Mental health spring cleaning: Eleven ways to start the New Year right

Ending the year strong does not imply that you achieved all of your resolutions for the year.

It means appreciating your progress throughout the year – reflecting on what worked for you, what didn’t, and the setbacks.

As Bruce Lee once said: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own”.

An important task that cannot be missed while spring cleaning is the decluttering of old items.

This exercise symbolises getting rid of old negative energy, and inviting good luck for the coming new year.

Just as our external surroundings can benefit from some spring cleaning, so too, can our internal environments.

As we approach 2024, consider these strategies to declutter your mind and promote better mental health.

1. Reflect on the past year

Let’s start by thinking back on the previous year. Acknowledge your successes, as well as your shortcomings.

You can get new perspectives, draw lessons from past mistakes, and create the conditions for constructive change.

2. Declutter your life

Get rid of toxic relationships, and declutter your mind of negative emotions, like guilt and shame. Set boundaries, leaving no room for anything or anyone that can slow you down in life.

A cluttered environment can lead to a cluttered mind. Take the time to declutter and organise your physical space. Donate items you no longer need, creating a more peaceful and ordered living or working area.

3. Mindful meditation

Include mindfulness meditation in your daily routine. This technique promotes stress reduction, living in the present moment, and fosters clarity.

For new users, mobile applications such as Headspace or Calm can be very helpful resources.

4. Forgive yourself and others

Constantly attributing our present situation to something that happened in the past can end up trapping us in a victim mode. Our forgiveness or the lack of it will not impact the life of the person who wronged us.

We can be holding on to our anger and hurt, while the other person may be living a happy life, instead. By embracing forgiveness, we can also embrace peace of mind and hope, and take control of our lives.

It is normal to wish that things could have been different, or that you had done something to avoid the hurt, but there is nothing you can do about the past. Instead, focus on the future.

5. Digital detox

Our continual reliance on technology may be a factor in brain congestion. Limit your screen time and think about going on a digital detox, especially right before bed. This break can help you sleep better and give your mind a much-needed refresh.

6. Set realistic goals

Create doable goals for the upcoming year. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks. This approach not only helps you stay focused, but also boosts your sense of accomplishment.

7. Connect with others

Developing stronger social ties is essential for mental health. Make time to spend with friends and family, get involved in a community group, or reach out to them. Human connection can provide support and a sense of belonging.

8. Embrace positive habits

Throw away all your bad habits and look into cultivating new positive habits that contribute to your mental health. This might include regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Small changes in these areas can have a profound impact on your overall wellbeing.

9. Learn to say ‘No’

Over-commitment can cause stress and exhaustion. Learn to say “no” when needed and focus on self-care. Establishing boundaries helps safeguard your mental health and allows you to concentrate on what’s important.

10. Express gratitude

Take a few minutes each day to thank yourself for the good things in your life. Whether it’s through writing in your diary or just taking a few moments to reflect on what’s going on in your life, it’s a great way to shift your attitude and create a more positive outlook.

11. Seek professional support

If you find it challenging to manage your mental health on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists, counsellors, or support groups can provide valuable guidance and support.

You are where you are today because of what you’ve learnt, or didn’t learn, in the past year.

With the addition of these spring-cleaning techniques, as you prepare for your journey to a fresh new year, you can put yourself in a better and more positive frame of mind.

Keep in mind that, just as physical space benefits from periodic cleansings, so does our mental space.

It’s time to reset. Rest, and get refreshed for the start of a brand New Year.

Faith Foo is director of ABRI Integrated Mental Health. She is a registered and licensed counsellor, a certified eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapist and a certified coaching and mentoring professional.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.