of summer on the horizon. I’ve gone stir crazy over the winter and most of us start to get those sudden urges to perform the annual deep scrub and extensive purge known as “spring cleaning.” There’s something really satisfying about finally organizing those boxes you’ve been stepping over in the basement or halving the build-up in your closet by donating all the gently worn clothing you don’t ever wear anymore. With so much extra space, the world is your oyster. Now, imagine if you could replicate that satisfying feeling and sense of clarity in all aspects of your life. Spring cleaning shouldn’t just be about organizing your house and finally cleaning behind the fridge. If the rest of your life feels just as messy and congested as your cardboard box-filled basement but you’d rather feel a sense of clarity all the time, then carry your cleaning supplies into these other areas of your life.
1. Deep Clean Your Social Circle
Many of our real-life relationships can cause more stress than positivity. Whether they’re friendships or acquaintanceships, relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial. This doesn’t mean you should only talk to someone if they could do something for you, but who we choose to surround ourselves with has a huge bearing on who we are as a person and on our mental health. Surround yourself with people you want to be like, people who inspire you and make you happy, and rid yourself of those toxic friendships that are draining you. Prioritize your inner circle and spend more time with people who leave you feeling inspired and encouraged (albeit exhausted, if you’re an introvert). Toxic relationships put our bodies under an incredible amount of stress which can lead to any number of serious health conditions. Unnecessary stressors should be the first thing to go this spring-cleaning purge, with toxic relationships leading the front.
2. Scrub Your Social Media
Social media can be a really powerful tool. It connects us with like-minded friends, provides us with parenting hacks or fashion tips, and keeps us up to date on the lives of the people we love;, but it is also the cause of a lot of unnecessary stress. Constantly scrolling through horrifying news coverage, feeling obligated to post a consistent photo or story, and comparing your life to the picture-perfect influencer couple who is somehow still on vacation in Bali can leave you feeling pretty bleak. Sift through the accounts you follow and purge any ones that don’t make you feel happy or don’t make you feel motivated. Like your social circle, take back control of who you surround yourself with and who you interact with. Turn social media into a positive aspect of your life rather than a soul sucking experience that you just can’t seem to back away from.
3. Schedule Time to Unwind
Quit feeling like you need to be doing something all day every day or else you're being lazy, and definitely quit mistaking “I’m busy” with “I’m not doing anything.” Sometimes you need to write “doing nothing” in your calendar to give yourself a little R&R, and that’s an appointment you don’t want to break. Giving yourself a chance to unwind is kind of like spring cleaning, but for your brain. Find something that gives you even peace and helps you feel relaxed and carve out time for it as often as possible. If your idea of unwinding is sitting on the couch watching cat videos on YouTube, then make time for that. And when someone asks you what you’re doing, don’t say “nothing”, tell them you already have plans, you’re having “me time” and that’s every bit as important as plans with others.
I know I can’t be the only person who feels like they spend as much time in their email account deleting spam from websites I don’t even remember subscribing to as I do responding to actual emails. And I have to open them because otherwise I’ll have that taunting “+1” notification symbol on my mail app cluttering my phone's home screen. Spring clean your inbox by unsubscribing as soon as you open a pointless newsletter. Take ten seconds now to save your future an immeasurable amount of time you would have otherwise wasted sifting through trash. There’s also nothing more satisfying than having no notifications on your little mail icon.
5. Rediscover Old Joys
How often do you find yourself reminiscing about the past by saying “I used to love to do (insert name of super random “childish” activity here).” As adults we often get caught up in doing the things we feel like we should be doing and forget life is supposed to be fun - that isn’t just something for childhood. Take time to think about what small things and experiences have brought you the most joy throughout your lifetime and rediscover those lost loves. Who cares if what you want to do is considered childish? If you used to love swinging on swing sets and playing hopscotch, then bust out the old chalk bin and get hopscotch-ing.
6. Rebuild Your Sleep Schedule
Pictured: Verie, Daffodil Pajama Set
I’m sure I’m not the only one who falls into a near bear-like hibernation schedule during the winter months. Start being proactive in your quality of sleep by finding a sleep schedule that works for you and stick with it. We all have different optimal amounts of sleep, so the “recommended amount” isn’t necessarily what works best for you. Figure out your perfect number of hours and as often as you can, and try to go to bed at the same time every night. Science shows that people who have a consistent sleep schedule experience higher emotional stability and improved concentration and productivity when compared to more sporadic sleeping (CBC). Sleeping consistency also allows our bodies to reinforce that circadian rhythm so we fall asleep quicker at night - no more lying awake trying to calculate how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep right….. now!
7. Revamp Your Workout Routine
Exercising shouldn’t be a chore. If you feel like you’re having to give yourself a pep talk before finally convincing yourself to go to the gym or lace up your shoes for a run, then you’ve haven’t found the right activity. We all have unique interests and life goals, and that should be reflected in our own fitness life. Staying physically fit doesn’t have to mean choosing between going to a grungy gym a few times a week or running endless miles on a treadmill. There are literally infinite ways and resources for you to explore your own personal fitness journey. While training for an Ironman triathlon may be just the thrill one person needs, a bi-weekly yoga class, or weekend hikes at a State Park are also perfectly viable forms of exercise to pursue. Most cities offer adult sports leagues and exercise groups that could add a social incentive to stick to your fitness goals if you’re someone who has trouble self-motivating. Your workout routine should be like school recess but for adults - you’re having such a good time you don’t even realize you’re burning energy.
8. Organize Your Diet
Start planning meals in advance so you don’t have to try to decide what to make for dinner after a long day at work. You’ll inevitably just end up ordering-in for the third time this week. (Not at all speaking from personal experience here). Figure out what meals you’re going to make and do a big grocery run. That way you have everything you need and can prepare food in advance. Prep veggies for grab-and-go snacks, do a week's worth of meal prep to keep in the fridge, or make a frozen lasagna, so that you can always say “No, I don’t need to stop at the drive-thru, we have dinner at home.” You’ll start saving money almost immediately and your body will thrive knowing what to expect at mealtime. I understand that figuring out what food to make every night and going grocery shopping isn’t for everyone, so you can sign up for food delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, who will deliver fresh ingredients to your door for you to cook yourself. You can really branch out from your standard go-to meals you’re getting sick of while feeling good about your contribution to the environment by wasting less food.