By Alaya Ayala
Spring-Cleaning My Life
Just Another Article About Self-Care
By ALAYA AYALA
With the weather beginning to warm up and the sun beginning to set later I, like many people, have really begun to notice a change in how motivated I am to take care of myself. Suddenly, I want to scrub down my dorm room every day. I want to make my bed in the morning, I want to wake up early. I’m even motivated to go to breakfast. These are not things I could do over the winter, by any means. The constant darkness and the cold got me down to the point where the only thing I wanted to do was sleep through lecture and re-watch an entire season of Gossip Girl. There was this feeling I got sometimes, where it felt like I literally couldn’t get out of the bed, off of the chair, away from the screen. It felt like if I put away the comfortable and distracting thing, something bad would happen to me. If I don’t procrastinate until the last minute, I had to spend time thinking, stressing, worrying over every little detail. I wanted to go to class, I wanted to be more responsible, and I wanted it to happen fast, but I was so drained all the time that I just couldn’t make changes. It wasn’t a good point in my life, to say the very least.
But that feeling is gone now. I like to blame it on the weather, or even the knowledge that the semester will soon be over. Regardless of why it is, I’m glad it’s happening. I’m happy to be spring cleaning my life, I guess.
So, here are some unsolicited tips for Spring Cleaning your own life; they have worked pretty well for me so far.
1.Throw out the trash
A huge part of cleaning out anything, be it your room or your stressed-out brain, is throwing out all the unnecessary stuff. For me, this involved a lot of sitting down and decluttering my workspaces. And by workspaces, I mean my bed, my desk, my backpack, and my wallet. I had so many reminders for things I knew I was never going to do sitting around in these places that it wasn’t healthy. Think advertisements for classes at the MAC. While I had told myself earlier that I’d get around to doing these things eventually, the reality was that I never would, and looking at the reminders would only make me feel worse. So, I tossed them. But those aren’t the only things I got rid of.
I also did my best to toss out my emotional trash. This was maybe a few weeks ago, but I realized that I have a really awful habit of making self-deprecating statements about myself and saying sorry all the time for things that weren’t my fault. Those thoughts, those behaviors, were something that I’m realizing are really just a lot of emotional trash. I make an effort to catch myself whenever I’m going to do those things now, and I asked the people who care about me to help point it out if they noticed it. Getting rid of these damaging habits has really started to help. I don’t complain about myself and things I can’t change as much.
2. Organize the clutter
Getting rid of the bad stuff is great, but that wasn’t enough for me. I still had a lot of crap to organize, both in my workspaces and in the other parts of my life. Re-organizing my notebooks, restructuring my file folders on my computer, and creating new routines in my life were necessary for me. My creative writing folder on my computer was a terrible mess for a really long time this winter, and it stressed me out for many reasons. I needed a portfolio to apply for jobs, but I didn’t even know what pieces of my writing were finished or not. It was hellish to sort through, but I felt incredible after. That feeling doesn’t even compare to how nice it felt to reorganize my routines. Doing things like starting to track my meals so that I was more aware of what was going into my body, forcing myself to take the long way back to my dorm, and waking up at a certain time every morning have really created a sense of lightness, as if I don’t have to feel guilty about not taking care of myself anymore.
3. Decorate, you earned it
Seriously, do this. Treat yourself, make things look nice in the spaces you habitually occupy. I did this by buying myself a poster that I really love, and also by reminding myself that not all of the self-care that I engaged in over the winter was bad. It’s okay for me to sit and watch a movie if I want to. It’s okay to eat candy every once in a while after spending a few days eating vegetables for every snack. When decluttering your life, you don’t have to deny yourself the things you like, even if they’re unproductive. It’s still good to take care of yourself.
So that’s what I’ve done, and what I hope to start doing every time I notice my life getting cluttered and stressful. I hope it inspires someone reading this to take steps to do what they think will make their life better, too.
Alaya Ayala (firstname.lastname@example.org) is not a total neat freak, but she does like things to be generally neat-ish.