March 20 was the first day of spring, which means gorgeous weather, March Madness, and, of course, spring cleaning. If, like me, you don’t have time for a complete spring cleaning, let’s simplify things. I challenge everyone to clean one thing out of your closet, one thing out of your diet and one thing out of your schedule.
I absolutely love to purge my home of things that I do not use. I cannot explain how satisfying it is to me to take bags or boxes of clothes, books, or even dishware and donate them to charity. When I return home, I often have the sensation that my home is cleaner, even though I did not get out the vacuum cleaner or toilet brush.
Purging my closet can be a challenge because I tend to hold on to to clothing for a long time. I usually have to remind myself that the sweater that I loved in college is no longer in style 22 years later. And someone will pay a couple of dollars for it and get a lot more use out of it than I will. Knowing it can help someone else makes it easier for me to let go of it. If you do not have the time to clean out an entire closet, walk into the closet and choose one thing that you do not wear or use and give it to someone who will.
This is the time of year that people start to think about doing a dietary cleanse. Some cleanses can be intense, restrictive and difficult to follow. The right cleanse protocol can provide huge health benefits and I do recommend them. If anyone is interested in doing one, please consult with your physician first.
But you can make small changes and still get big results. I challenge people to clean one thing out of their diet. It may be replacing a morning bagel or donut with a protein shake. Give up soda, whether regular or diet, and replace it with iced green tea or water. For people who are addicted to carbonated beverages, try replacing it with a Stevia sweetened carbonated drink. For me, it is coffee. I tend to get addicted to it during the colder winter months and I don’t need it. So I am cleaning coffee out of my diet. It is a small but important step that can have a huge impact on my health.
The last challenge may be the toughest one to enforce. This reminds me of a great quote by Henry Kissinger:
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
We are an overscheduled, high stress society. I talk to my patients all the time about everything that is going on in their lives and how it is affecting their health. Ironically, the first thing that people remove from their schedule is the last thing I want removed – exercise. People tend to put themselves last and exercise is one way in which we take care of ourselves. It also happens to be the best stress buster on the planet. I tell people to put it on their schedule to make sure that it gets done.
Take a look at your week. What one thing can you remove? By removing it, that doesn’t mean that you give it up. That can mean that you assign it to someone else. Some household chores or yard work can be assigned to your children. You can order groceries online and have them delivered to your house. This is a brilliant move because it helps us avoid “impulse purchases” that tend to be unhealthy. You may want to give up your weekly “How to Dip Anything in Chocolate” class. Giving that up will meet challenge #2 and 3 in one clean sweep!
Henry Kissinger’s quote really resonates with me because I am busy setting up my new practice right now. But spring is the time of new birth and growth! So I am sitting down with my schedule and looking at how I utilize my time. After I clean out my closet, and remove “stop at Starbucks” from my schedule, I will be ready for spring!