That Spring Clean Feeling

Do you use a new season as a time to reset? What do you do?

June 25, 2019

As we pivot from Spring to Summer, I have just completed some spring cleaning at home, and I thought of a Forbes article I read earlier this year on How To Get That Spring Clean Feeling Mentally and Emotionally This Season. The article suggests that as we clear out and freshen our homes, we should and can take time to give attention to our mental and emotional well-being, too.

Do you use a new season as a time to reset? What do you do?

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

It just so happens that spring coincides with our annual review process. I just finished going over what I accomplished over this past year, and now I'm working to come up with goals for the next one. And while I know that these processes can sometimes be at best perfunctory and at worst a waste of time, I've really appreciated the process as an opportunity to reflect, take a breath and then look forward. I've started to do a similar thing with my writing in December -- go back over everything I've written/published over the past 12 months, and then look forward to what I have coming ahead. I think in our culture of overwork and business, we tend to overlook or underplay our accomplishments, and these two places are an opportunity for me to say, hey, I did accomplish a lot, and the time to plan what I am going to do. The intentionality is new for me; for the first time I'm not blindly crashing from one opportunity to another, but deciding for myself what I want to do and what I value now.

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

As I type, our doctoral hooding ceremony is live streamed on my laptop. We haven't had a proper spring in Chicago this year. Tomorrow, we hold commencement, and summer supposedly starts. Nonetheless, we remain cold, and the sun remains in hiding. I have shaken many parents' hands in the last 36 hours and will shake many more. It offers me an end-of-year closure. I return children -- whether 22 or 32 -- to their families, who celebrate their survival of trials and triumphs during their time on campus. By any standard, I have failed at spring cleaning my home. The laundry remains unfolded; a remote is AWOL in the basement. For that matter, I still have two large piles of unsorted paper on my desk at work. Still, I feel something special as I watch mortar boards bob across stages and streets. For this, I don't need the sun to feel warmth, and I hope it counts as clean.

Mary Churchill, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

I try to reset and reframe as much as possible, approaching most mornings as a new start. I also do a bigger check in on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. I am usually up by 5 in a very quiet house, writing, and my writing begins with a bit of reflection on the day before and then some thoughts about the day to come. On Sundays, I try to do the same thing for the week -- asking myself what were the highs and lows of the prior week and what am I looking forward to and what am I dreading in the week to come. This helps give me perspective in the long run and helps me to see where I need to reframe and reprioritize my goals. We are almost to the halfway point of the calendar year -- hard to believe! -- so I am gearing up for a quarterly check in and thinking that the next three months are full of new ideas and opportunities. While June has been a month of reflection on the prior academic year and finalizing and tweaking goals for the coming year, July will be focused on planning, August will be about preparing for the start of the academic year and September will be about implementing those plans as AY 2019-20 begins.

Mentally and emotionally, this year has been focused on what I am calling healthy habits: yoga, meditation, walking, good sleep, healthy eating and morning journaling. I try to do each of these every day and when I miss too many days in a row, it shows. I've come to realize that getting a good night's sleep is the single most important thing I can do for myself and it gets the highest priority on my daily calendar!

Meg Palladino, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

When I think about spring cleaning, I usually frame it in thinking about what I want to do over the summer, and the things I need to put into place to be ready. Since I am super busy at work in the summer, I want to maximize my free time and minimize my anxiety. At home, I clean out closets and use up all the food I've hoarded in the pantry over the winter. I plan my late summer vacation, and set up summer camp for my son. I put stickers on the calendar on the kitchen wall to mark events and important dates. At work, I make lists and fill my calendars with reminders of things I need to do. If everything is on a list or on my calendar, I don't worry. Spring clean to me feels stress-free and fun. I'm still trying to perfect this feeling!

Do you use a new season as a time to reset? What do you do?



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