• Who doesn't love a spring clean? It can feel great to get organised and make space for the warmer seasons

  • But what about your inner life, asks Richard Templar – are there things you could clear out?

  • We have therapists and counsellors available to support you here

It’s traditional to freshen up your house in the spring, to jettison the old and tired, to clean and tidy, to put away the winter things and dig out your summer kit. It’s a healthy, invigorating and positive activity. So why restrict it to your home? Why not spring clean your mental health too? 

Here are a few ideas for ways you can do that, and bring the same stimulating sense of optimism to your inner life.

Clear out the bad habits

It’s easy to slip into unhelpful patterns, and spring is a good time to think about what those are (some of them you’ll know perfectly well if you’re honest). These might be to do with your physical health – it’s easy to cut back on exercise in the winter, or to get into unhealthy eating habits. 

Be straight with yourself about these because the invigorating nature of spring time makes this a great opportunity to change any habits you don’t like. Not only is this obviously great for you physically, but you’ll feel better in every way for successfully re-boosting your health.

Be self-aware about the best way to achieve these changes. Can you motivate yourself to get outside more without help, or would it be better to enlist a friend to book in a regular walk/cycle/run with? Would the eating patterns be easier to change if you went vegetarian for a month, or ate at a different time, or used a petrol station where you can pay at the pump and avoid going inside where all those tempting snacks are?

Declutter your head

There are lots of things that make it difficult to think clearly, and many of them are about having too much going on in your head. So any strategies that free up thinking space are helpful. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll feel freer and more able to cope. Here are a few ideas to help you:

  • For many of us, being surrounded by physical clutter makes it hard to think straight. If this is you, spring is a great time to clear out the wardrobe, the shed, the cupboard, the home office... Just tackle one thing at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. The process is really cathartic as well as giving you clear tidy space to work/cook/dress.
  • Write things down. This is a great strategy for getting things out of your head without losing them. To-do lists, plans, budgets: all the things cluttering your head can be transferred to paper where you can still access them and they won’t cloud your thinking.
  • Plan ahead. If you know you want to go on holiday in the summer, or organise your son’s 18th party, or revamp the kitchen, start planning now. There’s plenty of time so no need to feel stressed. You can choose how much you actually buy or book right now, and how much detail you go into, but getting ahead of yourself is a great feeling, and will pay off again once the date gets closer and your work is half done already.

Deal with your demons

Address the things you’ve been putting off. Yes, we all do it, and we all know perfectly well what those things are. Tackling a family member about the fact they’re not pulling their weight, starting to look for a new job, getting to grips with the family finances. All the time you’re not dealing with these things, they’re still hanging over you, adding pressure, filling up your head. They’re not going to go away so get it done. You’ll feel so much lighter.

The same goes for any mental health distress that needs a focused effort to resolve. If you’re prone to anxiety, stress, anger, low moods or anything else that is getting in the way of enjoying your life fully, take time to acknowledge consciously what the problem is and find ways to alleviate it. This might be anything from researching a couple of strategies that will make a difference, to getting a diagnosis or finding a therapist. The important thing is to acknowledge it to yourself, stop trying to ignore it, and start doing something about it.

Freshen up your spiritual life

Have you got bogged down in the day-to-day over the winter, failing to look up and see the big picture? Lots of us fall into this trap so spring can be a great time to think about spirituality. Whether you belong to an organised religion, are pagan, atheist, humanist or anything else, some kind of connection with the spiritual can put our own lives in perspective and bring a sense of peace.

So refresh your relationship with this side of yourself. That might mean attending a different form of worship, or spending more time in nature, or creating your own daily ritual to focus on the things that you’ve appreciated that day. It’s hugely personal and can be whatever you want, so long as it brings you a feeling of calm, and a sense of your place in the grand scheme.

Richard Templar is the author of the The Rules of Thinking and The Rules of Living Well 

Further reading

My 6-step plan to finally become a morning person

6 habits to thrive in life and work

How to stick to a daily mindfulness practice

My therapist told me I didn't know myself – they were right

Recognise the good people in your life, and keep them close