I grew up in a family that had a tradition of spring cleaning. My grandmother was especially thorough and even washed the walls of her attic, which was only used for storing her holiday decorations. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) I do have to pace myself and wasn’t able to match her rigor, I do feel that there’s something regenerative about spring cleaning your HSP life.
Have you ever wondered why so many cultures and religions have traditions of cleaning, often tied to spring or the new year? Some of the reasons are practical: spring is a chance to clean away smoke or soot, hang laundry and rugs outside to air, and let the breeze clear out dust and stale air. Whether cleaning or organizing, there seems to be a symbolic quality to the clearing-out process. Perhaps there is a universal human desire to clear out the old and make a fresh start.
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Rituals of Spring Cleaning and Decluttering for HSPs
Highly sensitive people may be especially receptive to spring cleaning, although you can adapt the ritual to any time that fits you and your life. The process reduces the clutter and grime that otherwise capture our attention, which can help reduce feelings of emotional arousal and overwhelm. Even if we don’t like doing the work to make it happen, having clean, orderly surroundings is usually a delight to HSPs. And getting the chores done allows us to stop thinking and thinking about what still needs to be accomplished, which helps rein in our active brains.
I’d like to invite you to think about spring cleaning your HSP life, not just your home. Before you start, please remind yourself that this is a process; you do not need to do everything at once. You can pick and choose what to do, based on what’s right for you (sorry, Grandma, my attic always will be dusty).
There is no right or wrong way to go about the process, but I encourage you to be patient as the process unfolds. Some tasks might be relatively simple to accomplish, whereas others may take months or even years to finish. It can be helpful to set a series of micro goals that are small, easier to attain (and harder to justify avoiding). For instance, if your ultimate goal is to clean out your kitchen cabinets, you might break that down into many manageable steps, such as taking everything off of a single shelf of one cabinet at a time; making piles of items to keep, donate, recycle; wiping down the shelf or replacing shelf liner; replacing items; wiping down the outside of the cabinet, etc. If these steps are still too large, break them down further. There’s no shame in making this process one where you can be successful through lots of small actions.
What to Clear Out of Your HSP Life
Spring cleaning inevitably involves getting rid of things that are no longer needed, wanted, or helpful. As you take stock of how your life feels at this moment, what and who do you need to let go of to restore a sense of calm and order?
Here are some possibilities to consider, but don’t be afraid to add your own:
- Relationships that no longer bring you joy, fulfillment, support, and/or love
- Thinking patterns, stories, and mental scripts that you have outgrown
- Outdated habits, patterns of behavior, and traditions
- Emotional patterns, unresolved feelings, and unhealed wounds
- Behaviors that take away from your health (physical, mental/emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual)
- Aspects of your physical environment (your home, your street, your community) that bother you or no longer fit your desired lifestyle
- Educational and/or career activities that are not aligned with your goals
- Financial practices that destabilize your future
- Anything that takes away from or makes it harder to grow and develop as a human being
What to Bring into Your HSP Life
As you’re clearing out, pay attention to what you’d like to add to your life. When you’re literally cleaning your house, you might let in fresh air or add a bunch of fresh flowers to a newly tidied dining room. How can you bring light, freshness, comfort, and the right mix of the familiar and the novel into your life?
Some options you might consider, but not limit yourself to, include:
- New or renewed ways of taking care of your health (physical, mental/emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual)
- Fresh ways of thinking and acting
- Interpersonal connections, including new relationships, deeper intimacy within existing relationships, and stronger bonds to the larger community
- Starting new habits and traditions that better fit your life today
- Things that nurture your curiosity and sense of adventure
- Ways of bringing beauty and meaning to your surroundings
- Taking steps to improve your finances and your financial future
- Invigorated attention to activities that help you develop personally and/or professionally
Be Permissive, Not Demanding with How You Spring Clean Your HSP Life
As an HSP, you will likely accomplish more if you are gentle and permissive with yourself than if you are demanding and pressure yourself to get things done. Spring cleaning can be a time of opportunity if you choose to let go of the critical, harsh messages you give yourself and those you have gotten from other people. Do it your way. Enjoy the process as much as possible. Then sit back and savor your accomplishments. Wishing you a lovely spring!
How do I know if I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
This is a great question. Many people who are highly sensitive feel that they were not understood as children. They were frequently told they were too sensitive or cried too often. You can reference our list of HSP quizzes to see how you score and this can inform whether or not you are a Highly Sensitive Person.
Be sensitive, be free
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