Spring 2023 has officially begun! Soon, we’ll wake to the sounds of birds singing, the warmth of the sun on our skin, and the fresh, airy smells of this early season of renewal. What a welcomed change! In recent blog posts, we explored some heavy yet critical topics like suicide prevention, workforce challenges, Narcan distribution, and navigating grief during the holiday season. Just like hanging up your bulky winter coat for the season, we would like to shift a bit to a renewed and lighter focus on ways to “spring clean” the mind.
Spring cleaning can be so much more than decluttering your cupboards or wiping down windows (though refreshing your space can undoubtedly positively affect your mental wellness- see related article). This new season is also the perfect opportunity to spend some time reflecting and refreshing your mindset.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Rest. Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your mental wellness- it helps you to manage stress better, improves your overall mood, and promotes heart health, among a host of other benefits. Since sleep is foundational to mental health, relooking at your sleep routines and finding ways to get better rest might be an important aspect of your spring cleaning this year. You might reconsider your sleep schedule and the quality of your sleep environment, exercise to boost sleep quality, avoid screens before bed, or address any sleep concerns with your trusted physician.
- Let go. Release feelings like anger, sadness, and fear that may be left over from the past and holding you back. Of course, this occurs through a process and can sometimes be difficult to do. It can be helpful to sit and reflect on the emotions and/or memories you have that keep you feeling stuck. Acknowledge how those things have impacted you. Consider writing them down in a journal if writing is helpful for you. Then, actively, and consciously begin to release these thoughts and emotions from your mind so that you can begin to move forward. In other words, fold those old jeans that are too tight and that you don’t need to keep in your closet. Take them to the thrift store and leave them behind.
- Manage your stress. We all experience stressful events in our lives. Stressors can be positive (like planning a vacation), or negative (like losing your job or relationship difficulties), but both positive and negative stressors can impact your mental health. Click HERE for a detailed list of effective ways to manage stress in daily life.
- Learn something new. Find a topic or hobby you would genuinely be interested in learning more about and start learning! This provides you with an opportunity to concentrate on a task and helps to reduce boredom, but it can also impact your mind and the way you view yourself. Learning something new can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Be kind to yourself. Sometimes our inner monologues can be harsh and downright mean, honestly. Self-compassion is a word that means treating oneself with kindness and care. One good question to ask yourself to gauge your level of self-compassion is, “what would I say to my best friend in this situation, and how would I say it.” Very often, we speak more kindly to our friends than we do ourselves. Offer yourself grace and kind words/gestures on a daily basis. You can offer yourself validation in acknowledging your struggle (“things have been really hard lately”). Here are some podcasts on the topic of self-compassion if you’re interested in learning more.
These are just a few of many areas where you can make small changes and see huge positive changes to your mental wellness. We hope this has jumpstarted your mental spring cleaning this year and that you will continue thinking of ways to refresh.