Depending on where you live, you may or may not have been able to tell it from walking outside but I am happy to confirm for you that it truly is Spring. While Spring is not my favorite season (that honor goes to Fall, with its multi-hued leaves, the smell of mulled cider, and the beautifully crisp autumn air), it is a time to which I look forward every year for one very specific reason: Spring cleaning.
Like many of you, I seem to have a deeply embedded instinct to accumulate items over the year, a fact only exacerbated by winter holiday gifts. This intake has only increased over the last two years, as the COVID pandemic has made it increasingly easy for my family and me to have new products delivered right to our doorstep. While these services have been a real life saver, both literally and figuratively, this fact also means that I have much more clutter in my home than perhaps ever before.
Interestingly, recent research is finding that the state of one’s physical environment is often inextricably tied to one’s mental state. That is, physical clutter in one’s home can be a significant contributor to mental clutter in the form of depression, anxiety, etc.
This is where the joy of Spring cleaning comes in. By intentionally removing clutter from our physical space, we make it easier for us to clear up our mental space, giving us the room we need for those activities that truly matter, like spending time together and talking over a glass of lemonade or, as is the norm in the South where I was born, incredibly sweet iced tea.
This connection between clutter and mental health runs even deeper than you may have imagined. Our brains actually produce clutter in the form of plaques of beta amyloid proteins that can inhibit cognitive function. This is, in fact, one of the most significant known causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
What is exciting is that, just as we can be intentional about decluttering our physical environment, we can also be intentional about decluttering our brains. Scientists have found that 40Hz light therapy, where a light is flickering at 40 cycles per second, can actually help our brains flush out these deposits of plaques, improving our sleep and boosting our memory and attention. Best of all, 40Hz light therapy is available today, without a doctor’s prescription.
So, if you’re looking for activities to do this Spring that can help to greatly improve both your physical and mental space, start by focusing on decluttering both your home and your brain. Your future self will appreciate the extra time, focus, and memories it can provide.