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Cleaning the Skeletons from the Closet - A Case for Spring Cleaning


“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want — oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” — Mark Twain


Cambridge Dictionary Spring Clean -

· to clean all of a place, especially your house, very well, including parts you do not often clean:

· to organize something, getting rid of the things you do not need:

· an occasion when you clean all of a place, especially your house, very well, including parts you do not often clean:

· an occasion when you organize something, getting rid of the things you do not need:


The term “Spring Cleaning” has been a part of the human lexicon ever since we left the cave for four walls and a roof. In most all cultures Spring Cleaning can be linked to kind of heavy-duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. Back in the day when the fireplace was “central air” Spring meant it was warm enough to open the windows and air out the house, clean the fireplace and wash the walls off the loot. These days we don’t have to scrub the walls of black marks from ash, however, we should make time to still scrub the walls for our physical and mental health.


Maggie Vaughan, a New York-based psychotherapist, was questioned on how cleaning during times of stress is beneficial. “It ends up becoming an informal mindfulness practice of sorts… In this state, you’re often able to observe outside thoughts, concerns, and fears with less reactivity and distress…

Not that we deliberately choose to practice mindfulness in this way, but it could be an unconscious reason why we gravitate toward cleaning in times of heightened anxiety.”



“You may very well find you think, feel, and sleep better with a clean, less cluttered space. Also, the process of sorting through items, reorganizing, and getting rid of the excess by tossing, donating, or recycling them can be mentally refreshing and liberating,” (Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, an expert in public health and nutrition).

Spring Cleaning could actually remove “the skeleton from the closet”

Our personal skeletons can come in many forms, metaphorically speaking, stress of debt, feelings of no control, relationship troubles or fears of a pandemic. Life can get overwhelming so doing a chore that is repetitive can allow the mind to relax.


“People like to be able to predict things, to know what’s coming… From a survival perspective, predictability allows us to plan and better protect ourselves from potential threats… In this state, you’re often able to observe outside thoughts, concerns, and fears with less reactivity and distress… Not that we deliberately choose to practice mindfulness in this way, but it could be an unconscious reason why we gravitate toward cleaning in times of heightened anxiety,” (Psychotherapist Maggie Vaughan).

Back in 2019, our neighbors across the pond (A cleaning company in the U.K.) conducted study about “How do you feel when your house is dirty?”

· 90% of the Brits surveyed said a messy house makes them feel unproductive and even unhappy.

· 54% said they had canceled plans because of a dirty house.

· 7 in 10 Brits ‘frequently’ argue with other occupants about household chores. More than 50% of those who argue said the kitchen is the most volatile room.

Some more interesting studies on cleanliness and person health:

· Cornell University study - people living in messy, chaotic environments consume more junk food. We all know how we feel when we eat too much junk food… It should be easy to see how eating a whole bag of chips or cookies could lead to feeling anxious.


· Princeton Neuroscience institute study - in disorganized spaces people are more stressed, distracted and less productive. It makes sense that the benefits of an uncluttered environment would lead to reduced feelings of anxiety. If a clean house, or the act of cleaning itself, reduces stress and increases feelings of productivity, then those things should help decrease levels of anxiety.

Quick Ways to get them sweet endorphins pumping

Double Bonus: Cleaning briskly kick start neuro-chemical respond to pump endorphins, which reduces stress hormones, natural mood booster and pain killer.


· Sort through clothing, toiletries, and paperwork. Get

rid of things that no longer serve you.

· Vacuum all carpeted area “vigorously”

· Scrub out the refrigerator

· Donate clothes you don’t wear anymore


Spring Cleaning benefits our Health

Keep from Tripping on Old Bones

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in more than 1 in 4 adults over age 65 fall each year (according to CDC). Just by tidying up your place you can reduce the risk of falls. “A clean home helps prevent injuries like slips, trips, bumps, and falls. Having a clear path and removing obstacles in the form of backpacks, purses, shoes, sports equipment, or shopping bags and more can help reduce the risk of accidents,” (Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, an expert in public health and nutrition).

Prevent illness

Cleaning things you touch a lot — or several people use often — can help you avoid illness and minimize the spread of viruses and bacteria.

“There is a more constant patrol of keeping things clean now [with coronavirus concerns], but it is also a great thing to tackle all those major contact points and deep-clean during spring... Keeping surfaces and sinks and items such as cutting boards clean can improve food safety, which helps minimize foodborne symptoms or illness,” (Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, an expert in public health and nutrition).

How to clean to prevent illness

· Clean the items you use most, or items that could come in contact with your mouth, eyes, or nose: cellphone, keyboard, bedding, and towels.

· Tackle several different areas in the kitchen, such as the fridge and freezer, pantry, counters, cupboards.

· Deep-clean the sink every day, as it can harbor more bacteria than a toilet.

· Clean bathrooms and other places that are shared with family members more frequently.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/5-health-benefits-of-spring-cleaning

https://www.maids.com/blog/does-cleaning-when-anxious-really-help-reduce-anxiety/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coronavirus-stress-cleaning-organizing_l_5e792b57c5b6f5b7c5498ecb

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