Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Spring cleaning
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Have you done your spring cleaning? Have you a list of “honey-do’s” that is rich with ways to overhaul a neglected yard, clean out and clean up a cluttered garage, and freshen up and spritz a home? As you look around, can you see dust bunnies under the furniture, streaks and fingerprints on the windows, and sticky, gooey countertops in the kitchen? Have your closets gotten cluttered, drawers disarrayed and shelves grimy? Well, it is that time of year!
In the brighter days, when we welcome the sunshine into our homes, neglected areas can seem glaring and can seem to be taunting you when you throw open the blinds and drapes and open the doors. With heightened energy, begin to make lists of areas that need your attention — areas that need to be upgraded and freshened, and areas that need a complete overhaul. But … what about you … and me? Do we need to undergo an overhaul, as well? Are we in need of a renewed freshness and a lighter step not burdened by clutter and disarray? Let’s inspect.
- The Basement. Are you still holding on to “friends” who do not have your best interest at heart, are not excited for your successes, are passive-aggressive or are possessive of your time? These are toxic relationships, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot turn a basement friend into a balcony friend (the one who cheers you on, basks in your successes and picks you up when you are hurting.) Time to detox and unburden the basement!
- The Windows and Mirrors. Are there fingerprints, streaks or filth on your “windows” that do not allow you to see the beauty of the moment? Sometimes our “filters” and the way we look at the world have become so habitually negative that we need a good wiped-down cleaning. And, same goes for our mirrors. When you look at yourself, are you seeing only your flaws and shortcomings? If so, get out the Windex. It’s time to clean the windows and mirrors in our homes so that our “filters” cleanly see the reality and beauty before us!
- The Pantry. Sometimes it is important to check the expiration date on those canned goods. What about your emotional pantry? Haven’t you held on long enough to guilt, shame, comparison, jealousy, grudges, fear, busyness and unhealthy coping practices, such as drinking, over-eating or smoking? Surely, the expiration date is too far in the past. Why not purge the pantry?
- The Attic. Have you developed the habit of throwing “stuff” in the attic to get it out of the way, only to realize that the attic is stuffed with junk? Same thing can happen to our own “attics” – our minds. For example, is your mind’s “attic” cluttered with ancient cassette tapes, vinyl records or eight-track tapes that accumulated and got stuck over time? Isn’t it time to get rid of the negative noise — the old “playlist” of Negativity’s Greatest Hits? The good news is that we are in control of what we hold on to and what we release. If the old messages in your “attic” are not positive and promoting, time to send them to the dumpster!
- Curb Appeal. Spring cleaning also means going outdoors and sprucing up the yard – mowing, edging, planting flowers, trimming shrubs. When someone drives up to your home, do you have pretty curb appeal? What about personally? Do you have positive “curb appeal”? Do an inventory of self. Do you leave the house each morning with a smile on your face and a positive attitude that radiates? Are you the ray of sunshine that others are attracted to? Sure, sometimes we have to “fake it ’til we make it,” but if we project a positive demeanor to others, before too long we realize we are no longer faking it. Let’s all work on our “curb appeal.”
Spring cleaning is not fun. However, the finished product is one of pride and satisfaction. How much more significant will it be when we do some internal spring cleaning? When we do, our “insides” radiate and our “outsides” glow. Happy spring!