The New Year offers everyone a chance to start over. Across the world, people take the opportunity to reevaluate their lives over the winter break. For many, New Year’s resolutions involve getting healthier, whether that’s a gym membership or cutting out processed foods, while others may try to read more or call home once a week. Whatever the resolution, everyone craves positive change.
But, by the time spring rolls around, many have foregone these lifestyle changes. However, the seasonal tendency to ‘spring clean’ out our living space offers us an opportunity to revisit forgotten resolutions. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to apply only to a living space. It can also apply to our inner selves, especially after a tough year or a time of change. Below are five tried-and-true ways that experts and lifestyle bloggers recommend to reinvigorate ourselves—starting within.
Try Something New
A recent study of 2,000 Americans indicated that at least 60% of those interviewed thought their lives were too ‘grown up’. Trying new things is one surefire way to reinvigorate a lagging lifestyle, but the search for a new interest doesn’t have to be difficult. In the Western world, reading, sports entertainment, and travel account for top hobbies. If non-fiction books aren’t your thing, there are always graphic novels or audio books; if noisy stadiums overwhelm you, then companies like Oddschecker can provide a remote sports experience; and if travel sounds out of your budget, then keep your itinerary local and remember that 312,000 Americans use buses for travel annually.
No matter what hobby or activity you choose to undertake, approach it with a positive attitude. Even if you find out that books, betting, or bus travel aren’t for you, what’s most important is stepping out of our comfort zones to approach life in a fresh way.
As aforementioned, many Americans choose bus travel to get around. If budget is a concern for the inner-self spring cleaner, then there are ample opportunities to see the country, or even your county, differently. For example, WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. While the organization’s name may bring to mind thoughts of manual labor, family farmers who choose to host their home for travelers don’t expect a day of backbreaking work from their guests. In fact, some WWOOF-certified homes are focused on rehabilitating domesticated animals, or tending to vineyards (see: wine).
All hosts are background checked and happy to host, though the minimum stay is usually around two weeks. For those who may not be interested in a rural excursion, another cheap alternative is CouchSurfing. With CouchSurfing, travelers are hosted by someone with extra space and a penchant for making new friends. Again, like WWOOF, all users are subject to review by CouchSurfing as well as their visitors.
Cooking isn’t necessarily about what goes into the oven or how well it turns out. Actually, cooking can be a highly social event, bringing friends or family together. Inviting guests over to spend an afternoon chopping, sautéing, or baking helps boost mood and social interaction skills. Plus, if things end up burnt or just outright inedible, calling in for delivery is always an option. After all, learning to cook is a challenging endeavour that will require patience and dedication. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time.
Cooking doesn’t have to be a purely social engagement. The benefits of learning to cook is that we get into touch with our own bodies. In fact, by learning what our bodies crave and how to create those meals for ourselves, we become more in-touch with the physical aspect of our lives. Not to mention, cooking can help guide time management skills and financial management.
From 2003-2016, men and women showed at least a 5% increase in home cooking. While women still cook more than men, the general increased interest in learning to cook from home signifies what the first point of ‘spring cleaning the self’ is all about: trying something new.
Decluttering the Home
Now we move to the heart of spring cleaning the self—spring cleaning the space. There are, on average, 300,000 items in the American home. Decluttering refreshes our energy, physical and internal, and it is thought that having an organized living space helps us keep ourselves more organized. In short: our external environment will reflect, and help define, our internal reality.
So, if one out of every ten Americans has to rent an extra storage space outside of the home, we may need to consider why, despite the fact that the American home has tripled in size in the past fifty years, we need more stuff. The concerns aren’t only about personal well-being, as more ‘stuff’ affects finances as well as time and energy. To declutter the home is, in many ways, to declutter the self.
Many people are familiar with what is commonly known as the ‘yes challenge’. YouTube and other social media platforms are rife with videos of siblings, friends, or strangers who simply decide to say ‘yes’ to every question, challenge, or dare that comes their way for 24 hours—often with unexpected and hilarious consequences.
For instance, US writer Shona Rhimes (producer of shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) undertook this challenge with marvelous results. In short, the benefits of choosing to say ‘yes’ to opportunities that were within the bounds of financial and time constrictions, were manifold. By diving head-first into situations and figuring out the finer details later, many who undertook this challenge, such as Rhimes, cited less over-analyzing, more ‘just doing’ instead of daydreaming, and, most importantly, learning how to fail.
While it may seem antithetical to encourage anyone to fail, especially while also encouraging someone to declutter their inner self, it’s important to realize that we will fail whether or not we step out of our comfort zone and encounter new challenges. What is most important is that we know that failure happens, and that we also have a strong understanding of our strengths. Saying ‘yes’ to everything (again, within reason), will put us in situations where we inevitably fail, but it will also expose us to opportunities in which we shine in ways we never thought we could.