What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the phrase “spring cleaning”? Do you have to donate the clothes you promised yourself to wear, but always miss out on when looking for an outfit? Are the triton takeout boxes piling up because the machine always seems to be down when you need it? When I usually think about this idea of getting rid of the old to make way for the new, my mind mostly turns to the physical act of decluttering. One thing I’ve noticed through all of this is that most spring cleanings focus on this spiritual self-cleansing for a new cycle – whether it’s New Years, Passover, or whatever. So the question I guess I should be asking is why are we only focusing on decluttering our space?
That’s not to say decluttering isn’t important. Personally, I find that when my space is clean, I am calm. However, we are entering our fourth week of the Spring 2022 term, and for my part, I can already see my space reflecting my spirit. Clothes that aren’t dirty but aren’t clean tucked away in a corner, my once-empty desk filled with papers, missing files, and a few bottles of water that badly need washing. I always see these Instagram posts about spring cleaning, and I confess that my first thought about this phenomenon is to make your space nice and neat. But looking at all these physical and material objects piling up in a giant mess, I notice that I equate my sanity to what I can see, not what I can feel. Spring cleaning should go beyond your space, and at 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’s an important part of that equation. As we’re in our spring term and counting down the weeks until summer vacation, I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering what I should do with all the things I learned in course of the last six months. The quarter system is coming back really fast, so to help minimize the stress of packing, donating, and selling, I aim to pack part of my room every Saturday. Last weekend, I packed up my printer and my extra monitor that I keep on my desk, and I also gathered everything I would like to sell. Next weekend my goal is to take pictures of everything I put in the sales pile and, since I have an apartment, put away all the kitchen utensils that I don’t expect to use in the next six coming weeks approx. In addition to selling, there are many resources for giving. My friend informed me that places like Goodwill and Salvation Army will pick up boxes of items you want to give away for free! I didn’t know that was an option, but it can be a great resource if you don’t have the ability to travel off campus to donate!
Declutter your mind
I recently listened to a talk by Garry Ridge, and one thing he said really stuck with me. He said: “Stress is the feeling of not having the resources to achieve a goal.” Whether that resource is time, money, or space, we begin to say that we don’t have some of these elements, which when it comes to monetary needs can be very true. I want to focus on refreshing my way of approaching problems and letting my mind be at its best as much as possible. Here are some ideas that come to mind when I think about decluttering my mind: reassessing relationships, time management skills, and taking breaks.
College is where you meet a lot of old acquaintances and friends, and maybe even more, but it also means meeting new people who are toxic or don’t match who you are as a person. than anyone. It’s good to recognize it! Really think about whether your relationships benefit you, analyze where you could be causing problems in relationships and make plans with people who feel good. Surrounding yourself with people you connect with is one of the best ways to relax, which ultimately leads to a better mind.
Now, I know that the quarter system leaves very little room for breaks, but there are still is room. Whether it’s early in the morning, late at night or between classes, take the time to adapt. We’re going through some uncertain times right now, and this term is the first in two years that’s 100% in-person! It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and have low social energy. Now is the time to rekindle the hobbies that take you away from the hectic world of academia. For me, it’s about taking a book “for fun” with me wherever I go and wearing noise canceling headphones so I don’t get too stimulated by all the noisy atmospheres. I also try to make it a goal to not use my phone in the morning for at least the first twenty minutes while my eyes adjust to the room and my body accepts that it’s time to get ready.
Finally, we’ve laid the groundwork for what every student needs but might not have: time management skills. Oh, the horror! How could we manage our time when our university does not warn us of anything? (That was an exaggeration…maybe). My time management skills rely solely on motivation and reward. I also follow the block method that I found somewhere on YouTube a while back, which is basically mapping out productivity blocks and breaks. At the end of your productivity block, which can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour – and you really shouldn’t go over an hour, because that’s when our productivity drops – it doesn’t matter if you’ve finished your work or not, you write down bullet points of your thought process and then put it away. My reward during my break could be completing part of a course in Mario Nintendo 64, or the final episode of a show – something that gives a definite ending. The days seem shorter with everything in person, but it’s all about balance.
Declutter your body
Now, this is where I think most of us have trouble. With all this in-person feedback, it definitely ruined the healthy schedule I had established when we were remote. Instead of twenty minutes of morning stretching and a homemade breakfast, my waking period coincides with my prep period, with about fifteen minutes to wake up. Sleep in general has decreased, and I’m lucky if I sleep at midnight to be able to sleep around seven hours. But sleep is very important – yes, the boring phrase that is much easier said than done, especially as a student. I’m not saying you should go to bed at 10 p.m. every night, but most professionals say the best kind of sleep is ordinary sleep. This means going to bed at around the same time every day. Whether that means going to bed at 3 a.m. and waking up at 10 a.m. or going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m., you should fall asleep and wake up at a constant time. It helps with concentration, mood regulation, and overall you 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 we’re too stimulated. Although a fitness program is different depending on who you talk to, movement is medicine! (I saw it once on a billboard and now my dad always quotes it.) Being able to move in a way that suits you and your bodily needs can help you calm down late. I notice that even though my movement is just stretching and then walking for twenty minutes at a stretch – which we already have to do as students – I can go to bed much easier and have a deeper rest . It also helps declutter your mind, especially if you suffer from mental illnesses. My ADHD and my anxiety are much more manageable when I can release some of that nervous energy.
To end this wellness triangle, the food we put in our bodies dictates our energy levels and our mood. Have you ever felt the irresistible urge to eat a fruit? Or down a green smoothie? Eating 2-3 meals a day is usually best, but of course do what you and/or the professionals have said is best for you, no matter what that looks like. Nothing is bad for you in proportion. Eating a portion of takis – which no, is not the whole bag – is perfectly fine! I use the LoseIt app mainly because it has a lot of food from the UC San Diego dining hall so I can make sure I’m pretty much up to what I 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 this article gave you a different perspective on what it means to clean for spring as much as it did for me while I was researching the topic! Again, these are just suggestions and ultimately you know what works best for you. I’m so glad to be fully back in person, even if it’s only for ten short weeks of the entire school year. Now, if only this weather matched the season, maybe we could take advantage of the twenty-minute walks to class!