Spring-clean your life
This year, see spring cleaning as as an opportunity to lighten, simplify and create space in all areas of your lifeBy Victoria Joanna Bailey
Toxicity and clutter come in all shapes and sizes. Old and outdated habits, lifestyle choices and friends can cause just as much harm or mental clutter as a moldy basement or dusty attic. We feel better when we've cleaned out our homes; in much the same way, we feel lightness when we let go of those things in our lives that no longer serve us.
To help you get started, here are some things to look at in each area of your life.
1. House and home
Go through each room in your house and identify the one or two rooms that you spend the most time in.
• How do I feel when I am in this room?
• Does it give me the feeling of comfort, relaxation, inspiration, clarity or functionality that I would hope to have from it?
• Is there too much clutter, either visible or stuffed into drawers and closets?
• What bothers me the most about this room?
Whether it’s the home or the backseat of your car, clutter in your outward life often indicates clutter in your internal life. Take charge of the external chaos and it can change the way you think and feel.
2. Health and physical body
The state of your physical body deeply affects both how you think and how you feel. If you skip exercise and overload your body with processed foods and chemicals, you won’t feel energized, inspired and alive. Over time, you will feel drained. Many people experience common symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, irritability and difficulty concentrating and don’t realize they are connected to diet and lifestyle choices.
You don’t need to change your eating habits all at once or start an extreme fast. Simply commit to a one- to four-week “spring cleaning” where you clean up your diet by eliminating fast food, processed foods, canned foods, white flour, white sugar and red meat and, if possible, cut out or cut back on caffeine and alcohol. At the same time, increase your water intake and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. This will give your body a much-needed break, especially your liver, which is one of the main organs responsible for cleaning your body of everyday toxins.
3. Relationships and personal life
Toxic relationships drain your energy. Don’t underestimate how much they can affect your mood, physical energy and overall zest for life. Over time, they can also affect your self-esteem. This is probably one of the least pleasant areas to spring-clean, but it’s one of the most important. None of us wants to see friends and family as having a negative influence on our lives, but if they are holding us back from being truly happy and fulfilled, we need to take a hard look at the role they play.
Your relationships have the single greatest influence on your results in life. Be honest with yourself and take a look at the relationships that may not be right for you, or which you may have outgrown. You can’t expect your friends and family to change, but you can respect your own journey and take responsibility for your own actions. It’s not always necessary to cut people out of your life completely, but make a conscious decision as to the type of people you want to surround yourself with on a regular basis.
4. Career and professional life
This area may require a more subtle approach as opposed to a quick “cleaning”. If this is an area that you feel may need some work, you likely won’t be able to do anything too drastic given that you need to ensure a source of income for yourself.
However, if your job or career has been making you unhappy, it may be time to at least turn your attention to this area. We spend more time at work then we do with our family and friends, and for many of us, professional life has a big impact on our identity and self-esteem. When you are unhappy in this area, it has a big impact on the rest of your life.
First, identify what the issues are for you:
• Are you questioning if you are in the right field?
• Do you feel a strong urge to pursue your passions, to make a bigger contribution?
• Are you experiencing conflicts in the workplace, with your boss or coworkers?
• Are you struggling with the decision of where to go next in your career?
• Are you running your own business and experiencing challenges in getting to the next level?
• Are you feeling out of balance?
• Has your work schedule completely taken over your life?
Clarifying problems is the first step. Next, make a list of the things that you can influence and change versus that which is out of your control. The solution may be more straightforward, or it may require outside help from a coach, mentor or recruiter. Either way, you won’t know until you’ve done some preliminary spring cleaning to get clear on your source of frustration.
We can all benefit from a spring cleaning that addresses our whole life. A messy and toxic environment affects everything, and isn’t only found in our closets. Take the time during this season to declutter your mental, physical and emotional life. It's a great way to create energy and momentum for the rest of the year.
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Web exclusive, April 2011