The University of Texas at Arlington

Staff Advisory Council

Mental Health: Spring Cleaning Your Mind

By Heather Earnhardt

 

“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go, they merely determine where you start."

 

— Nido Qubein

 

In the past two years, many of our lives have changed drastically, and therefore, we have had to reshape the way we think, behave, feel, and react to the circumstances around us. Mental health has become prominent in the news as a result.  Positive news helps us understand how vitally important it is to adapt and overcome any challenge thrown our way.

These challenges have also led to self-reflection as well as making physical changes to our personal lives to accommodate the changes of life. For example, when we purge the things in our lives that do not serve any positive purposes, it can be an incredibly freeing feeling. Spring cleaning those old newspapers, magazines, clothes we don’t wear, or other items can lead to realizing that there may be other items in our lives that could use a spring cleaning as well! Decluttering our brains can increase dopamine and serotonin levels in our brain in just the same way as physically removing unwanted items from our homes.

 

Take a moment below to review the checklist and learn more about how to deal with uncomfortable feelings and worries.

 


The Checklist


 

Here is a checklist to determine where or what areas of your life you can improve on:

  • How are you sleeping?
  • What are your energy levels like?
  • Do you have trouble relaxing or enjoying daily activities?
  • Check in with your emotions. Do you feel in control of them, or do they control you?
  • Are you worried about the future?

 


Healthy Suggestions


 

There is good news! Here are some healthy ways to deal with the uncomfortable feelings and worries that are commonly experienced. Applying some or all the following principles can create a major psychological boost in your overall well-being and help you accomplish tasks or goals you have for yourself or your family.

  1. Create a Healthy Workspace or Home Space (whether you are online or on the job site)
    • Have a clean and clear space that reflects a clear mind. Limit the amount of clutter and add personal objects or positive items that spark creativity or peaceful energy in the space.
  2. Let Go of Past Mistakes and Negative Thoughts
    • It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of yesterday’s mistakes, but it’s important to keep moving forward. Acknowledge mistakes and negative thoughts and allow yourself to feel the feelings. Sometimes avoidance can cause more psychological harm. Negative thoughts can be a protection response, but rather than push them away, it’s important to accept them for what they are and release them. Allowing yourself to process and feel them gives these harsh feelings less power over you.
  3. Tackle Projects You Have Put Off
    • Make a list of projects you want to get done and order them numerically by order of importance, or however you find works for you in accomplishing the tasks. It’s okay to take breaks while working on the tasks but stick to each one with a purpose, and your plate will get lighter and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Proper Nutrition, Exercise, and Sleep
    • Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are considered the golden triangle of health. When one is lacking, then the entire system suffers. Start setting up a routine that includes 30 minutes of some form of exercise, whether it is walking, playing with your children or pets, or going to the gym. Even if you split it between 15 minutes twice a day, it can positively impact your mental health because of the good hormones called dopamine. Eating the right things also gives your body the proper amount of nutrients to boost energy and self-confidence. Finally, sleep is vital to making a positive impact on mental health. It helps us learn, improves immunity, eliminates toxins, and encourages healing. Winding down with a solid nighttime routine can be extremely beneficial.
  5. Make Gratitude a Priority
    • Gratitude helps us to recognize the positive aspects of our lives. Write a list of 3-5 things you are grateful for each day. Post it up in a space you go to every day and over time it will create positive habits that encourage growth mentally and emotionally.
    • It may seem daunting at first to tackle some of the suggestions but working on one area at a time will eventually lead to an overall healthy routine for day-to-day life. Our mental health is crucial to our success in all areas of our lives.