Spring “Cleaning”

Spring "Cleaning"

Written by: Darlene Schindel

Greetings NSTEPpers!

It’s SPRING! It’s always such a long-awaited season here in Canada after what seems like a never ending long and cold winter. The days are getting longer, as we have more sunlight to enjoy.

Like New Year’s, spring can feel like we are getting a fresh start. The ritual of ‘spring cleaning’ gives us a chance to declutter, reuse and repurpose items we have and don’t need anymore. But there is something much more important about spring cleaning!

Did you ever consider that spring cleaning could positively affect your mental health?

While cleaning your space, a sense of renewed energy might wash over you as you get rid of the dust, dirt, and clutter. You might feel ‘lighter’ as you sort out that pile of books or paper and find some space that makes the room look bigger. It can also give you a feeling of getting rid of negativity and things you may regret from the past. Researchers claim that we might experience a shift in our energy and better self-esteem, putting us in a better space to move forward.

If you feel better when your home is clean, rather than when it looks like a tornado hit it, you are not alone. Research suggests that our mental health is positively impacted when we live or work in a tidier space compared to one that is cluttered. In fact, researchers found that washing dishes can be used as a mindfulness practice (1). The study also found that participants overestimated how much time it took them to wash dishes, which might be why washing dishes can seem daunting! 

One reason why this may be happening is that mindfulness can affect our perception of time.

Personally, I have always LOVED doing laundry; not sure where that came from. Just the idea of washing, drying, folding, and fixing clothes if needed and getting them back where they belong makes me very happy! Working from my home office allows me to get those tasks done in little breaks from my desk and computer. Oh – and I get some extra physical activity into my day going up and down the stairs! 

But even when my full-time nursing job meant working 12- hour shifts and irregular days of the week, doing chores on my days off was a time to focus on just what was going on in my home.

Speaking of physical activity, did you ever consider that all these tasks like doing laundry, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning windows, wall washing, and gardening help you move your body? All this decluttering can add up and increase physical activity levels (2, 3). However, make sure this doesn’t replace your regular high intensity physical activity that gets your heart pumping and body sweating.

When our environment is clean and clear, we become more relaxed. We can process information differently because visually there is less ‘clutter’ and ‘noise’ in our brain.

The relationship between a clean house and mental health should be important to our whole family.

We all love a cleaner, more organized home and we typically feel more at ease with less clutter. When you consider the overwhelming benefits—better physical health, improved mental health and a cleaner, healthier environment, it’s easy to see how keeping a home clean can keep minds calmer and relationships strong. The great thing about spring cleaning isn’t just the opportunity to get rid of all the stuff you accumulated over the course of a year – it’s also a chance to help improve your thoughts in ways you may have never even expected!

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