how to spring clean your life in 5 steps
A spring clean might not sound overly appealing, but when it comes to giving your life a spring clean and a tidy up, well, it could be the secret to a happier, healthier mindset as well as improved physical health. And who doesn’t want that?
We’ve rounded up five of the easiest ways to give your life a little blitz so you can enter summer feeling better than ever!
Analyse your relationships
It was motivational speaker Jim Rohn who came out with the famous quote: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
Pretty deep right?
If Jim is right, then it makes sense to ensure those five people are sensibly chosen.
There are a few signs to look out for. If you feel drained, unhappy or tense when around certain individuals, try to work out what might be causing it. Do they have a consistently negative attitude? Perhaps they try to tell you what to do? Or maybe they make you feel guilty for the way you act or behave.
If you feel that you might be experiencing one of these points with someone; whether it be a friend, a spouse or even a family member, it’s a good idea to sit them down privately and let them know how you’re feeling. If things don’t change in time, then slowly start to cut ties with this person, or vow to spend less time with them.
See how you feel; are you happier? Calmer? Less tense? If so, then you know you’ve made the right decision. Part of spring cleaning your life is making your wellbeing a total priority.
Devote time to technology free
Technology has an array of benefits; it keeps us connected with one another and in the loop with what’s going on in the world around us. Us Brits are on our phones a lot. In fact, one 2018 study found that we check our smartphone every 12 minutes (1).
However, there is such a thing as mobile information overload; where we are inundated with so much information, whether it be news, work or social, that our brains struggle to make decisions, to focus and to generally be productive (2).
A study (3) on young adults also found that those who spend more time on social media were actually three times more likely to feel isolated than those who used social media less.
Plus, when we stare at screens for too long, we put ourselves at a greater risk of eye strain, poor sleep and poor posture. Think about how you sit when you’re looking at a screen; often it’s hunched over.
Added to this, when it comes to sleep, the blue light that is emitted from screens such as phones and tablets is said to actually interrupt our sleep/wake cycle, stopping us from winding down properly at night (4).
Plus, with so much time devoted to our technology, how are we supposed to get anything done?
So, vow to yourself plenty of technology-free time, as part of a personal spring clean.
Try to put technology and screens away at least 30 minutes before bed to help your body and mind wind down properly, and when you wake in the morning, avoid reaching for your phone first thing.
Instead, get up, get ready, make yourself a hot drink or whatever you like to drink in the morning, and avoid that information overload which can often leave us feeling overwhelmed before the day has even begun!
These days, smartphones allow you to set limits on the usage of certain apps; this can be a useful tool in preventing you from automatically going on your phone to scroll through social media, or check emails.
Added to this, when out with friends for dinner, either make a pact to put your phone away and out of sight or place all phones face down in the centre of the table. The first person who gives in and checks their phone, foots the bill!
Commit to exercise
In the UK, it’s recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week (5). This should be spread over four or five days out of the seven. Added to this, adults should aim to do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups on at least two days a week (6).
Why the exercise?
According to the NHS, regular exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer and lower your risk of early death by up to 30% (7). They’re pretty impressive statistics.
If you’ve already got an exercise regime sorted, then we salute you! If not, no worries. It’s simple to start incorporating movement into your week and it won’t be too long before it becomes a habit.
To make exercise a part of your routine, it’s important to find something you enjoy. Is there a local sporting group you can join? Can a colleague recommend you to their great personal trainer who makes gym-based exercise enjoyable? Or, is there a friend who also wants to start exercising? Working out with someone else has been proven to help with motivation and accountability.
Have a clear out and tidy up
Your surroundings can play a big role in your health; from helping to reduce anxiety levels through to sleep quality (9).
In fact, ongoing clutter and mess can actually lead to our body’s fight or flight response being consistently triggered (10); this means that a greater level of the stress hormone cortisol is released, spoiling our chances of feeling calm and rested.
There’s even research to suggest how stress levels can be impacted by mess in the home, with more clutter being linked to higher levels of cortisol (11).
Clutter can lead to extra snacking too (12), which could impact weight loss or health goals.
So, getting rid of the mess could be just the solution to a mental spring clean! In fact, there’s research that found how a tidy environment can even benefit sleep (13).
Devote a day to going through old items; with clothes, ask yourself when you last wore that item. If you haven’t been inclined to wear a particular item in the past two years, then it’s unlikely you’ll want to wear it any time soon. The same applies for kitchen equipment, magazines, and general clutter. When did you last use it or look at it? Would a friend or relative get more use from the item?
You could even try selling some unwanted items for a bit of extra cash!
If you want some structure to your decluttering mission, follow the advice of Marie Kwondo, who is famous for her KonMari tidying method (14). She recommends tidying by category in the order of clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and then sentimental items.
Make time to meditate
It might seem like a big ask but devoting just five to 10 minutes a day of meditation can provide a wealth of benefits for body and mind.
The history of meditation actually goes back a long way and there’s good reason. Not only can it help with stress reduction (15), but it can also reduce levels of anxiety (16) and improve concentration levels (17); useful before a day of work.
Ready to reap the benefits of meditation? Find yourself a quiet area, set a timer for five minutes, sit or lie down, and devote the entire time to staying in the moment and focusing on your breathing. When you notice your mind starting to wander, slowly bring it back to the present.
 https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2018/decade-of-digital-dependency  http://www.informationr.net/ir/22-2/paper754.html  https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(17)30016-8/fulltext  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1418490112  https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-guidelines/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults-aged-19-to-64/
 https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/  https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231180576_The_influence_of_close_others%27_exercise_habits_and_perceived_social_support_on_exercise  https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/612155  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278995/  https://newsroom.ucla.edu/magazine/center-everyday-lives-families-suburban-america  https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2711870  https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/psychology-behind-tidying-bedroom