What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the phrase “spring cleaning?” Is it that you need to donate the clothing that you promised yourself you would wear, but always pass over when looking for an outfit? Is it the triton to-go boxes that have piled up because the machine always seems to be down right when you need it? When I usually think about this idea of getting rid of old to make room for new, my mind pivots mainly to the physical act of decluttering. One thing I noticed through all of this was that most of spring cleaning focused on this spiritual cleansing of oneself for a new cycle — whether that is the new year, Passover, or something else. So, the question I suppose I should ask is why are we solely focused on the decluttering of our space?
It’s not to say that decluttering isn’t important. I personally find when my space is clean, I am calm. However, we are coming into our fourth week of Spring Quarter 2022, and I for one already see my space reflecting my mind. Clothes that aren’t dirty but aren’t clean shoved into a corner, my once-empty desk piling up with papers missing folders and a couple water bottles that definitely need washing. I always see those instagram posts about spring cleaning, and I admit that my first thought of this phenomena is making your space nice and neat. But when looking at all of these physical, material items that pile up into giant mess, I notice that I’m equating my mental health to what I can see, and not what I can feel. Spring cleaning should go further than your space, and by the end of this article, you’ll be able to list all the ways you can bring in the new season for a better space, body, and mind.
Declutter your space
I know, I just spent two paragraphs saying let’s not focus on our space, but I promise it is an important part of this equation. As we are in our Spring Quarter and counting down the weeks until summer break, I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about what I should do with all of the things I acquired over the last six months. The quarter system goes back very fast, so to help minimize the stress of packing, donating, and selling, I have a goal that by each Saturday I will pack one part of my room. Last weekend I packed up my printer and my extra monitor that I keep on my desk, and also gathered everything that I would like to sell. Next weekend, my goal is to take photos of everything that I put in the sell pile and, because I have an apartment, pack up any kitchen supplies I don’t expect to use in these next six or so weeks. In addition to selling, there are many resources when it comes to donating. My friend informed me that places like Goodwill and Salvation Army will actually come and pick up boxes of items that you wish to donate for free! I didn’t know that this was an option, but it can be a great resource if you don’t have the ability to travel off campus to donate items!
Declutter your mind
I listened to a talk recently by Garry Ridge, and one thing he said really stood out to me. He said “Stress is the feeling of being unable to have the resources to complete a goal.” Whether that resource is time, money, or room, we start to say we don’t have some of these items—which, when it comes to monetary needs, can be very true. I want to focus on refreshing the way I tackle issues, and how I let my mind be its best as much as possible. A few ideas that come to me when I think of decluttering my mind are: reevaluating relationships, time management skills, and allowing yourself breaks.
College is where you meet a lot of long-term acquaintances and friends, and maybe even more, but this also means meeting new people who are toxic or do not align with who you are as a person. It is okay to acknowledge this! Really think about if your relationships are benefitting you, analyze where you might be causing the issues in relationships, and make plans with the people who feel good to be around. Surrounding yourself with people you connect with is one of the best ways to destress, which ultimately leads to a better mind.
Now, I know that the quarter system leaves very little room for breaks, but there still is room. Whether that is early in the morning, late at night, or in between lectures, take time for yourself to adjust. We are in uncertain times right now, and this quarter is the first one in two years that is 100 percent in person! It is okay to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and have low social energy. This is the time to rekindle hobbies that take your mind away from the busy world of academia. For me, that’s taking a “for-fun” book with me everywhere I go and wearing noise-canceling headphones to help not become over-stimulated with all the loud atmospheres. I also try to make it a goal to not go on my phone in the morning for at least the first twenty minutes as my eyes adjust to the room and my body accepts it’s time to get ready.
Finally, we’ve set the scene for what every college student needs but may not have: time management skills. Ah, the horror! How could we ever manage our time when our university doesn’t give us notice about anything? (That was an exaggeration… maybe). My time management skills are based solely around motivation and reward. I also follow the block method that I found somewhere on YouTube a while ago, which is essentially mapping out blocks of productivity and breaks. At the end of your productivity block, which can range from 30 minutes to an hour — and you really shouldn’t go past an hour, as that’s when our productivity lowers — no matter if you finished your work or not, you jot down bullet points of your train of thought and then put it away. My reward during my break might be finishing part of a course in Mario Nintendo 64, or the newest episode of a show — something that gives a definite ending place. The days feel shorter with everything in person, but it’s all about balance.
Declutter your body
Now, this is where I think most of us have issues. With everything going back in person, it definitely ruined the healthy schedule that I made when we were remote. Instead of twenty minute morning stretches and a home cooked breakfast, my wake up period coincides with my getting ready period, with about fifteen minutes to wake up. Sleep in general decreased, and I’m lucky if I’m asleep by midnight so I can have about seven hours of sleep. But sleep is very important—yes, the annoying phrase that is much easier to say than to do, especially as a college student. I’m not saying you need to go to bed at 10 p.m. every night, but most professionals say the best kind of sleep is regular sleep. This means going to bed around the same time every day. Whether that means you go to sleep at 3 a.m. and wake up at 10 a.m., or going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m., you should have a consistent time that you fall asleep and wake up. This helps with concentration, mood regulation, and overall you just feel more rested when you have a fixed circadian rhythm.
Something that relates to sleep is fitness. Sometimes when we can’t fall asleep, it’s because we have too much energy and/or are overstimulated. While a fitness schedule will look different depending on who you talk to, movement is medicine! (I saw that on a billboard once and now my father always quotes it.) Being able to move in whatever way works for you and your bodily needs can help you calm down in the late hours. I notice even if my movement is just stretching and then walking for twenty minutes at a time — which we already have to do as students — that I am able to go to bed much easier and have deeper rest. This also helps declutter your mind, especially if you have mental illnesses. My ADHD and anxiety are way easier to manage when I can get some of that nervous energy out.
To end this triangle of wellness, the food we put into our body dictates our energy levels and mood. Have you ever gotten the overwhelming urge that you just NEED to eat a piece of fruit? Or down a green smoothie? Eating 2–3 meals a day is usually best, but of course, do what you and/or professionals have said is best for you, no matter what that looks like. Nothing is bad for you in proportion. Eating a serving size of takis — which no, is not the whole bag — is perfectly fine! I use the app LoseIt,mainly because it has a lot of UC San Diego dining hall foods on it,so I can make sure I’m around the ballpark for what I need based on what nutritionists have said. If you need help with proper nutrition, we have a free nutritionist on campus for students with UCSHIP!
I hope that this article gave you a different perspective on what it means to clean for spring as much as it did for me while I researched the topic! Again, all of these are just suggestions, and at the end of the day, you know what is best for you. I’m so glad to be fully back in person, even if it’s only for ten small weeks of the whole school year. Now, if only this weather would match the season, we might be able to enjoy the twenty minute walks to class!