Spring Cleaning the Mind: How to Have an Emotional Clear-Out
Maybe it’s the longer days and brighter sunshine, but as we stumble out of the fog of winter, the clutter of our lives can become very apparent. We look around our homes, eyeing up boxes of junk and brandishing a duster threateningly over neglected corners, all ready to throw ourselves into a thorough spring clean. But while giving the kitchen floor a good scrub is all well and good, sometimes it can be helpful to look beyond our surroundings and into our inner world, and clear out a little of the clutter in there.
Spring Clean Your Mind, Spring Clean Your Life.
In the hustle of life, with memories, worries and to-do lists crowding our minds and shouting for attention, it can be extremely difficult to think with any clarity. If we don’t give ourselves time to take stock, looking back over the past years and assessing where we are in the moment, we can become completely overwhelmed by “mind clutter”. So how do we stop ourselves from getting buried under all this detritus? Here’s a few tips.
Devote some time to yourself
It can be quite hard – between a busy job, kids, social life, hobbies and family members – just to let yourself be, and devote time to nothing but yourself. Taking half a day to give yourself some breathing space, slow down your mind and actually look about you can be extremely helpful if you can afford it. Then you can ask yourself some questions, like:
- How do you feel about your job, circumstances, relationships and general place in life?
- Are you where you wanted to be when you thought about the future as a younger person?
- Have your priorities changed since then, or do you carry any regrets?
- What bothers you most on a daily basis?
- Is there anything your hanging onto from the past?
- Where would you like to be, and what would you like to have achieved, this time next year?
The content and focus of these questions might be slightly different for you, but they are a great jumping-off point to start thinking about things you may want to change, rather than being swept through life with a whole load of flotsam and jetsam you’d rather be without.
The act of writing down our thoughts can reveal a lot to us. If you spend a week detailing each day and your feelings throughout it, you may gain an insight that would otherwise have passed you by. For instance, you might pinpoint a worry that usually plays at the back of your mind, or notice that a particular event or person makes you happier, sadder or anything in between.
This kind of insight shines a light on all the dusty and overlooked corners of our life. In a normal spring clean, you have to actually go through the cupboards to identify what you need to throw away, and journaling is a way to do this for your non-physical life.
It’s easy to find ourselves carrying worries, troublesome memories, guilt and a host of other negative emotions and experiences; we think this is perfectly normal, simply because we’ve got used to it. Realising the true content of all those vague memories and worries is the first step in feeling lighter, happier and ready for a new start.
Whether you’ve been beating yourself up over an opportunity you missed, the New Year’s Resolutions you’ve already broken, or past mistakes that echo through your life, part of moving forward is letting yourself off the hook. You may have done something that hurt somebody else, or hugely regret not going down a certain path. However, regret is pretty useless unless you channel it correctly, and can safely be put in the “throwaway” box in an emotional spring clean.
You can use your negative emotions for motivation, and to give you the impetus to behave differently in future, while also divesting them of the power they have over you. For example, if you notice yourself brooding over something that upsets you or makes you feel guilty – from giving up on an exercise regime to feeling like you let somebody down – write down three practical ways to help others, help yourself, or avoid the same thing happening in future. Before long, the emotional weights which have been holding you back will become the force that moves you forwards.
Take up a new habit
It may go without saying, but we would highly recommend taking up meditation if you feel in need of an emotional spring clean. On a deeply held, unconscious level, Vedic meditation effortlessly untangles all the emotional pain and trauma which has stored itself up inside our nervous system, and allows us to become free of life’s debris. But while meditation is something we would always suggest, lots of new habits can help in an emotional spring clean alongside this practice.
For example, you may commit to going for a walk everyday, or painting a new picture each week. New habits focus our minds, and give us the feeling of a fresh start. And while we make our resolutions in the New Year, it’s always been spring that most strongly represents rebirth and renewal in our culture. So as sun begins to shine that little bit brighter, we can throw ourselves into change with new enthusiasm, and adopt the new habits which may just transform our lives.