Let's admit it. We all have developed some sort of unhealthy habit during COVID-19. For those of you who have been able to take this time to develop healthier lifestyles, congratulations-- continue to be a helpful example of what we can all achieve. For the rest of us, taking this opportunity to address some admittedly unhealthy practices; here is a helpful first step.
What better time to make a change than now, SPRING! It is time for some personal Spring Cleaning to improve mental health and overall wellness. Here are positive, uplifting, and encouraging suggestions to start this Spring feeling better than ever.
Here are our top 6 Spring Cleaning Suggestions:
1. Stop being a couch potato.
Now, I am not here to judge, in fact, in most capacities, this blog itself was created out of me having to take accountability for starting to lounge around my house far more than I have ever done before. While part of this behavior was due to Quarantine restrictions and guidelines; I had to acknowledge that the other part of the equation was that I had now been accustomed to becoming too relaxed. It is scientifically proven that the mind and body both benefit from stimulating activity, and no, I am not talking about going back to binge-watching 'Breaking Bad' while eating a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I mean feeding yourself with knowledge through reading a good book, taking a break to stretch, or trying new yoga stretches.
2. Make healthier choices.
Get rid of those unhealthy foods that you have been binge eating and replace them with healthier choices. Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are bigger factors at play. According to Feeding America, the impact of the Coronavirus on food insecurity has been devastating, projecting that 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 6 children will lack sufficient food in 2021 because of financial insecurity. The unfortunate reality is that for many of us, it is difficult to sustain healthy eating because healthy choices can be expensive and food prep takes time.
Have you always wanted to try a new recipe? Go for it! For now, let's put away our favorite greasy chips and buy real potatoes to bake in the oven. Are you an avid fan of Chipotle and craving something similar? Venture to the kitchen and try your best to mimic the savory tastes of your favorite restaurants using fresh, natural foods.
3. Declutter your space.
Get rid of all unnecessary materials that may be cluttering your space. The fact is that COVID-19 has also forced us to adjust our homes in many ways to best fit the needs of our life necessities. Every nook and cranny of our personal space has had to fulfill the purpose of being presentable enough for the workplace, and comfortable enough to be able to feel like you are still in your own space, all while preparing for the uncertainty that lies ahead. Take this time to declutter your space and make it your own again. Have there been any DIY projects that you have been holding off on? Are there decorative ideas that you have been more inspired to try? This is the time to rid yourself of any material baggage that is cluttering your physical space. A clearer space equates to a healthier, happier, and more peaceful life.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Has this year been stressful for you too, or was it just me? I'd like to think that I am not the only one who struggled to keep my footing this year, but at the same time, I'm hopeful that others haven't struggled nearly as much. Regardless, I want us all to rid ourselves of any negative emotions, bleak thoughts, or anything that is not conducive to having a positive mindset. Please be kind to yourself and introduce nothing but positivity in your life. The best start to feeling better sometimes doesn't come from external things, but truly starts from within. In the prophetic words of Roy T. Bennet, “More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” (The Light in the Heart). What I have found helpful to encourage these thoughts is to read positive words of affirmation to myself every morning. Reaffirm to yourself that you are worthy of all things good and watch how your days seem to miraculously become slightly more fluid and uplifting.
5. Be compassionate towards others.
In addition to intentionally being kinder to yourself, try leaning into the compassionate side of loving-kindness meditation, an ancient Buddhist prescription for reducing anxiety. “Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is part concentration and part heart-opening practice,” says Stephanie Swann, Ph.D., a certified instructor at the Atlanta Mindfulness Institute. According to the Journal of Happiness Studies, subjects who practice LKM exhibit higher levels of social connectedness and empathy, and lower levels of anxiety. This benevolent type of meditation is simple and easy to learn. Start by offering loving-kindness to yourself, the offer love to others.
Repeat these phrases for two to three minutes:
- May I be safe
- May I be happy
- May I be healthy
- May I live with ease
Then offer loving-kindness to a mentor or family member, a neutral person, such as a health care worker you don’t know, or a person with whom you have difficulty, and finish by offering loving-kindness to all beings everywhere.
I don't know who you are, or what your story is, but know that I honor you and want you to live your life to the fullest while being your most authentic self. What other things do you feel like you can clean, declutter or remove from your life this last piece is dedicated to you taking the time to reflect on anything that takes you away from being your most true, authentic, happy, and loving self.
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