Winter is on the way out.
We all have some areas that could use some Spring Cleaning.
Here are 7 terrific ways to spring-clean your life.
Each can have a big positive impact on your life…
1. Spring Clean Your Mental Assumptions.
These are our “go-to” thoughts about everyday events. They are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, why we did this or that. Assumptions are often the pseudo-facts that we tell ourselves in order to get through the day but they can hold us back from reaching our goals or living happier if we don’t take time occasionally to check out how helpful they actually are.
What assumptions do you find yourself making every day?
Not sure… try finishing this sentence fragment, “I am a person who likes to…”
There’s an assumption.
Sometimes our assumptions or “stories” about ourselves and others are true, sometimes they aren’t. By taking a look at them we can create opportunities to see them for what they are. Start by reviewing your day or week. As you write the list, where do you see you may have made an assumption about something external, something someone said or did? Once you’ve got a few things listed, move on to noticing where you may be making assumptions about yourself. For example, how often do you tell yourself that you are this kind of person or that kind?
When we see them, we create opportunities to let go of the ones that don’t support us or even those that hold us back from living happier.
Hint: if you get stuck, do this with a friend. It can be easier to do this with a “buddy” and then both of you win.
“YOUR ASSUMPTIONS ARE YOUR WINDOWS ON THE WORLD.
SCRUB THEM OFF EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, OR THE LIGHT WON’T COME IN.”
— Isaac Asimov
2. Rev Up Physical Fitness.
Have you been doing the same old/ same old for the past year? It’s so easy to find ourselves feeling uninspired by our fitness routines, or not having a routine at all. Shaking things up on a regular basis by spring cleaning your physical activity is one of the best ways to feel better and more energized. Reinvigorate your fitness routine or start a new one with these simple ways to shake it up.
- Try something new. This can be as simple as a morning walk or adding in a new class at the gym. It might also be trying a new location for your weekly ride or running a new route or with a new running buddy. By stalking things up you increase your energy and excitement about your physical fitness routine.
- Get out of your head. If you haven’t started moving your body on a daily basis, and I mean more than walking from your car to the office, find one activity that interests you and get started. Stumped for ideas? Check your local paper for activities around town. These days you’ll find everything from pole-dancing and Tango classes to mindful movement and yoga dance. Who knows, I’m sure somewhere out there someone offers cow-roping or wildflower wandering as well. Whatever it is, give it a try at least twice.
- Drink water. I know, not really a new concept here but a truly important one. Drinking water throughout the day is a key way to accomplish several spring cleans for your body and your mind. When you refill your glass every hour or two, you give your body a much-needed element for proper functioning. You are, quite literally, keeping your fluid levels in balance. Drinking water regularly throughout the day also allows you to take a break, move around and stretch a bit, after all, you’ve got to get up to refill that glass at some point.
3. Simplify Your Schedule.
While it might be true that you’ve got your schedule down pat, there can be a benefit to taking a long hard look at whether you’ve gotten yourself into a rut. Just like spring-cleaning your fitness routine will re-energize your workouts, spring-cleaning your schedule by looking at what you actually are doing each day can help you be more efficient. Be honest about where you are sending your time and then notice how maybe making some small changes can free up more time for you. We all have a tendency to over-estimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year; look at what you put on your schedule in both the short-term and long-term plan and notice if there are smaller changes that will allow you to be happier and more effective with your time and energy. By making one or two small changes or including time for something new, you can bring a lot more energy and excitement into your daily or weekly routine. Hint: This is another that is super helpful to do with a buddy!
- Write or print out your actual schedule and take a good long look at it. Are there areas where you see you’ve gotten yourself into a rut of thinking or action? What do you see you could shift, even slightly to create a better balance between work and play?
- Ask your buddy to take a look and offer some ideas about what he/she sees. being serious about how someone else might do it can be a great way to spring-clean old scheduling ruts right out the window.
- Brainstorm all the things you’d ideally like to do in the day or week. Compare this to your actual schedule. Are there places you see you might be able to swap out a new item for an older one or combine some things so you get more of what you need to create a balanced work/life schedule?
4. Clear Out Verbal Habits.
Now could be the best time to take a look at the power of words. We all get into verbal habits, so much so that we fail to notice them. The problem with not noticing is that sometimes our verbal habits are ways in which we also run ourselves down. Take a few minutes and do a quickie Spring-cleaning check and clean up how you talk to yourself. Aim to talk to yourself as though you were talking to your best friend, and not someone you are perpetually disappointed in!
One quick way to do a quick check is to grab your phone and record yourself in conversation with someone for 2-3 minutes. You can even record your side of a phone conversation. Then play it back and jot down some notes about what you hear. Do you run yourself down? Say hum or “yeah” a lot? What are the verbal habits you nice? These could be ‘tics, as in repeated words or catchphrases, or they could be a way you have of referring to yourself or your abilities. Check out whether you are badmouthing or underestimating yourself in your speech and clean that up pronto!
5. Master The “Brain-Dump”
Do a “Brain Dump” to spring-clean your mind. getting everything out onto paper has a huge benefit to our ability to think more clearly, lower stress levels, and feel more competent and effective. It also will give you a new perspective on whatever you have been feeling lately. once you see all the things that are taking up mental space, you’ll probably notice that you feel some sense of relief and maybe even excitement. When we stuff everything in our brains and try to keep it all straight, it’s a wonder we can feel muzzy-headed and ineffective.
This journal practice can take as little as 3 minutes or as long as you like.
The key is to write down everything that is currently on your mind, whether it’s large or small, trivial or major. Think of it like the laundry list of thoughts that are currently rattling ’round your head. By getting every single item out somewhere you can actually see them, you create an opportunity to better prioritize, compete and even toss out some of what may be creating stress in your life. Journaling in this way for as little as 5 minutes a day is a perfect way to clear old ideas.
“ENTHUSIASM IS THE ELECTRICITY OF LIFE.
HOW DO YOU GET IT?
YOU ACT ENTHUSIASTIC UNTIL YOU MAKE IT A HABIT.”
— Gordon Parks
6. Letting Go of Stress
Spring-clean the build-up of stress in your body and teach your body to ease out of “fight, flight or freeze responses”. These days most of us know that everyday occurrences can trigger stress-response in our bodies. While our ancestors used these responses to stay alive, they also used techniques to release the stress from the body once the treatment was over. Today, we often forget that even after a stressful event has passed, our body may still be in stressed mode until we shake it off and release the effects.
It has long been proven that ongoing stressors lead to high-stress levels in our bodies. The effects of high-stress levels can include elevated heart rate and heart disease, unclear thinking, mood swings, and a host of other physical and mental illnesses. By taking a few minutes a day to clear out the effects of stress on the body you can prime yourself for continued lower stress levels in the future. As you lower your stress levels you are also teaching your body that it doesn’t have to go into a stress response for everything.
It can be a challenge to lower our stress levels but there are several things we can do that act as effective “cleaners” for stress. Doing one or more of these each month will definitely help lower your stress and, will improve your overall mental and physical health.
- First thing in the morning as you plant your feet on the floor, take 3 deep breaths. Cleansing your lungs will help you start your day faster and more alert.
- Give yourself a “breathing break”. Set 1 minute aside every hour to breathe deeply for one full minute. This not only helps you clear your head, but it’s a practice that will give you more energy throughout the day. You can do this sitting or standing. If you choose to stand, take advantage and give your body a quick stretch as well.
- Take time to sit quietly. It only takes 2 minutes for our bodies to relax. Give yourself an amazing refresher during the day by sitting somewhere quiet for 2 minutes. Focus on your breath or a cloud or some view outside your window and allow your mind to ease into some relaxation. I love using the timer on my phone for this, it’s amazing how effectively 2 minutes can relax the body.
7. Spring Clean Those Eating Habits
Spring-Clean your eating habits. Today’s lifestyle often leads to some small but unhealthy eating habits. Making small, positive changes in even one area of your eating can create a snowball effect of positive change. By becoming more aware of one aspect, you will start to see ways to “clean up your act” without feeling like you have to overhaul everything all at one time.
As my yoga teacher often says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”!
Taking the time to clear out old habits can help us feel better in a very short time.
A few ways to do this are :
- Slow down when you eat. Pay attention to the taste of the food. By fully noticing the flavor of each bite, you’ll enjoy your food more and likely find yourself eating less.
- Check your ingredients. The more fresh food or local produce you have in your meal-planning the healthier you’ll feel and the more flavourful your meals will be.
- Branch out. There are so many great online recipes these days that you never have to buy another cookbook in order to be inspired. Try making one new recipe each month and then allow the inspiration from that to rev up the rest of your cooking for the month. You may find yourself more inspired than ever in the kitchen.
Have you found some additional ways that make you feel better? Post them in the comments and keep the knowledge flowing!