Make Spring a Time of Personal Renewal

Spring — at least in places with relatively well-defined seasons — is a time of renewal. In the northern climates, crocuses and daffodils are already popping up, the trees are budding, and birds are chirping. Warm weather won’t be far behind.

As nature wakes from its winter slumber, people often start to emerge from their hibernation. That may mean socializing more, exercising outdoors or launching a new project. Whatever one’s rebirth engenders, it’s a welcome respite from the cold, gray days of winter.

“What better time than spring to regroup and reprioritize, and even reinvent ourselves and the lives we find ourselves living?” asks Abigail Brenner, M.D., in a Psychology Today article. Leading her seven suggested personal “rituals” to start a spring renewal? #Decluttering.

First, declutter your living space, sorting out any clothing that you haven’t worn in more than two years and #donating it ( can help). Follow up by getting rid of any pantry items and medications that have expired.

Next (and perhaps more importantly), clear your mental and emotional clutter. Shed the practices and habits that sap your energy. Let go of the past, commit to decisions you’ve been putting off, challenge limiting beliefs, and think positively. Progress is the goal, not perfection.

Try something new, and take advantage of the weather to do something outdoors. Try to #streamline and #renew your life to improve its overall quality. What are your priorities? Focus on what you value the most and structure your time around it.

Once your living environment and psyche are clear, you’ll be more relaxed — there’s just “less noise” in your brain, Mayo Clinic psychologist Craig Sawchuk told CNN Health. And the altruism engendered in donating goods “psychologically can have a really good impact.”

So this season, take a hint from nature: Take the initiative to renew your surroundings and your outlook. You’ll feel better and more refreshed every step of the way.

What Would Marie Kondo Do?

Since the beginning of the year, Netflix’ hit show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo has inspired people all over the county to weed through — and get rid of — a lot of excess stuff. And we at the Organizing Blog couldn’t applaud more!

New converts to the KonMari Method — Kondo’s Shinto-inspired organizing system that recommends getting rid of anything that doesn’t add value to one’s life — are filling thrift and secondhand stores with their castoffs.

Just 35 years old, Kondo has been an organizing maven since she was 19. In 2011, she published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, her seminal tome on the topic, in which she famously advises people to keep only the things that “inspire joy.”

That may mean different things to different people, she admits — and it could be a considerable amount if, say, you collect sneakers or maintain a library of books. At your own personal “click-point,” however, you will feel at ease with the things you have.

“The tidying process is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors,” she says. “You are about to tidy up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.”

Kondo offers six steps to follow in creating a more serene, decluttered life, asking the new acolyte to envision his or her ideal lifestyle and describe it in words or pictures. Once that streamlined, tidy new lifestyle is clear, the decluttering can begin.

The KonMari Method’s strategy differs from most by asking you to “Tidy by category, not location.” That means whatever kind of item it is — clothing, books, shoes, sporting goods — you must put everything in a big pile and sort it in a single session.

Kondo tells you to pick up each item in that pile and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it does, it can eventually be filed in a neatly-stacked drawer, shelf or closet. If not, it goes into the “donate” or “trash” pile. The strategy can be jarring, but cathartic.

“If done correctly, it’s incredibly liberating,” says Today Show blogger Meena Hart Duerson. “The joy I felt when I picked up my favorite jeans became a barometer. Suddenly, I wanted everything in my closet to make me feel like that.”

Give the KonMari Method a try. While it’s kind of the nuclear option in decluttering, its many converts swear by the difference they see in their spaces, lifestyles and moods. Just remember to contact to pick up that extra stuff!

Mayday! The Clutter Must Go

In medieval times, May Day began as a celebration of the return of spring. People would weave floral garlands, crown a local May king and queen, and decorate and dance around a May tree or maypole to ensure fertility for their crops. In the late 1800s, though, May Day became associated with the labor movement. Workers’ rights groups designated May 1 as a holiday to commemorate Chicago’s Haymarket Riot.

In these relatively prosperous times, you may instead recall the old distress signal, “Mayday, Mayday!” This expression, it turns out, has nothing to do with the May 1; it is borrowed from the French “m’aidé,” or “Help me.” And people who have too much stuff know all too well the helpless feelings it can produce.

Psychology Today says that physical clutter — which it defines as more knickknacks, paperwork and other junk than can comfortably fit into the space — can have an adverse effect on a person’s ability to move and think. Multiple studies say that streamlining one’s space can reduce stress and improve one’s life satisfaction, physical health and cognitive capabilities.

Physical clutter (and now, digital clutter such as email) competes for your attention, LifeHacker says; it takes away from the tasks at hand and robs people of creativity. In order to think effectively, you must eliminate it. Unfortunately, getting rid of stuff that has emotional value produces a pain response in the brain. It may actually be easier to apply constraints to the things you bring into the home than get rid of the things that are already there.

In addition to increasing stress, clutter can affect your diet, produce respiratory distress, harm relationships, encourage poor spending habits and bring on a host of other problems, the Huffington Post says. And when you have boxes of extra stuff stacked in your bedrooms, overflowing closets and stacks of dusty papers in your office, clutter has reached a crisis level. You need help! (M’aidé!)

Take a deep breath. Designate a place in your home where you can stage a major decluttering (perhaps the garage, where you can also stage a sale). Set up boxes and bags for the stuff you’re going to keep, trash, and sell or donate. Schedule a donation pickup with and start sorting. Decluttering will get easier — and once you start, you’ll feel better in so many ways that you may make it a habit.