After the holidays, we usually head into a new year with a lot of clutter. We get back to work and try to fit in our resolutions. As the days start to lengthen again and we have more sunshine to lift our energy, we look for ways to refresh. Studies show that the chaos in our surroundings will cause chaos in our minds. I can certainly tell that I need to organize my piles of notebooks and junk to focus better. But what's next? Cleaning our homes won't clear up all of our mental cobwebs - it's time to do some spring cleaning in our minds
Are you a fan of making to-do lists? It's something I do a lot, even for simple things. I usually don't have to refer back to the list, but having my tasks visualized and in order makes me feel less scattered. There are a few ways we can use lists for our mental spring cleaning:
Make a list of distractions (mindless scrolling, annoying sounds in your home, texts, phone conversations, tv). Every time you have trouble focusing on something, look at the list and determine how to eliminate or set a time for those things.
Set a routine. I'm the kind of person who feels discouraged when I do the same thing every day, yet I need a routine to stay motivated. If you don't like the idea of a tight schedule, make your routine a simple list of categories for each day. For example, part of your routine could be reading before work. Sometimes, that could mean reading several chapters of a book. Other times, you could feel more inclined to check out an intriguing article or the "Word of the Day." The goal is to set different headspaces throughout your day to give you more intention and rhythm.
Purge your anxieties. Sometimes it's hard to say or write the worries that plague our minds the most. That is either because, deep down, we know our fears aren't valid or because we know they are realistic and we have no control. The only way to keep those fears from paralyzing us is to face them. Write your most pressing anxieties in a "to-do" style list and take time to ponder each one. Is there anything you can do to change the outcome of these fears? If not, check them off and give them to God. Don't make them a part of your routine. If your worries are about your capabilities and responsibilities, take an action from each of those fears and write a positive list. For example, if you have anxiety about how you're doing at work, make a "to-do" of ways you can find more joy and motivation at your job. Rather than stressing about the pressure of doing better, you'll move forward when you understand and pursue your overall goals.
"Go outside and get some fresh air!" is not the solution to everything. However, it is a game-changer. On days when I overthink every detail of my life, my whole view opens up once I step foot outside my home. God did not create us to be sedentary, so when we shelter ourselves from the world, we seek stimulation in our minds. Whether it's media, our thoughts, or any other intellectual activity, we overload our minds when we live inside them all the time. We need to connect with the natural world in the moment to feel healthy and alert. So when you plan your routine, make sure to spend at least a few minutes per day just breathing fresh air.
As I go through different steps in life, I've noticed how many small details are attached to my identity. Whether it's a philosophical belief or superficial interest, there are things I hold on to only because they're assumed traits of "me." The problem is, I've realized that I think differently about some of those things now, or there are new interests that I care about more. It can strangely feel like a big commitment to let go of those things because of how people relate them to you or how you see yourself. Yet, change doesn't have to mean those ideas never mattered to you; it means they'll take up space for new things if you don't let them go. What would it look like if you were to make a "word cloud" about yourself? Which of those words are still a part of your decisions and passions? Which ones would your genuine self replace with new words?
This is pretty straightforward. Who are your friends? Do you have someone you can be yourself with and talk through your mind-clutter? Are there tensions with certain people that you need to clear up? Unsaid conflict can cause an enormous mess in our thoughts and emotions. If you choose communication and forgiveness, you will lift a weight off your shoulders and open doors to mutual support.
The essential path to peace is prayer. Without prayer, we rely on our minds to help our minds. It sounds like a tiring circle, doesn't it? God is our Creator and our greatest source of clarity. God tells us to fill our minds and souls with His Spirit and Word so that we don't chase the confusion of the world. We can practice biblical mindfulness by spending time in Scripture and talking to God about every issue that enters our thoughts. Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting things in order; it’s about making habits that bring us closer to our purpose. The more we trust God and follow Jesus, the less clutter will take hold in our lives.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.