Can’t LIVE Without…Spring Cleaning for the Mind

Maybe you’ve noticed like I have that magazine covers and blogs alike are publishing their spring tips. They are promising easy ways to cutback clutter, quick and inexpensive ways to visually organize everything from your accessories to that bar cart you found at a garage sale, heck they are telling you the best way to advertise, visualize organize, and when to host you garage sale to cutback on clutter.  Don’t get me wrong. I am pro spring cleaning. Actually I am pro cleaning period. However, I think the same way we pause and take a moment each spring to analyze, organize, and strategize for our physical spaces, I think the same goes for our mental spaces aka our minds. It’s good every now and then to step back and do a little spring cleaning for the mind and this week I’m sharing a few things I can’t LIVE without when doing so.

Mapping

I’m a mapper. I love my lists, but I love my maps even more. I have found it really helpful to draw a picture of my brain and my heart and then map out what is going on with both. I find that visually separating head and heart helps me get a grasp on what I need to figure out (head) regardless of how I feel (heart). I also find that when I map, its super easy to recognize patterns. With my heart it takes very little time for me to see that fear in general is still something I’ve go to work on because I have listed a fear of failure, disappointment, rejection, etc. Different types of fears, but all fears nonetheless and the heart map highlights that for me so I can start addressing those fears.

Brain map courtesy of..me 🙂

Black and White
As a clinical counselor I often try to assist my client’s in straying away from black and white thinking, or thinking in extremes. Mostly because so much of life and what brings them to counseling is not black and white. However, there are times when thinking that plainly can be helpful, especially if we are talking changing habits. My version of black and white thinking is usually a series of questions that the answer is yes or no. For example, is spending time with that person usually draining or energizing? If it’s yes then make more time for them if it’s no, then I stop making time for them. Or I ask myself If I am doing something out of fear, again if it’s yes then I stop. I think about what the fear is stemming from and what need the action is faux fulfilling. If it’s no, and I am doing it because I want to then I keep it up. Sometime it’s “Is this getting me closer to the person I want to be?” If yes I continue if no, I stop. Often times this kind of thinking can help preserve the limited resources of time, energy, and ultimately our lives. That’s worth preserving and adds to mental wellness.

Photo courtesy of Hailey Photography

Nature Made
It could be because it’s both sunnier and warmer that I find myself drawn to the outdoors and will happily park it on a park bench and simply sit and take in my surrounds, but highly recommend it. I highly suggest that there is something to be said for being outdoors, in nature, and sitting still quietly. Depending how you’re feeling and where you are, I’d even recommend closing your eyes for a bit.  Sometimes I do this on my university’s campus. There’s lots of green and if done at the right time of day, it’s really me, the birds, bugs, grass, and sun.  I often find that taking just a few moments in quiet meditation outdoors just lightens my mood and give me a boost for whatever else needs to get done. Please note you can do this in the cold if you want, but I can’t say I’d recommend it.
I also take advantage of spring weather by walking more. I find that walking is a great way to kinetically problem solve, get some inspiration by the sights seen, and some exercise for the body.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Weber for Vogue Germany

Gathering the Good
It doesn’t need to be November, you don’t need a turkey or cranberry sauce, and there need not be a football game for you to be meditate on the good in your life and thankful. Taking time to note the good things going on in your life and the lives of others in addition to expressing thanksgiving is a great habit to cultivate. Once cultivated you’ll  find that it repeatedly leaves room for the clutter of nonsense and negativity. I also find that doing something good proves to be mentally and emotionally uplifting. I’m not talking about buying new shoes or a new dress that looks good and you got for a good price. I’m talking attending fundraisers for causes close to your heart that happen in the spring or volunteering for causes that are close to your  heart. A lot of organizations capitalize on spring weather for their annual galas, soirees, drives, etc. Be a part of doing something good for others.  And if you want to gather the good more often, you don’t have to wait for spring anymore than you have to wait for Thanksgiving here in the US.

Photo courtesy of A. Shlin

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