Is spring cleaning actually good for us? The positive psychology behind “spring resets”

Written by Amy Beecham

Two experts explain why we feel the pull to reset our lives, homes and wardrobes as the seasons change.

As the sun starts to peek out from behind the clouds and the days get ever-so slightly longer, so comes the long-awaited mental transition from winter to spring.

It’s an entirely new way of thinking, and if you’re anything like me, the transition sparks a mass reassessment of my life. Do I really need all these clothes? Am I maximising my space? Is the clutter in my flat actually causing me more stress than joy?

Much like the September reset, which conjures all the back-to-school notions of eager organisation and brand new stationery, our desire to reset our lives in spring feels like a clear shift in energy.

Gone are the low, dark, lethargic days. Spring is the time for optimisation. We feel pulled to drink more water, eat more vegetables, move our bodies, feel the sun on our faces, and get out in the world.

We wipe away the cobwebs of the previous month, literally and metaphorically. After all, what feels more ‘spring’ than open windows, fresh linens and clear surfaces?

And so we find ourselves pottering in our evenings and spending weekends itemising our wardrobes or trying out the latest TikTok cleaning hack. For the hard-core among us, we might even dip our toe in döstädning aka Swedish “death cleaning”.

Spring cleaning oddly feels different to the everyday household chores we loathe to make time for. Spring resets bring satisfaction, a sense of calm among the chaos of modern life.

Things get ticked off to-do lists, books get read, notebooks journaled in. We revel in the moments we can steal to do the things we enjoy the most. It’s a re-prioritisation of ourselves as we emerge into the next bright part of the year. 

Why are spring resets so appealing?

“In comparison to the short, dark days of winter, spring is packed with positive connotations of renewal, awakening, transformation, new beginnings and hope,” explains confidence coach Tajinder Kaur.

“There’s a lightness in the air. More sunlight, fresh food (stepping away from our winter comfort foods), more time in nature, quarterly check-in and seasonal home reset lifts spirits and productivity.”

Kaur tells Stylist that our energy levels are directly linked to our mood, which explains the boost of motivation we feel as the days get lighter.

“Exposure to sunlight increases the production of serotonin in the brain, a hormone associated with boosting and regulating mood,” agrees hypnotherapist and emotional resilience coach Raquel Martos.

“So as soon as the sun is out, everyone’s mood improves and our energy levels rise, making us feel more energized, social, hopeful and overall happier.”

Benefits of spring cleaning: the new season ushers in increased motivation to evaluate our lives

“Hope makes us believe anything is possible,” continues Kaur. “Spring is filled with lightness, flowers are blossoming, meals are light and fresh, clothes are colourful and airy.”

“As it’s a new season, it’s natural for us to switch things up from organising our wardrobes, clearing our IRL and online spaces, changing up routines. These tasks are beneficial to our well-being as it gives the mind clarity and ease, being able to function at top capacity. Take organising your wardrobe, it streamlines your decisions in the morning. Plus when you look good, you feel good.”

If you’re keen to take advantage of the hopeful feeling of spring to look at the emotions or limiting beliefs that you don’t want to hold you back or bring into the new season, Martos and Kaur have a few tops for an effective spring reset.

How to design an effective spring reset

While deep cleaning your home may feel a natural place to start, and studies do show that cluttered homes have a negative influence on the way we perceive our space and ultimately our satisfaction of life, Martos stresses the importance of mental clear outs, too.

“Spring is a great time to do emotional resilience work as you’ve got more motivation and energy than you did during darkness of January,” she says. “The act of cleaning and getting rid of things we don’t need anymore signals to the brain that we’re ready for a new chapter and experiences.” The same logic can be applied to any negative emotions or grudges we may be harbouring.

“Basic spring reset ideas could involve a closet clear out, a change of decor, a financial check in or declutter of your online spaces,” adds Kaur.

“Make a list of the actionable step you want to take – eg. declutter your desk drawer – and then write the reason why after each task. It serves as a reminder and increases chances for progression.”

If the task at hand feels insurmountable, Kaur has a handy hack. “If all else fails, then try the five second rule by Mel Robbins. It’s essentially when you make a decision, you have five seconds to follow through before your mind starts talking you out of it.”

Images: Getty

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