Even if the weather in your part of the world deceives you, it is actually Spring, which means the season for cleaning, rejuvenation, and blissful potential. But this year, before opening that dusty closet, try a different kind of Spring cleaning. Pause, breathe, and invest your time in creating positive and healthy habits that will free your mind and soul. Learn the benefits of a clear, energized mind by following these healthy habits we've compiled and are incorporating into our own Spring mindfulness cleanse.
Declutter Your Busy Mind
Everyone experiences the sense of exhausting themselves from the pressures of everyday life and trying to find a balance between school, freedom, kids, work, love, and so on. These responsibilities create myriad thoughts with a byproduct of feeling stressed and frenzied. When you're ready to discard the conscious clutter, the first step to a blissful psyche is simple: rid your mind of all the junk. Throughout the day, jot down those wild thoughts. Or after waking in a sweat from a work-related nightmare, tell your lady-bot, Alexa or Siri. Second, prioritize your thoughts into lists of importance, such as "Must Do or Will Be Bankrupt" or "Sh*t Can Wait" and everything in between. If you are an overachiever, continue into categories of wants and whimsy, such as "Elon Musk-esque Inventions" or "My Creative Bucket List."
Finally, when your day has seen enough, email yourself a list of tomorrow's tasks, and don't feel guilty about calling it a night. Remember that trying your best does not mean burning yourself out.
Take Deep Breaths and Meditate
Even nonseasoned yogis can benefit from meditation: it helps free the mind, enhances clarity, and leads practitioners to enlightenment. Meditation is the act of focusing your attention on one point of reference, whether it be your breath, the feelings in your toes, or the sounds around you, and as a practiced result, you can block distracting thoughts and focus on the present. It allows you to be the one in control of your body and mind, not the stress from your busy workweek. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, increase concentration, and improve overall heath. Setting an alarm to meditate for just five minutes a day has been shown to boost mood and emotional well-being.
Luckily, meditation is not a cookie-cutter practice, varying in form, focus, and intention. Whether you're a beginner or experienced yogi, dive into movement meditation, explore mantra meditation, or even give Transcendental Meditation a shot.
We suggest this 30-minute sequence to get your meditation practice started.
Be One With Nature
We get it — by now you think we are tree-hugging hippies. But these methods are proven to have short- and long-term effects on mental well-being, so get outside and hug that darn tree, because you deserve it! Our brains often mimic their surroundings, creating chaos in the hustle and bustle of a city and inducing serenity around a gentle ocean breeze or quiet forest clearing. Studies have shown that people living within a closer proximity to a green space report fewer feelings of anxiety and depression than those who don't. Not to mention, the sun naturally boosts levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in our brains.
Spending even 30 minutes a week outdoors will have positive effects on your psychological health, and for those multitaskers, try practicing healthy-habit number two outdoors! Try some additional fun in the sun by bringing your pet along for open-air adventures or visiting a wildlife sanctuary, since spending time with Fido and friends are also proven stress relievers. When you open yourself up to nature, you'll feel a greater connection to the world than WiFi could ever provide.
Clean That Dirty Cycle (Your Sleep Cycle, That Is)
If you're human, then you've probably woken up feeling weak and groggy from lack of sleep more times than you can count. And you're not alone. Too many people don't get enough sleep each night. Just because everyone else is staying up late doesn't mean you should be too; sleep is important! Other than looking fresh-faced, getting an adequate amount of sleep per night enhances both physiological and mental health. Sleep improves immunity, strengthens learning, consolidates memory, and helps with overall emotional regulation.
So this season, we're cleaning not only that cluttered mind but also that sleep cycle. Aside from getting the recommended seven hours of sleep, also refrain from having caffeine after 2 p.m. Research shows that it's best to cut off caffeine consumption by the mid-afternoon to avoid caffeine's sleep-disruptive effects. Lastly (and possibly the most difficult), shut off all electronics one hour before bed. The blue light from our electronics prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep/wake cycles. Without melatonin, our brains have a difficult time falling and staying asleep. Tonight, we challenge you to practice clean sleep hygiene by heading to bed an hour early. You can thank us in the morning.
Bask in Self-Love
Our last healthy habit may be the hardest. Society's idea of perfection is everywhere, from the grocery store magazines to the messages we push on kids about what is attractive. The burden of unattainable perfection has a negative impact on our self-love and -worth. In the spirit of Spring cleaning, it's time to get rid of those nasty, negative thoughts about ourselves. Wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and tell yourself you are a special, worthy, intelligent, kickass boss chick, and breathe it all day and night.
Try writing "Here I Am" on a Post-it note, and stick it on your medicine cabinet to see each morning instead. Doing so will boost levels of confidence and help rid insecurities from your past that may plague your present. Remember: everyone makes mistakes. Forgive yourself for all the regrets and actions that may have caused you and others pain, learn from those times, and move forward. The purge of negativity is the best cleanse of all and the most freeing.