Mental Spring Cleaning

Have you heard of Mental Spring Cleaning?

Every spring, people turn their focus and energy to their homes to get rid of clutter and let in fresh air. Have you ever considered doing this with your mind? Just like de-cluttering, organizing, and airing out our homes, it’s also important to do maintenance with our brains.

Here are 5 ways you can “spring clean” your mind:

1. Start journaling. One of the first parts of mental “spring cleaning” is having a practice of self-awareness and organizing our thoughts. Journaling throughout this process or using your phone notes to keep track is a great way to start noticing patterns and themes that may need to be addressed. After all, the first step is awareness of where we are in need of cleaning and decluttering.

2. Practice gratitude. Our brains are often over-stimulated with what’s wrong with the world, ourselves, and others. If you find that you tend to be stuck in the negative (judging others, yourself or having lots of worry or stress) it’s important to build a gratitude practice so that you are bringing your brain to balance. Many people over-stress, over-worry and ruminate/notice the bad first. Gratitude helps counter-act that negative process.

3. Identify the ways you look for or hold onto drama. For many of us, we can create drama out of things in life that don’t NEED to be dramatic (or over-stress about things). Try to take an inventory of the areas in life you tend to be anxious or judgmental in life. When possible, try to counter act a “dramatic” view with something more true. For instance, “this thing ALWAYS happens to me” could be challenged with “it seems like this happens a lot to me. Are there ever times it’s not the case? How might I look at this situation differently?”

4. Make an inventory of energizing and draining relationships in your life (and then set boundaries). It’s important we take an inventory of the people in our lives that are filling our cup, and those who seem to consistently take away from it. If we notice certain people tend to be draining our energy, it’s important to consider setting a boundary with them or with the amount of energy they take up in your mind. It’s not always easy, but one of the best forms of self-care is setting boundaries of who gets access to our energy and headspace.

5. Practice challenging cognitive distortions. When you identify the ways you hold onto drama or maybe even create it, it’s important that you learn about cognitive distortions. Often “drama” can be found in one of the many cognitive distortions we may be struggling with. Learning about these distortions and the ways to challenge it is a very important piece to mental fitness.

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