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Spring Cleaning for the Soul

Text by: Marnie Parker

Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
-Henry David Thoreau
Spring is truly a revitalizing and alluring season that arouses our senses as we witness Mother Nature awaking from her winter slumber. New life emerges all around us, from the petite crocuses poking their heads out of the soft earth, to the fragments of delicate eggshells strewn about the ground testifying of the life that has just broken free from its prison. The air is crisp, and the sweet scents of blossoming buds linger in the breeze.

Synonymously with spring come thoughts of spring cleaning, simplifying, organizing, and clearing out the cobwebs of our lives so to speak. I’m not one to profess a deep love of housekeeping. I do, however, immensely enjoy the finished product and bask in the idea of a clean and well-organized home. I have found a direct correlation between the cleanliness of my personal, external environment and the state of my mental health. There is something revitalizing and very satisfying about a freshly scrubbed bathroom or a newly organized closet.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

Author Emilee Tolley expressed this sentiment perfectly when she stated, “When your environment is pleasant, you’re more likely to be.”

Pondering this quote further, I realized that daily maintenance and an occasional spring-cleaning for one’s soul could also do wonders to transform one’s state of well-being. The following are suggestions of how to accomplish this internal, organizational state of bliss:

Clear Your Mind:

Write it Down and Review: Use a planner, iPhone, or Blackberry and write down your “to do lists.” No one can be expected to commit to memory every doctor’s appointment, play date, or social engagement. Take a few minutes before going to bed each night to empty your brain and review your schedule for the next day.

Post Your Game Plan: Visual reminders such as calendars or charts are great reminders and can also keep you accountable.

Cross it Off: There is something satisfying about seeing progress on paper. Try not to tackle too many things at once. Focus on one task or problem until you accomplish it, and then cross it off and move on to the next action item. 

Plan Ahead:

Prioritize and Simplify: Focus first on what is most important.

Do it Now: Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Tackle unpleasant tasks, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Dinner: Begin dinner preparations in the morning. That way, when the 5 p.m. rush begins, dinner will be all but completed. Consider making double quantities, and freeze one meal for later. This could be a lifesaver on a busy night.

Grocery Shopping: Post a menu for the week, and shop weekly with list in hand.

Take Care of Yourself:

Feed Your Spirit: Make personal meditation and reflection a regular and necessary part of your day. Consider getting up a few minutes earlier than normal and starting your day with purpose and a plan.

Feed Your Body: Commit now to making small changes in your diet and nutrition that will affect your overall health and state of well-being.

Get Moving: Find a way to get some physical exercise during the day. Even something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or choosing a parking spot at the opposite end of the lot is a start. The endorphins alone could be enough to keep a smile on your face and spring in your step, not to mention that burning more calories than usual can only be a good thing.

Reward Yourself: Try to squeeze a few minutes into your daily schedule for something that you truly love. This could be a lunch date with a friend, indulging in a good book, a long soak in the bath, or completing a craft project.

Take advantage of this delightful season not only to wash the windows and clean behind the refrigerator, but also to truly take stock of your emotional and internal organizational state of mind. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Start now with small positive changes, and enjoy the journey as you embark on the quest for a better-organized, external world and internal self.

Ideas to Simplify and Declutter your Home:

Clear out Clutter using the “SPACE” System—

© Jessica Ceason Photography
  • Sort: Identify what is important and group similar items together
  • Purge: Get rid of it! If you haven’t used it in the last year, throw it away or give it away.  Learn to separate emotions form possessions. Organize your clutter into three categories: donate, store, or trash. 
  • Assign a Home: Assign zones and areas in which the items are used most often.  Consider the arrangement of a kindergarten classroom and how each area has a particular function.   
  • Containerize: Matching bins make for easy stacking and less visual clutter. Consider baskets, pails, hatboxes, decorative cardboard boxes, or plastic totes.
  • Equalize: Maintain order. Daily maintenance is a necessity for retaining your newly organized space. Each item should have an assigned home by this point, and a quick clean up should be a piece of cake.

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If You Have a Few Minutes…..

  • Delete ten old emails
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Change the sheets on one bed
  • Dust the dash of your car
  • Write a thank-you note
  • Pick up five things and put them where they belong
  • Dust your plants
  • Clear off the top of the refrigerator
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Take out the garbage
  • Wash a window
  • Get rid of something that you haven’t worn in a year