Spring-clean your life — 20 ways


Spring-clean your life! 20 ways to discard the emotional baggage that’s holding you back

From creating a proper support network to practising saying no, experts suggest their best tips for a healthier, happier life

Lizzie CernikMon 10 Apr 2023 05.00 EDT

Learn something new

Life changes can make us feel unsettled, taking away our ability to focus. Starting a new hobby or class is a great way to develop a renewed sense of purpose, leaving more space for creativity in our lives. Whether it’s learning a new language or trying a different sport, it really helps to take you away from that “mind clutter” you don’t want.
Sally Potter, women’s wellness leader and hypnotherapist, alofthypnotherapy.com

Write a journal – but take your time

Most people won’t find the time to write in a journal for an hour every day, especially when it’s new to them. But you can still get a lot out of the process by doing it for just five minutes each day, until it becomes part of your normal routine. It’s also worth using a habit tracker app or speaking to a friend to hold you accountable.
Emily Button, life coach, emilybuttoncoaching.com

Volunteer for a good cause

It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts and daily stresses. Try making time to volunteer for a charity or cause you feel passionate about, and document your journey. By comparing your thoughts and feelings with your usual daily experiences, it will help you to gain perspective, declutter your mind and open you up to new opportunities.
Dr Patapia Tzotzoli, psychologist, patapiatzotzoli.com

Practise saying no

People-pleasing often comes from a place of wanting to be accepted by others. Learning to say no and put healthy boundaries in place is essential, whatever the person’s reaction. Remind yourself that you can cope with the disappointment of others, so that you only take on tasks you can comfortably accommodate in your life.
Laura Greenwood, psychotherapist and maternal mental health coach, lauragreenwoodtherapy.com

Do a digital cleanse

Just because you’ve been a long-time follower of a social media account, it doesn’t mean it’s serving your wellbeing. Spring-clean your feed by unfollowing accounts that make you feel jealous, resentful or unhappy, and try to focus on the accounts you do feel a connection with. “Hate scrolling” might provide a short-term distraction, but it can also be a barrier to engagement, meaning and building genuine connections on and offline.
Dr Charlotte Russell, clinical psychologist, thetravelpsychologist.co.uk/

Ditch self-love for self-compassion

Instagram might encourage self-love, but certain actions – such as ghosting someone or skipping an event you don’t fancy – can appear selfish or hurtful. Self-compassion is about accepting yourself as you are, including your flaws, rather than putting yourself first at all times. Practising self-compassion and kindness can lead to more resilience, better relationships and higher levels of compassion and emotional availability for others.
Lara Cullen, life coach, thepeopleperson.org

Adopt the four Ds of time management

When it feels like life is running away from you, regain control by “doing, deferring, delegating and deleting”. Get your small tasks done quickly, delay anything that doesn’t need to be done right away, hand over to others where possible and scratch any extra tasks that don’t really need to be done at all.
Mandy Taylor, life coach, mandytaylorcoaching.com

Meal-prep at weekends

During the week it can be hard to create healthy meals that sustain us, especially when things are busy at home or work. Try making big batches of soups and casseroles while you’re watching a film at the weekend. Having homemade ready meals in your freezer for those stressful moments will allow you to focus your time on other important tasks.
Helen Pamely, psychotherapist, helenpamely.com

Make space for new clothes that better reflect the person you are today.
Make space for new clothes that better reflect the person you are today. Illustration: Adam Higton/The Guardian

Detox your wardrobe, not your body

As life gets busier and we grow older, our bodies often change shape. Rather than hanging on to old clothes “just in case you lose weight”, choose to appreciate and accept the body you have right now. Forget the crash diet, just pack up the clothes that no longer fit and drop them at your favourite charity shop or give them away to someone you love. You’ll also be making space for new things that better reflect the person you are today.
Lisa Talbot, personal stylist, lisatalbot.co.uk

Break your procrastination habits

Spring-clean that start/stop mentality by spotting your procrastination behaviours and challenging them every day. For example, when you find yourself saying “I’ll just watch this before I start,” make a conscious decision to stop in your tracks before you get distracted. Simply by saying “I choose to do this,” you’ll be helping your brain to overcome the procrastination trap.
Clare Flaxen, psychotherapist and founder of CF Mindset, clareflaxen.com

Focus on what you can control

If you’re feeling worried or anxious about something, it’s easy for your mind to become quickly overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Take a sheet of paper and draw three columns. In the first one write down all the things about your situation that you can control, in the second write down the things you can influence and in the third add the aspects that are out of your control. When you’re building a plan, look only at the first column, so that you’re focusing on what you have the power to change.
Nicola Rae-Wickham, life and careers coach, alifemoreinspired.com

Buy an alarm clock

Prevent bedtime distractions and “doom scrolling” by investing in an old-fashioned alarm clock for your bedroom. If your phone is charging elsewhere in the house, you won’t be tempted to look at work emails or mindlessly watch TikTok at 1am, when you should be resting. It will also prevent you from feeling wired at night, leading to less overwhelm during the day.
Suzy Glaskie, health coach, peppermintwellness.co.uk

Practise gratitude every day

As humans, we are programmed towards negative thinking and generally need five positive thoughts to counteract one negative one. Start each morning by thinking of five things you’re grateful for, such as a warm bed or a nice message from a friend. Do the same in the evenings just before you go to sleep.
Anna Badcock, coach, avitacoaching.com

Monitor your triggers

When we feel upset or hurt by something someone says, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at what we’re holding on to and let it go. If you notice yourself being triggered, write down the beliefs you have about yourself in that moment, as well as your thoughts about the situation and the other person. The more familiar you get with your own baggage and triggers, the less power they will have over you.
Chris Finn, performance coach, chris-finn.com

Write down and reflect on the habits and beliefs that don’t serve you well.
Write down and reflect on the habits and beliefs that don’t serve you well. Illustration: Adam Higton/The Guardian

Keep a thought diary

Over time we develop habits and beliefs that don’t serve us well. If you’re not getting the results you want or you are repeating the same patterns, try keeping a thought diary. This will help you to reflect on some of the situations that are causing you anxiety or unhappiness, reflect on them and examine changes you might be able to make.
Merrisha Gordon, life and leadership coach, merrishagordoncoaching.com

Make a decluttering plan

Mess can affect your mood, but it’s not always easy to get rid of things or know where to begin. Start by identifying your cluttered hotspots and visualising how you’d like them to look. Break it down into small areas, taking “before” photos so you can monitor your progress. Once you get going, put everything into designated bags for recycling, rubbish, selling and donating.
Britta Ofori-Kuragu, parenting and wellbeing practitioner, betterbeingbybritta.com

Rate your stress

It’s easy to sleepwalk into a state of overwhelm when you’re working on autopilot. Write down everything you’re dealing with and rate the anxiety it’s causing you from one to 10. Then work down the list from lowest to highest, putting in place a plan for each situation. Breaking things down into small steps always makes them easier to deal with.
Kathryn Dunn, cognitive behavioural therapistintuitivehypnotherapy.uk

Make a record of your work achievements

Sometimes it can be hard to recognise our own successes, especially in a fast-paced workplace. Making a record of your achievements on a regular basis will boost your confidence in the short-term and give the starting blocks you need to negotiate a promotion or pay rise next time the opportunity comes up.
Laurie Macpherson, career mentor, lauriemacpherson.com

Do an energy audit

What we think of as baggage can often be a habit, situation or environment that is draining us. An energy audit is a simple exercise that helps you to identify the things that are affecting your life. On a page, list your “drainers” and “energisers” for people, environments, mindsets, habits and things. Once you’re done, you can commit to making tiny adjustments in all the areas you identify.
Manuel Giudice, coach, manuelgiudice.com

Build a list of your support network

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to know where to turn. By creating a “go-to” list of people for every situation, you’ll always have the support you need on hand. For example, you can include people who are good at practical help or giving advice, as well as friends who are great listeners and will give you the space you need to talk about your feelings.
Katy Georgiou, psychotherapist and author, kgcounsellor.com

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