As we breeze through April I can not help but wonder where the time has gone. As we recently gained an hour sleep and entered a new season I thought it would be a good time to consider cleaning out our mental and emotional spaces: our thoughts and feelings.
Similarly to opening a clutter free wardrobe or enjoying a sparkling hardwood floor, a mental spring-cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So here is a mental and emotional spring-cleaning check list to help you get started!
1 Spend some quality ‘Me time’
Too often we get caught up in the bustle of life, whether it is working towards that deadline or taxiing the kids around all week. It is important to stop and take some time for yourself. Meditation, prayer, walking and yoga are excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection and allow time to tune in to your inner world. Take a planned break from technology and spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.
2 Write a personal journal
Writing your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable and gives you a different perspective. When I work with teenagers and young people I tend to get them to log their emotions on my recommended apps (a teenager is never without their phone so there is no excuse). However for us adults, I would recommend putting pen to paper to identify your thoughts and emotions. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them.
3. Let go of any resentments
Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive areas of your life. I've heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. While having a range of emotions, including anger and hurt, is normal, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you. Finding that inner peace will help you in the long run.
4. Forgive Your Faults
Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-dialogue like, “I am never good enough” or “I'm always putting my foot in my mouth”. Dwelling on your past mistakes only clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren't inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism. How freeing it is to acknowledge that you will make mistakes and have weaknesses as a human, but that it is possible to learn from personal experiences and still maintain a sense of self-acceptance. When my therapy clients are able to achieve this self-acceptance in spite of their own struggles, love and healing can begin.