Spring officially began last Sunday, on March 20th. Are you feeling it?
Gradually warming temperatures, birdsong, budding plants, and other changes let us know that the seasons are changing.
Most of us sense a shift within, as well. We may feel a little more energy, a desire to get up earlier, or a craving more fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer heavier foods.
We may also feel something a little more spiritual; a longing for time to reflect, or for some quiet time. We may find ourselves looking for a new hairstyle or wardrobe to reflect the changes we feel inside. Something else is crying out to emerge, but we’re not sure how to go about opening the door.
No matter where we are in our lives, the desire for renewal and restoration is perfectly natural. We go through our own transformations and if we’re wise, we listen to that quiet voice inside us encouraging change.
Too often, though, we allow our busy schedules to blot out our inner yearning for something different, something new. This year, as spring graces us with the sense that we can start again, I encourage you to make self-renewal a priority. Give yourself that time you need to center your being and look within for the guidance that is always there. Once you’ve heard its message, take action for the betterment of yourself and the world around you.
Tips to Encourage Renewal
We have seven steps to help you refresh, regroup, and restore your body, mind, and spirit. If you can commit to these activities, you’ll likely emerge this spring with a renewed sense of yourself, your purpose, and where you’re going in life.
And that will put a definite spring in your step.
1. Clear it out.
You know you want to. Spring cleaning! We feel it as the temperatures rise. Suddenly all that stuff seems like way too much.
Give in to your inclinations. Spend a weekend clearing the clutter out of your home. Get rid of anything you no longer need. The general rule is that if you haven’t used it in one-to-two years, it’s fair game for the donation bin or the trash can.
Did you know that studies show clutter makes you feel stressed and reduces your ability to think creatively? A 2011 study, for instance, reported that when one’s environment is cluttered the chaos restricts your ability to focus and process information.
2. Clean out the mental closet.
Okay, you’ve got all the excess physical stuff out, but what about the mental and emotional stuff?
Our past hurts, resentments, guilts, and more can all weigh us down, making it difficult to fully step into a new, refreshed self. Mental clutter can be more difficult to identify than physical clutter, though. Here are some tips to help:
- Keep a diary for a week. Jot down every disturbing or negative thought you have. At the end of the week, combine those thoughts that are in the same category. For example, any thoughts relating to a past relationship-group them together. Thoughts related to your body and your negative feelings about it-group them together.
- Write your “categories” down. Title each of the groups that you created in step one, and write them down on a separate piece of paper.
- Make a plan of action. Decide how you will tackle each issue so you can clear it out of your head. Forgive that friend who hurt you. End those relationships that aren’t serving you. Burn the pictures and letters if you have to. Get rid of the mementos that remind you of the negative time, or place them somewhere that is less likely to bother you. Start giving yourself positive messages about your body. Let go of needing the approval of others. Whatever the issue that’s causing your negative thoughts, decide how you will work to turn those thoughts around. Don’t be afraid to see a therapist if necessary-they can really help you renew your approach to your thoughts.
- Focus on the positive. Redecorate with things that help you feel positive and good about yourself. Remove things that bring up negative thoughts, and replace them with positive items instead.
3. Start something that’s good for you.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to try meditation, yoga, or Tai chi. Maybe you’re curious about the Mediterranean diet. Or you want to shed some pounds.
Whatever your goal, start a practice that addresses that goal. If your vision of your renewed self is one that is calmer and more centered, consider starting a daily meditation practice. If your vision is of a person who is much more energetic, consider starting a new type of exercise. Think about your health, and what daily practice may be good for you, and then commit to doing it.
4. Try something new.
Listen to your inner voice. What is it telling you? If you’ve been neglecting your creative side, maybe you need to sign up for a painting class, or create a small art studio in your home. If you’ve been neglecting your adventurous side, maybe you need to join a hiking club, go rock climbing, or plan a few trips to natural areas around you.
Is it a pet you’re longing for? A chance to return to your musical roots? A chance to give back to your community? Listen to your inner longings, and then take action by trying something new.
5. Get away.
I know, you don’t have time. But imagine what you will feel like a year from now if you don’t get away to reflect on your life. Likely you’ll be in the same place you are now, feeling stuffed up, congested, and unable to release and renew.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Plan a weekend away at the next nearest town. Give yourself a personal retreat.
“In the past few years as we have added more children and have more noise and interruption,” says blogger Aimee, “I have found that it is essential for me to take personal retreats. A personal retreat is simply carving out extended quiet space to hear the Lord, to gain vision for my calling, and to plant the rhythms of my dailiness in the season that I am in.”
“A retreat is time you take for reflection and life planning,” says life coach Phyllis Mufson, “that you can do by yourself-or with friends. Taking an afternoon-or a day-for a thoughtful look at where your personal life and career is now, and how you want to develop them in the future, will help you plan, set goals you can achieve, and feel focused and self-confident as you begin the next phase of your career.”
Won’t you commit to getting away, even for a short time? You may be surprised at how much it helps you release and renew this spring.
How do you encourage spring renewal within yourself? Please share your ideas with our readers.
McMains S., Kastner S., “Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex,” J Neurosci., Jan 2011; 31(2):587-97, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167.