I’ve gotta admit: I don’t freak out too much when it comes to spring cleaning. I actually get a kick out of it. For me, there’s something very simple, rewarding, and necessary about cleaning. I realized this early on, as I find it very difficult to be productive amidst too much clutter and mess. (BUT, I realize that a) this is part of my overall personality and preference, and b) not everyone is like me when it comes to the joys of cleaning and organizing.)
To that end, I’m sharing with you some tips for your spring cleaning this year and expanding beyond having a clean house for a week (which is still pretty awesome), to all the areas of our lives. A change in season is a great way to take stock, to make room, and to set fresh intentions, and I believe there is none better for this than the shift from winter to spring.
Like most things, it starts with how we view it. Rather than seeing this as a seasonal chore, we can choose to see it as a way to renew ourselves and our homes, to make room for growth and possibility, and to remember and be thankful for all we have.
- Let in some fresh air! Throughout the cold winter months, pollutants, chemicals, and dust accumulate, often making us feel sick (headaches, trouble breathing). Open doors and windows throughout your house for some cross-ventilation and get rid of that toxic stuffy stuff!
- Lighten up! Winter’s short, dark days can sometimes lead to the blues and to cravings for rich, fattening foods (it’s normal and natural, trust me). Make the most of daylight savings by cleaning your windows, opening your blinds, and letting in all that sunshine-y goodness!
- Clear the clutter, but do it mindfully and with purpose. Even if you’re not as, um… particular as I am, you probably find it easier to focus when your rooms aren’t full of piles of stuff everywhere. Physical clutter affects us mentally and emotionally, too, so take a few minutes and work on those stacks. Get rid of anything you don’t need, love, or that no longer gives meaning to your life. As you’re going through your stuff, think about how you got it, who gave it to you, and send them love and thanks. (Stuff is stuff is stuff. What’s behind it is what matters, and that doesn’t take up precious physical space.)
- Clean your fridge and kitchen cabinets: take everything out, one shelf or drawer at a time, clean and return items to their spots. This is a great time to get rid of things you won’t use or eat, and to check labels to identify items that aren’t so supportive to your health (look for high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, ingredients you can’t pronounce, sugar, MSG, sugar, ahem, sugar). Here’s a great guide to spot added and hidden sugars. And here’s a link to 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions (seriously, nothing is more inspiring and helpful in the cleaning/organizing realm than Real Simple).
- Add some green plants, which help oxygenate and purify your home, plus are pretty damn easy on the eyes.
For the home- and stuff-related cleaning/clearing, I find it really helpful to make a commitment with myself (and my calendar) to get it done. But do what works for you. Maybe you set aside a full day or a couple of mornings, or just have a plan that you’ll do something each day for 15 minutes. If you have partners and/or children, by all means, don’t keep all the fun for yourself!
- Taking our cues from Mother Nature, spring is the time to shift from the warming, comforting, and dense foods of winter to foods that help us feel lighter and detoxify. Think perhaps not-so-many stews and carb-heavy dishes and more salads, green juices and smoothies. Do your grocery shopping based on seasonal produce, eating fresh and locally when possible.
- Perfect springtime foods on which to focus: any green leafies and herbs (arugula, lettuce, spinach, mustard and dandelion, parsley, cilantro, bok choy, chard), other green veggies (asparagus, artichokes, scallions, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, leeks, peas, cabbage, celery, sprouts of all kinds), and fully nutritious, antioxidant-packed finds like beets (and beet greens!), peppers, carrots, and cherries. Water with lemon is always a great choice for hydration (especially in the morning), as are cleansing, detox , and digestive-supporting teas, hot or cold (dandelion, ginger, mint, fennel, and licorice are some great options).
- Here’s a link to my Top 10 Foods for Detoxing, as well as to my Top 10 Reasons to Detox (When You Do It Right).
- And here are some springtime recipes to try!
- Commit to trying something new in your exercise routine, or starting one if that’s what’s calling to you. Maybe go to a new yoga or gym class (I’ve started taking barre recently, which is fun and challenging in a different way than my usual weight lifting routines, but the lightness of it feels perfect right now!). With the longer days and an increased pep in most of our steps, this is a perfect time to focus on moving your body and getting your sweat on. (Bonus if these exercise things take you outside, see below!)
- As we come out of our winter shells, this is also a wonderful time to focus on connection of all kinds. Spend some of your springtime energy reconnecting with friends (outside lunch or coffee dates, walks around the neighborhood), strangers (make an effort to make eye contact, smile, and appreciate each person you pass), and also reconnecting with nature. Most of us have done very little of the latter in months, so it’s time to breathe in that fresh air, get some Vitamin D, and get moving.
- While you’re at it, spend a little attention (or a lot of it) on your thoughts and feelings. What’s still creeping up, but is not serving you anymore? Are you holding onto resentments, grudges, past pains that are hurting no one but you? Are you overwhelmed with negative thinking and self-judgments? Spring is a great time to let that shit go. Some great tools for this include journaling, prayer or meditation, and a wholehearted attempt to focus on the positive. Or write it down and tear it up or light it on fire (safely!). Talking it over with a friend or professional can also be super supportive.