Here's How Cleaning Can Put a Spring in Your Step


Spring is around the corner and even in the land of eternalsummer, Spring signifies renewal and rebirth, and for most people the need fora good deep clean. As a reformed messy person, I can attest to something Idenied for a long time; cleaning is therapeutic.

Until recently cleaning was a relatively awful chore for me, because I would wait until so much clutter had accumulated, cleaning would be a full-day project. Slowly I realized that I owned far more than I ever used and that cleaning absolutely had to be a habit to keep it from becoming overwhelming.  

Marie Kondo has popularized the idea of only having things in your home that spark joy. Regardless of your method of deciding what makes the cut, it is highly likely that if you decreased the number of items you have, your home will be more organized and less cluttered. Clutter has been linked to increased stress and even cortisol levels in some studies. Clutter tends to weigh on our minds the way that organized items do not. Think about it, is there a drawer in your house of unread mail? What that really means is there are probably bills you are ignoring and information you need to address just piling up. It isn’t just paper, it’s a stack of unorganized responsibilities. Once you open them and make a plan to deal with them, even if you don’t address every issue right away, you’ll feel the weight of the clutter lift.

Doing an annual or semi-annual review of your clutter, throwing out what isn’t needed, and making plans for the things you need is cleansing. This is also a great way to remind yourself to use the things you really love. Most of us get so caught up in our need-to-do tasks, we forget about the things we own for pure enjoyment. Pull out that paint set from the back of the closet and put it in a more accessible place. Organizing should not only be about the functional needs of the house but the emotional needs of its inhabitants.

The act of cleaning in and of itself is also helpful by giving you a sense of control over your environment.  You end up with a tangible representation of your productivity which you are able to see, smell, and feel. It is also moderately physically demanding, and distracting, which allows you to take the focus of more stressful things like work or relationship issues. If you make it a regular habit, you get these benefits over and over and likely less fighting over whose shoes are in the hallway.

If you are a mess addict like myself, a deep clean probably seems as daunting as rehab, but you can start small. You can approach a thoroughly deep clean in one of two ways; start with the worst area first and get it out of the way, or, start with the easiest area to build momentum. You may even want to enlist family members with specific tasks or invite a friend over whose organizational style you admire to give you pointers. Watch Marie Kondo’s streaming series to get inspired or take cues from Pinterest pages you love. If you take some time to psych yourself up, it will feel less like a chore and more like a fun project.

The real magic of cleaning is that all of your tasks become less stressful. We all know the feeling of needing to do something and not being able to quickly find the tools we need to do it. If your home, office, and car are all organized, any task you need to complete will be simpler. If every task is easier, your whole life is easier, and that is where cleaning is really powerful. You won’t be embarrassed by your home when your in-laws stop by unannounced or a coworker needs a ride. You won’t track down your tax information come April, or have to hunt for an aspirin when you have a headache. If you change your environment, you change your life.

Sarah Russ, LCSW is a mental health professional in Miami focused on practical, actionable therapeutic strategies for mental well-being in a world of overstimulation and misconceptions about what constitutes true self-care. Sarah received her Master of Social Work from NYU and has been working in mental health for seven years. She specializes in healthy coping strategies and crisis management for those with chronic illnesses, substance use, and anxiety. You can follow her @mentalhealthformillenials or schedule a session with her at Arvon & Associates in Aventura, Doral, or Virtually by calling 305-936-8000.

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