Spring often ushers in a bustle of cleaning, paring down, and decluttering, but you might be forgetting to clean the most important thing of all — your mind. While it might seem like one more thing to add to your list, knowing how to spring clean your mind can help you enter your sunny summer days feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Similar to a cluttered closet, your mind can hoard negativity, just like that unfortunate collection of '90s sweater vests you're closet is still holding onto.
Trust me, dragging negative energy (and sweater vests) into what should be the most fun and relaxing time of the year will make your summer a huge drag. And, no one has time for that.
Psychotherapist Nannette Funderburk tells the Good Morning Show in North Carolina that in order to spring clean your mind you should address five things: toxic relationships and drama, bad habits, negative talk, negative thoughts, and physical space. Um, OK, this might feel like a tall order. So, just how can you achieve this? Funderburk advises focusing on your physical health, practicing gratitude, embarking on creative projects, and cultivating positive relationships.
If you're anything like me, this sounds great in theory, but honestly sometimes it feels like my mind has a mind of its own.
That being said, I'd love to recycle my winter baggage, and head into summer with fresh perspective.
We're not quite talking Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here, after all you don't want to get rid of everything, but chances you can free up some brain space by ditching your negative vibes, and giving those out-of-date sweater vests, and other items that are unnecessarily crowding your life, to someone else, because you don't need them anymore.
If you want to start summer with a clean slate, here's how to spring clean your mind so you can maximize your beach, patio, and general chill time without dwelling on the dark days of this long, cold winter.
I know, you are tired of people telling you to meditate, but if your mind is a mess with drama and negative thoughts, it just might be worth a try. An article published by the Harvard Business Review states that practicing Mindfulness for just 10 minutes a day can change the way you react to everything.
"We’ve seen over and over again that a diligent approach to mindfulness can help people create a one-second mental space between an event or stimulus and their response to it," Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, and Gitte Dybkjaer wrote in the HBR story.
Check out these seven apps for an easy introduction to meditation, and you'll be feeling more zen in no time at all. And, meditation can also boost your creativity, which is an added bonus.
Get In Shape, Girl
It's a perfect time to get into a new fitness routine, and staying physically active can boost endorphins in your brain, which in turn can make you feel good. Try a new yoga routine, like goat yoga, rage yoga, beer yoga, or weed yoga. Plain old regular yoga is great too.
Whatever you choose, make sure it's fun. "The most effective exercise is the one you actually stick with," former Olympic athlete Mark Sisson advises on the website The Health Sessions.
Did you know that covering your feet is a fairly recent trend? A study from the National Institute of Health reports that throughout history, "humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins. They slept on the ground or on skins. Through direct contact or through perspiration-moistened animal skins used as footwear or sleeping mats, the ground's abundant free electrons were able to enter the body, which is electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells."
If you're feeling spacey and overwhelmed by the events of this past winter, and let's face it who isn't, elevating your mood and grounding your mind and body could be as simple as taking a barefoot walk in your own backyard, or better yet, on the beach.
Ditch Dead Weight
If you're feeling weighed down by drama, toxic relationships, friendships, or obligations that are keeping you up at night, and preventing you from being your best self, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate.
Author and speaker Danielle LaPorte suggests creating a stop doing list. "On the path to defining your own version of success, what you stop doing is just as important as the things you start doing," she writes on her blog.
Consider using these three questions to help create your own stop doing list. Ask yourself: Am I deeply passionate about it? Do I want to do it? Is this person/thing making me happy?
"If the answers come up meh, just kinda, and … no to – then you might want stop doing it," LaPorte says on her blog. "Shut ‘er down. Take it off your plate. Let it die. Cease. And exhale a sigh of relief."
Break Bad Habits
We all have bad habits, and these can get exacerbated during times of stress. Don't drag your bad habits into summer. I know this is easier said than done, but if you're serious about ditching a bad habit, CNBC recently published an article that details three ways to break a bad habit, and it's based on science, so you know it really works.
The key to breaking old patterns is changing how you think about them, and how you talk to yourself about what you're capable of.
"When we get curious, we step out of our old, fear-based, reactive habit patterns, and we step into being. We become this inner scientist where we're eagerly awaiting that next data point," Psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer tells CNBC. "Just be curiously aware of what's happening in your body and mind in that moment. It will just be another chance to perpetuate one of our endless and exhaustive habit loops ... or step out of it."
While this may all sound like a lot of work, just like everything in life, you basically get out of it what you put into it. If you're feeling stuck, consider making a gratitude list every day. I'll start. I'm grateful that it's almost summer; I'm grateful for the existence of women like Stevie Nicks and Lauren Graham; and I'm grateful for my dog. Now, you give it a try, and hey, no matter what, let's have an epic summer.