Back in the days when houses were heated with coal and lit with candles, the end of winter was the first opportunity to open doors and windows, haul the furniture outside, and spend a day scrubbing away months of soot and ash. Today, although winter is less likely to cause a build-up of visible grime, spring still represents a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. Emotional spring cleaning can be just as important to healthy living as physical spring cleaning was generations ago.
This spring, go ahead and clean your home and your office, but save some time and energy to care for your emotional self as well. These four tips can help:
1. Clear out the clutter.
Take a look at your calendar — are your days packed with obligations and commitments, to the point that you feel overwhelmed? Many people have difficulty saying “no” and find themselves involved in things that fail to support their values, utilize their gifts, or give satisfaction. Ask yourself why you are doing the things you’re doing — are you helping someone, relieving guilt, avoiding something else, investing in your future, keeping a promise, learning something new, being an example for your children? With those underlying reasons in mind, decide which activities matter the most and deserve your time and energy. Eliminate the rest!
2. Do one thing at a time.
People today (perhaps women especially?) take a certain amount of pride in being able to multi-task. But if you’re already under stress, even the ordinary buzz of your ordinary busy day can seem unbearable. Give yourself permission to focus on just one thing at a time, setting aside the rest for later. Watching yourself complete a list of tasks one-by-one can give you an enormous sense of accomplishment by the end of the day. And that sense of accomplishment is like a spring breeze through an open window!
3. Get the sleep you need.
Sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Our brains don’t shut down during sleep, but they spend that time sorting information and organizing it for easy access. So getting enough sleep actually improves your memory and enhances your problem-solving skills. (See Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease for more information on the healing power of sleep.) Caregivers take note: being well-rested can also increase your ability to understand and empathize with others.
4. Don’t be a hero — ask for help.
Get over your tendency to go it alone. The true heroes are those who recognize the Biblical concept of interdependence. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5, NIV) There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, life is better when we value the contributions of others.
Providence offers services that you can tap into when you need some caregiving help. For example:
- Respite Care is a short-term stay at one of our communities. Your loved one gets professional care, and you get peace of mind and a much-needed break.
- Home care includes a range of medical and non-medical services. Some are covered by insurance or Medicare; some require out-of-pocket payment. All are designed to provide needed care while giving the family caregiver a break.
This spring, make sure you give yourself a fresh start. Emotional spring cleaning is one way to stay as healthy as possible — for your loved one, but also for yourself.