Insight Behavioral Health – After a lengthy winter, our days are finally getting longer, flowers are starting to peek through the soil, and spring is in the air! This time of the year is always associated with starting anew and refreshing our lives. For many of us, that begins with the annual ritual of spring cleaning. Whether it’s tidying our yards or decluttering our homes, spring cleaning offers many benefits in our lives. But none may be more important than the positive impacts cleaning can have on our mental health and well-being. Before you gather your cleaning supplies and start writing your to-do list, learn how spring cleaning can improve your mental health in this blog from Insight Behavioral Health in Flint.
Spring Cleaning Is Something to Look Forward To
Spring cleaning is an important ritual in our lives that gives us peace of mind and something to look forward to after the dormancy of the winter months. The process of deep cleaning, moving furniture, and creating new spaces in our homes brings us a sense of renewed energy. It is also an opportunity to put the past behind us, eliminate negativity, and start a new chapter in our lives. Something many people look forward to this time of year is reassessing our belongings and downsizing. Whether you pass something along to a friend or donate items you can no longer use to charity, giving evokes gratitude, which is a foundation to happiness and well-being.
Spring Cleaning Makes Us Happier
Many people dread the thought of cleaning because they think it requires a lot of time, energy, and effort. Yet research shows that even an hour of work around the house can lead to as much as a 53% increase in happiness. If you find yourself struggling to get started, try focusing on one room or project at a time. The feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction you get after a job well done will propel you to stay on track and continue to meet your goals. The process of decluttering and giving back or donating can also make you happier, as mentioned above. According to the Cleveland Clinic, giving stimulates the brain’s mesolimbic pathway (commonly known as our reward center), while releasing endorphins. This results in a “helper high” that boosts self-esteem, elevates happiness, and combats depression.
Spring Cleaning Reduces Stress
Whether it’s a cluttered countertop or a closet that hasn’t been organized in years, the constant reminder of tasks that need to be completed can contribute to additional anxiety and stress in our lives. Recent studies have shown that a clean, well-organized home and the gratification of accomplishing items on a to-do list gives people a sense of clarity, control, and less stress in their lives. This spring, take time to assess your commonly used spaces, including desks, kitchens, and bedrooms. If these spaces are a burden in your life, brainstorm ways you can improve their functionality. Something as simple as eliminating a stack of mail on your desk or using bins and labels to organize your kitchen cabinets can lower stress levels and give you a feeling of empowerment and confidence in your life.
Spring Cleaning Helps Us Focus
In addition to reducing stress and taking control of our environment, spring cleaning also allows us to focus on our families, interests, and the other positive aspects of our lives that are so often overlooked. Clutter can significantly impact the brain’s processing capacity. This was explored in research from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, which analyzed the impacts of organization in our lives and found that a cluttered environment can impact our well-being in many ways by restricting our ability to process information. For example, a study published in the journal Mindfulness found that people who were mindful when washing dishes (e.g. fully devoting their attention to the task) reported a 27% reduction in nervousness and a 25% improvement in mental inspiration.
Spring Cleaning Benefits Physical Health
There is a significant correlation between our physical and mental health. For example, it is not uncommon to develop a mental health condition when you experience a physical health issue and vice versa. Several studies have found that physical activity associated with cleaning and related activities (e.g. bending, scrubbing, and vacuuming) can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Although these activities may not seem like significant sources of physical activity, their benefits can add up quickly. Just one of these tasks can burn as many as 300 calories per hour.
Spring is the season of renewal and is an inspiring time for millions of people to clean, purge, and organize. Whether it makes you happier and reduces stress or improves your physical health and gives you something to look forward to, the mental health benefits of spring cleaning are far-reaching and will improve your life in ways you may have never expected. For more information about spring cleaning and mental health or to schedule an appointment with our team at Insight Behavioral Health, contact us today.
Q: How can I motivate myself to start a spring cleaning project?
A: Like most projects, finding the motivation to get started can be the biggest hurdle. Starting small, making a to-do list, and avoiding distractions that can get you sidetracked are a few tips to get you into the mindset of cleaning.
Q: What can I do if I’m struggling to declutter?
A: Decluttering can be difficult for people with certain conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and hoarding disorder. These conditions are treatable with medications, therapy, and support groups.
Q: Can spring cleaning help with the seasonal affective disorder?
A: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a common condition that causes changes in sleep and appetite, loss of energy, and sadness. The transition to a new season and the renewal that comes with spring often bring a sense of relief to people struggling with SAD.