When you think about spring cleaning, you probably think of clearing the clutter out of your closet or vacuuming your living room. Spring cleaning is renowned as the time of year during March and April when people are encouraged to finally complete the cleaning, organizing, and decluttering chores they’ve been avoiding for months. It’s a chance to start the season right by polishing your surroundings and putting everything back in its place.
If you’re like most people, though, the parts of your world that are in the most desperate need of spring cleaning are not your bathroom cabinets or your desk drawers. In fact, the most life-changing spring-cleaning tasks don’t actually have anything to do with cleaning at all. This spring, hold off on dusting and vacuuming. Instead, use spring cleaning season as an opportunity to reassess your life, organize your priorities, clean up your relationships, and declutter your mind.
1. Clean Up Your Diet
The foods you choose to put into your body on a regular basis play a major role in how healthy, happy, and energetic you feel throughout the day. Unfortunately, most people are guilty of filling their daily diets with foods rich in sugar, fat, and calories and low in nutrition. Spring-cleaning your diet can make a huge positive difference in how you feel, both mentally and physically.
If you’re having trouble committing to cleaning up your diet, try to pinpoint the source of your bad eating habits. Do you feel like you don’t have enough time in your daily schedule to cook healthy meals? Try weekly meal prep or pick up ready-made salads from the grocery store on your lunch break. Do you use food as an emotional outlet or cure for boredom? Every time you feel a mood-based craving coming on, distract yourself by absorbing yourself in another attention-consuming task. Try jogging around the block or organizing the overflowing junk drawer in your kitchen.
2. Un-Commit to Re-Commit
From trying to progress in your career to maintaining a social life to paying enough attention to your kids, most modern women have a lot to handle in their everyday lives. With so many responsibilities to juggle, it’s not too surprising that many women find themselves stressed and stretched much too thin.
Taking back your commitments can make you feel like a failure, but sometimes it’s necessary for the good of your mental health and your life as a whole. Try scaling back in small ways. If you volunteer at the library eight hours per week, cut down your weekly volunteer time down to five hours. If you head up three different committees at work, delegate your leadership of one to a trusted coworker. Un-commiting to superfluous responsibilities in your life takes stress out of your schedule. Plus, it gives you the chance to re-commit yourself more fully to the things that are really important to you.
3. Switch Up Your Routine
Maintaining the same routine for months or years on end might feel comfortable, but too much stagnation in your life can also lead to boredom and depression.
Make an effort to switch up your routine this spring. Instead of running on the treadmill in your home office every morning, attend an exercise class at your local gym. Plan a date night with your partner that doesn’t include the restaurant you’ve been to fifty times as your final destination. You don’t have to change your entire schedule. Just focus on making small changes to add interest and challenge to your routine.
4. Put Away Your Phone
Your tech use is likely one of the biggest drains on your time and energy. It’s way too easy to get completely absorbed in your smartphone or computer screen. When you let technology take over your life, you stop paying attention to your offscreen life that’s happening around you.
Leave your phone on do not disturb when you’re with other people to get more joy out of the quality time you spend with friends and family. Put away all your electronics–cell phone, laptop, etc.–at least two hours before you go to bed to get higher quality sleep during the night. You might be surprised how much less stressful life becomes when you take tech out of the equation sometimes.
5. Drop a Bad Habit
Everyone has vices. Everyone tells themselves that they’ll work on breaking their bad habits, but few people actually make much progress in that area. Make this spring the time you really follow through with dropping the bad habits that plague your life and relationships.
An effective way to break a bad habit for good is to identify the source of that habit and remove it from your life. If going shopping makes it hard for you to keep your credit card in check, cancel your weekly trip to the mall. You can also try positive visualization. Every time you’re tempted to indulge in a negative habit, pause for a moment. Think about all the reasons why your life would be better if you didn’t give into your temptation.
6. Define Your Goals
Having clear, significant goals to work toward is an important part of keeping yourself interested and excited and staving off boredom in your life.
Goals take work, but the process of working toward them shouldn’t make you miserable. Focus on the most important parts of your life, like your relationships and career. Try to set small, achievable goals for improvement in these areas. If you’re happy with your job and your social life, set goals for personal enrichment instead. Commit yourself to reading a classic novel every month. Or, sign up for a weekly class in a foreign language you’ve always wanted to learn.
7. Nix the Negativity
Negativity–whether it’s in your romantic relationships, friendships, job, or your own head–brings nothing but stress and discontent into your life.
This spring, try to remove negativity from three areas of your life: your career, your interpersonal relationships, and your relationship with yourself. If you stress yourself out by bringing your work home with you every night, force yourself to leave that stack of paperwork in the office until morning. When you start to notice that one of your “friends” does nothing but judge and belittle you when you spend time together, cancel your standing lunch date with her without guilt. If you tend to berate yourself over small mistakes and setbacks, focus on positive self-talk and ban negative words like “stupid” and “worthless” from the vocabulary in your mind.
You don’t have to dread spring-cleaning your life like you dread cleaning out your garage or washing your windows. This spring, work on making small improvements in every area of your life to create more health and happiness that lasts much longer than a car wash.