Every year when spring rolls around, we get that sudden urge to declutter. We pack away winter clothes, get rid of the crap we no longer need, and bust out the Swiffer to go on a serious cleaning spree. Nothing feels better than a sparkling, organized home or workspace to start off the new season right, right? Well, what if we took this idea of decluttering and cleaning and applied it to our entire life?
Let’s face it—once the holidays are over, winter is pretty bleak, and it usually rubs off on us, leaving us feeling that same way. We certainly don’t want to carry any of this darkness into the warm and sunny months, so we chatted with a few experts on how to do a little spring cleaning on more than just your home—and do so in just a few simple steps.
From saging your bedroom to organizing your inbox, read on for how to prep yourself for a spring awakening. We promise it’s easy!
Clear your mental clutter
The most important step to spring cleaning your life is to clear out all of that mental clutter that’s been building up over the gloomy, dark winter. While it may sound simple, it definitely requires a bit of digging into your deepest thoughts.
What exactly is mental clutter? Laura Benko, lifestyle expert and author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui Your Mind, Body, Spirit, describes common mental clutter as negative thoughts, scattered thinking, self-doubt, cynicism, indecisiveness, procrastination, worry, and fear-based thinking.
To begin the process, you must first acknowledge whatever your mental clutter may be—it could be one, a few, or all of the above. Once you’ve thought it over, Benko suggests using meditation, mantras, or a visualization to clear and release these thoughts while simultaneously tackling any physical clutter in your space. That’s right—clean your space and your mind at the same time. “When you associate the piles of paperwork with your indecisiveness, letting it go and moving on is much easier,” she says. “Visualize taking that big bag of worry out to the curb. Not only is your closet cleaner, but you’ll also be surprised how you’ll worry less!” Basically, you’re killing two birds with one stone, and that’s always a win-win.
A great way to help move this process along and really dive deep your thoughts? Angela Ficken, psychotherapist and owner of ProgressWellness.com, suggests keeping a journal. “Put any negative thoughts down on a page,” she says. “No judgment, no editing, swear words included. Don’t hold back. By putting thoughts to a page, it helps free your mind of any ruminative thinking.” Of course, you should also be writing down the positive. On a separate page or journal, keep track of all the positive, good things that you do daily. “Whether it’s holding a door for someone, being there for a friend, or noticing a quality you like about yourself, write it down,” she says. “Read the list each time you add to it—this can help combat negative thoughts and emotions.”
Clear the bad energy from your living space space
After you declutter your mind, it’s also important to declutter spiritually. What exactly is spiritual clutter and how does it differ from mental, you ask? “Spiritual clutter piles up in your psyche and lingers in your subconscious,” says Benko. “It can come from bad dreams, lingering arguments, poor lifestyle habits, and more, resulting in feeling weighted down, irrational, emotional, and unstable.” Not exactly a pile of fun, if you ask us.
She tells us that the best way to get rid of spiritual clutter is by burning sage and performing a smoke ritual or smudging. While you can find a bundle of sage at practically any health or wellness shop, we love a good DIY session at NYLON. You can check out how to build your own floral sage smudge stick and learn how to perform a basic smudging ritual here.
Rid yourself of negative relationships
Are there people in your life that are just dragging you down? Whether it’s more of a recent feeling or if it’s been ongoing for some time, it might be time to reevaluate some of your closest (and not so close) relationships.
Nicholas Aujula, celebrity life coach and therapist, says that once a relationship or friendship is no longer making you feel good, it might just be time to let them go. It’s likely always worth talking things through with them first, but that’s not always going to lead to a solution. “If there’s no resolution, it may be time to focus on those people who make you happy,” he says.
It’s never easy to break up with a partner or a BFF, but if the relationship is that toxic, you’ll certainly benefit (and feel much better) in the long run.
Declutter your e-mail
Nowadays, you’re either one of those people who embraces having 48,238 unread e-mails or you “mark all as read” without even giving it a second thought. Regardless, all of your inboxes are completely clogged with spam from mailing lists you either signed up for years ago and forgot about or unknowingly got sucked into. Spring clean that clutter inbox of yours now.
Camille Preston, CEO and founder of Create More Flow, suggests making your inbox more manageable by unsubscribing yourself from all of that junk mail. “For one week, move all the spam into a separate folder, and then pick a TED talk to listen to while you go through and unsubscribe from each,” she says.
Once you’re able to go through everything you get in a full week, you’ll be surprised how many fewer e-mails you receive the following week (and how much energy you’ll get from freeing yourself). You’ll also now be able to tell if there’s something actually important in there.
Embrace your FOMO and declutter your calendar
Are you someone that tends to spread themselves too thin? We’re definitely all guilty of it from time to time, but as you begin to declutter all of the other aspects of your life, you’ll probably notice an overwhelming calendar.
Preston suggests learning to consider what’s actually necessary to attend or take part in on your daily calendar—especially when it comes to work. “If you’ve been invited or have agreed to meetings that you don’t really need to be a part of, kindly decline or ask if your presence is truly needed,” she says. “Doing this will free up some time for you to really focus on the things you need to get done throughout the day, and will allow you to create more workflow and perform at your absolute best.
Chances are your social life could stand for a bit of decluttering as well. We all know what FOMO is, and it’s time to finally embrace it. If you’re exhausted, why go to three different events or parties in an evening? Find out what’s most important—whether it’s a close friend’s birthday party or an event that will benefit your work—and politely decline or reschedule the others. Chances are, they aren’t all necessary.
Spring clean your living space
While we’ve already mentioned being sure to clean and organize your physical clutter, we’re here to reinforce that point once again. You may not realize just how much a messy space can affect your psyche. “Clutter creates stagnant energy, and when you’re stagnant, there is little growth happening. You’ll tend to either live in the past feeling sad or live in the future feeling anxious,” says Benko. “Physical clutter can easily make you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated, unproductive, and out of control.”
Well, we definitely don’t want any of that, especially not when sunny spring us upon us (we want to enjoy those rooftop margaritas). However, we get it—cleaning and organizing a space can be a daunting task, especially if you teeter toward the messier side of the scale. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming or banged out in a whole day if you set small goals.
Ficken suggests aiming for a 15-minute declutter strategy to tackle one section at a time. “Setting a small time limit can help motivate you to take those chores you’ve been avoiding, such as cleaning your closet or throwing out old receipts and papers,” she says. “Pick a corner of the room in your apartment or office and go through anything you can within a 15-minute window. Toss old receipts, sort through papers, and create a ‘keep’ pile and a ‘trash’ pile. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in this small amount of time.” While some of us may require more 15-minute increments than others, Finken suggests scheduling one to two sessions a week to keep things stress-free.