Spring cleaning is no small undertaking, but the benefits last for months. Here are a few things you can do to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health this spring – with minimal elbow grease!
1. De-clutter your space. It’s hard to have a sound mind without a peaceful environment. If you tend to collect unnecessary items, take a day to get rid of them. Go through the house with two bags – one for garbage (or recycling!), and one for donation – it feels good to part with trash, and it also feels good to offer your unused items to a new home!
2. Use work as a workout. Spring is the time for mowing and planting (between rainstorms, of course). Use it to your advantage! Mowing the lawn burns up to 250-350 calories an hour, while gardening burns 200-400 an hour. Make extra trips to get your step count up, and opt for a push mower if it’s realistic. Just being outside is beneficial, too – soak up that sunshine and vitamin D!
3. Clear out your cupboards. You’re probably never going to eat that Rice-A-Roni with the “best by” date of 2004, so why let it take up space in your kitchen storage? Open up the fridge and pantry and get rid of expired foods, condiments, and leftovers. Then stock up on healthy staples! Rearrange food items so that healthier choices are more easily accessible when you’re hunting for a snack.
4. Anti-allergy your house. While there’s no magical way to stop the pollen, you can at least minimize the effects by removing common allergens from your house. Wash all blankets, linens, cushion covers, and anything else you can justify tossing in the washing machine. Vacuum rugs (especially entryway and bedroom rugs) and be sure to get under and behind furniture to eliminate dust. Wipe ceiling fan blades and window coverings with a damp cloth. Lastly, change the filters in your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling) system to avoid blowing allergens around the house.
5. Change your tech habits. Technology has an insidious way of cluttering our minds and creating unhealthy habits. Set aside some time to organize your email inbox, delete junk mail, and unsubscribe from mailing lists you don’t need. Try listening to music instead of zoning out to hours of television. Be conscious of your smartphone use and stay off of it for at least half an hour before bedtime.
6. Purge the medicine cabinet. Unused or expired medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription, shouldn’t be left in the home, especially if you have children or pets around. The safest way to get rid of medications is through the Take Back Your Meds Program, with five collection locations in the San Juans. If you’re in Friday Harbor, drop off at the Sheriff’s station or Friday Harbor Drug (FH Drug does not accept controlled substances). Read more here
7. Toss old makeup. We know that mascara was expensive, but makeup that’s past its prime can definitely do more harm than good. Expired makeup can harbor bacteria that could harm your eyes or skin – which is the opposite effect we’re going for when we use it. The general rule is to toss any cosmetics with a change in appearance, texture, or smell. Get new mascara every three months, eyeliner and eye shadow every six to twelve months, and lipstick every one and a half years.
8. Bring nature inside. Greenery in the home has been shown to boost mood, lower stress, and even reoxygenate the air in your house. Introduce some new potted plants or (allergies permitting) bring some color and joy into your home with a bouquet of spring flowers.
9. Freshen up your menu. The holidays are long over and that “winter coat” won’t be necessary soon. Check out the amazing offerings at the San Juan Island Farmers Market and bring home some seasonal produce for cooking or spring salads. Don’t be afraid to break out the grill on a sunny evening – it’s our favorite way to fit in lots and lots of veggies! Try bell peppers, zucchini, or portobello mushrooms for an easy and delicious dinner.