Spring is on its way, with lighter mornings and brighter skies, and daylight saving (when we turn the clocks forward one hour) beginning on Sunday, March 29 at 2am.
Around about now, thoughts turn to spring cleaning – especially as we are all spending a lot more time at home.
So with time on our hands and products in the cupboard, a spring clean is on the to-do list. But it’s about more than just sprucing up your home. It can help your mental health, too.
Psychologist Natasha Tiwari explains: "The visual distraction of mess and clutter, combined with the inner eye’s vision of a dirty environment, leads to a cognitive overload on the brain which will add up to anxiety and stress."
So if you’re wondering whether it’s time to get scrubbing the oven or vacuuming under the bed, here’s why it can help your mood.
It lowers the stress hormone cortisol
"When we can see how we’ve cleansed a space, this leads to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream, leading to an increased sense of calm and wellbeing," says Tiwari.
"This leads to better sleep, better relationships and even stronger immunity."
It’s all about energy flow
Energy therapist Dolores Andrew-Gavin says that we should see cleaning our homes as synonymous with cleaning our mindset.
"We can look at cleaning and de-cluttering as an act of cleaning both our environment and our mental and emotional body," says Dolores.
"Chances are, if we work from a cluttered room and can’t find anything we will feel overwhelmed and stuck because our energy can’t flow.
"When we actively clean and de-clutter it gives us more energy because it lifts stress from our body. If we add music and movement to our cleaning routine it makes it fun, it’s good for our physical health and we will release happy hormones. It’s an excellent stress buster."
Cleaning the bedroom will help with sleep and relaxation
The bedroom needs to be a place you can retreat to and find your inner calm. So get under the bed with that vacuum and dust down the dressing table and shelves.
"To create a room that helps you enjoy the best night’s sleep take a look at your space," says Robert Lancaster-Gaye, co-founder of linen specialists Tielle Love Luxury.
That means clean linen on the bed every seven days (especially if you’re spending your working day in the bedroom too!).
"Getting into the habit of making it each day can give you a sense of achievement. Clean, fresh-smelling sheets are a treat to relax the senses.," he adds.
"But they’re also vital to our health. During sleep, we perspire and body oils seep into our bedding. Change your linen once a week to keep sheets fresh and use protectors to extend the life of your mattress and pillows."
It’s more than a chore, it’s a ritual
Spiritual teacher Sarupa Shah says that just like cooking, cleaning is a ritual that gives us purpose and a distraction. That also means we can sometimes have a ‘eureka’ moment while doing it.
"The act of physical cleaning gives you respite from your emotions," she says. "It doesn’t resolve how you feel, but gives you a breather, so I recommend it to my clients a lot."
You could spark some joy
Anyone who’s heard of tidying guru Marie Kondo will know her catchphrase "spark joy". Her ethos is that if something doesn’t spark joy, it has to go.
This might be hard at the moment while you can’t take the things you don’t want to the dump or charity shop, but it’s a good benchmark for some tidying up. You might even find some joy in old ‘treasure’.