Soothing Sunday: Cleaning up

This is absolutely going to be one of those posts where “your mileage may vary.” However, there’s a reason for writing this one. The fact is, study after study shows that cleaning and organizing improves your state of mind. I want to clarify a few things before I get into the real meat of this post, though.

  1. Cleaning does not have to mean “a spotless home in every aspect.” Movies and TV shows have spotless homes because they’re props for the actors, not real life. We live in the real world.
  2. You don’t have to “clean all the things.” Pick ONE.
  3. If you’ve been on top of the cleaning, try organizing! My poor desk. It needs managing so badly right now. Want to come do it for me?

Well, now that we’ve established what this post isn’t about, what IS it about?

Cleaning up your spaces is a physical representation of the fact that you control your life. Especially when fighting against anxiety or depression, that sense of control is important because it gives a foothold to your self-confidence.

Another way it’s helpful to clean is that messes get overwhelming. I fall prey to this one, myself, so I am very aware of it. A coffee cup in the sink suddenly turns into an entire day worth of dishes. The larger the mess looks, the harder it is to get to it. That starts up a cycle of feeling like I “should” do something, but my brain would rather tell me all about how terrible I am as a person because I didn’t. Then I get depressed, don’t do anything, and the cycle repeats.

Sound familiar? It applies everywhere. The more I work on this post, the more I think maybe it’s time to handle my desk and get it back in order. Every time I look at the shape it’s in, I just feel overwhelmed. I’ll have to list where to begin and what to work on.

Here’s how to make cleaning become something you can use to calm your mind and your space.

When washing dishes, actually feel the water and soap. Focus on the weight of each dish and the various textures.

If you’re dusting or cleaning up a floor, pay attention to the difference between what you cleaned and what you haven’t. Watch the clean space spread and take over. If you use a carpet deodorizer, scented floor soaps, etc., focus on those smells.

If you don’t have any cleaning to do, look for something to de-clutter. Is there a closet you have been dumping things into? Start by sorting it out, one thing at a time. If it has shelves, do one shelf at a time. Stacked with boxes? Start with the smallest, do one at a time. As you work, make NO commitment to complete another step until the first one is done.

That brings me to the last piece of this post.

It’s okay to have a cleaning project that takes several days or longer. No one is going to show up and fine you, take away your home, or threaten you if you do a piece at a time. Are those closets really overwhelming? Remember, one small box at a time. If you do one box a week, it may take some time, but you’re making progress!

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