The weather may not have quite made its mind up, but spring has sprung making this a great time to spring clean your mental health
The phrase ‘spring cleaning’ conjures up images of homes as neat as new pins, shelves of neatly folded, colour coded T-shirts, clutter-free cupboards and weed-free lawns. All this is obviously beneficial, and that kind of spring cleaning can lead to improved mood, decreased stress and heightened creative thinking. But spring-cleaning does not have to be limited to physical spaces, it can be just as useful in our internal world. Our mental and emotional spaces will benefit every bit as much from a wash and brush up as our homes and gardens do. Spring is definitely a good time to re-evaluate your goals, clear out any bad habits or tricky thoughts, which are not helping you to move forwards, and reorganise and reinvigorate yourself so that you can clear a path to making the life you want.
Here are seven clever ways to spring clean your mental health
- Check-in with yourself daily
Emotions are notoriously up and down. So try to tune in to these fluctuations by making it a regular habit to check in with your thoughts and feelings. Psychological research has shown that this simple practice can have long-term beneficial effect on your mental and emotional health. You could even set an alarm in your phone to stop at a convenient time and just have a little, quiet think about your present state of mind. Ask yourself: what can I feel in my body? And with practice, and a little effort, you will become aware of, and accept, your emotions.
- Keep a journal
The practice of ‘mind dumping’ (to give it its unattractive slang name) involves writing what comes to mind in that moment without thinking about what you want to say or what words to use. It is important not to plan your diary entry, but to keep it spontaneous, and make it a daily habit every morning or night. You will be amazed how much you will discover about yourself, and how much awareness, and relief from distress or pain, can be achieved by simply putting your thoughts down on paper.
- Have fun
Our adult lives are filled with lists of tasks and activities we have to do, most of them working towards an end goal we need to achieve. However, the constant stress of working toward something can throw our mental and emotional states out of balance. This is why it’s important to make time to play. Play is all about enjoying the present moment without trying to fulfil a goal or expectations. Make time to do something fun; something, such as cooking or drawing or dancing or woodwork or walking or trainspotting, that you just do for the pure love of it; because you can, not because you have to.
If you only do one thing to spring clean your mind, make it taking up meditation even if only for five minutes a day. Meditation can help free you from past regrets and future anxieties by bringing you back to, and keeping you in, the present. It also helps you detach from thoughts so that you can observe them and learn to question them from a reflective distance.
- Let the music play
Recent research has shown that music can be very therapeutic, and it works fast. Whether you are a metal-head, a popster or a classical fan, different genres of music can help to either boost your mood or help you to wind down. Listening to one 3 to 4-minute song or passage of music, can take your mind off things and free up your mind to think freely and positively.
- Create something
Creativity is just self-expression, and we all have a creative spark, so don’t be put off by thinking you have to be a Hockney or a Prince or a Benedict Cumberbatch. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, or even good — it just has to be you expressing yourself in your own spontaneous, natural way.
- Turn off the tech!
Modern technology is a fantastic thing that few of us could do without, however it is seriously addictive, designed as it is to pull you in and fill your mind with all sorts of information. However, most of this information, attractive as it is, is of no real value to you, and can actually make you feel anxious, stressed or depressed. So just cut it out. See if you can go as long as six hours without it, and then have more and longer breaks so that you can really give yourself to all your new mind cleansing tricks as above.
If you would like to spring clean your mental health, we have a team of qualified counsellors who can help. Just call 020 8673 4545 so that one of our Front of House team can find the right counsellor for you, or email [email protected] to arrange a confidential session with a therapist.