closeup of osteospermum and wild calendula spring flowers in the afternoon sunshine of sonoma county california

Boost your Mental Health - Declutter!

This past Friday, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun crossed the celestial equator making its way north along the ecliptic. This celestial event, otherwise known as the vernal or spring equinox, marks the beginning of Spring. I adore spring. It carries a hopeful promise of fresh and new, a delightful energy that we can join with as we go about our lives. For most of us there is something deeply satisfying and health promoting about moving in sync with the rhythm of the season. Maybe this is part of the reason "spring cleaning" is universal concept and ritual.

Do you have any spring cleaning rituals? Many people do, and if you do not have any, this is a perfect time to consider creating your own. Rituals enrich our lives by bringing continuity and and at the same time making meaning. A ritual of spring cleaning can serve as a reminder of your commitment to a healthy and beautiful internal and external environment.

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”  Eleanor Brownn

Sometimes we put off dealing with decluttering because it can feel irritating, overwhelming and provoking anxiety. Maybe it is some amalgamous "stuff" that you would like to get rid of, but that you keep putting off. For some it may be cloths in the closet, boxes of college papers, or the pile of junk in the side yard. For many it is the dreaded Garage Project. Whatever IT is, try to be kind to yourself. Remember that part of the reason you have not done this project is that it is stressful.

For every physical object we have, we also have a corresponding internal representation, which is often accompanied by a host of feelings. This is why it can be difficult to let go of - or even think about letting go of - physical objects. Maybe you notice your level of stress rise or you start to feel a little bit depressed as you think about your projects? That's okay. Remember to breathe. If you have more than a couple, consider making a list of your projects. Pick one project from your list. If the list feels overwhelming, consider picking the least scary project first. Then put the list away and make a plan for that one project. There are many guides available today for approaches to sorting and letting go of stuff. Enlist support if you suspect it will be emotionally difficult. A good support is someone you can count on to be supportive but who can also be decisive, and who is not themselves emotionally attached to your project.

In some cases chronic disorganization or holding onto things can be a symptom of a disorder, though these cases are very rare. Seek professional guidance if you believe that your physical stuff or chronic disorganization is getting in the way of healthy functioning, such as going to work or holding onto relationships. Most people do not meet the criteria for a disorder.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”  Albert Einstein

When you physically sort and purge accumulated physical objects there is a complementary internal reorganization that takes place. This kind of work helps you to organize, consolidate and process your internal "stuff" as well as your external stuff. In this way you are not only caring for your physical space, but you are also attending to your internal space at the same time. Clearing and letting go of clutter is empowering. You are actively choosing what to keep and what to let go of, moving and reorganizing energy. What you let go of is sent off into the world to become used in some other way. Many people report that by letting go of physical objects, they feel lighter. Less anxiousness, less weighd down.

What is one decluttering project that has been weighing you down?  How about making a date with it before spring is over?