Spring calls for a necessary deep clean, and for registered clinical psychologist Dr. Cher McGillivray, the laundry list shouldn’t neglect the mental space. Even more cathartic? Her five-step mental spring clean.
According to Dr Cher McGillivray, assistant professor at Bond University, 78 per cent of Australians intend to declutter their homes this spring – wiping away cobwebs and sorting through regretful panic buys. But while most people are across the notion of spring cleaning in a physical sense, our mental welfare is often overlooked.
Known as a ‘temporal landmark,’ spring signifies transition and new beginnings. It could be commencing another term at school, entering a new relationship, or ending a relationship that no longer serves you, or even moving away. Whatever it looks like for you, it's an opportunity for necessary change and renewal.
This means it's the perfect opportunity for a mental spring clean, too. Here, Dr McGillivray says her top tips for perfecting the mental spring clean this year.
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Table of Contents
1. Schedule in time for quiet
As the weather heats up, many people's instincts is to pack up their schedule and spend as much time socialising as possible. But while the end of winter is a great time to get out and about, Dr McGillivray says that carving out even hald an hour to do a relaxing activity can significantly impact your mental health.
“Doing so will modulate stress response systems in the mind and reduce physical symptoms of stress by helping to lower blood pressure and ease your breathing,” says Dr McGillivray.
So whether you enjoy reading a book, settling in for a yoga session, or going for a long walk in nature – be sure to schedule in time for solitude amidst all the socialisation.
2. Try journaling
Journaling not only gives you a chance to organise your ideas and feelings, but it can also reduce stress, says Dr McGillivray.
“It’s important to remember that 85 per cent of the things we worry about never happen, and we tend to cope better than we expect with the 15 per cent that does, even gaining a sense of worth from them,” says Dr. McGillivray.
“This means that essentially, 97 per cent of what we worry over is little more than a fearful mind exaggerating misperceptions,” she states.
By getting it down on paper, you can "visualise them more clearly, helping your mind to solve any problems and put things into perspective.
3. Tackle the emotional stuff
"It's likely that everyone is holding on to some emotional baggage," says Dr McGillivray. But holding onto this pain without working through it is the opposite of healthy.
“Holding on to these feelings is likely to clog up your mind with emotions and, if you don't do anything to change this, you might lose considerable time without making any progress,” she says..
“Taking action to focus on your truth and what is right for you can help you resume living in a state of ease."
4. Ask for help
It's not always easy, but reaching out for support when you need it is one of the best promises you can make for yourself – and when better to drive home that message than at the start of a new season?
“Everyone needs mental support, and asking for help is an easy way to reduce stress, vent your feelings and get the backup you need,” says Dr McGillivray.
"Men may be less inclined to seek help and support, so checking in with your mates and engaging with men’s mental health conversations through podcasts, for example, can be helpful. "
Services like the Black Dog Institute, Lifeline and Beyond Blue are all great resources for anyone struggling with their mental health, as is your GP who can refer you to a specialist if needed.
5. Refresh yourself
Much like 'Kondo-ing' your wardrobe can be deeply satisfying, a spring clean for your mind can work wonders, too.
"By practising self-care, letting go of stress and focusing on your future, you can ready your mind for whatever comes next," says Dr McGillivray.
"Don’t let transitions break you, let them be your breakthrough with a spring clean for the mind."