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Spring Cleaning
Personal Health

The Psychology Behind Spring Cleaning

Open up the windows. Deep-clean the closets. Declutter the drawers. Shift that vacuum into overdrive. There are few things more satisfying than the completion of a proper spring cleaning.

The practice of spring cleaning is a time-honored ritual that's rooted in cultural tradition. It dates back to the days when homes were heated by wood and lit by lanterns that left layers of soot on every surface. When spring arrived, it was time to open up the windows and doors, pull out the rugs and bedding to beat away the dust, and scrub the floors and windows until they shined.

Today, families are busy with work and school. There is less time to clean, so springtime has become a catalyst of sorts for less-routine chores. It's also symbolic — a time to come out of hibernation and let the sunshine reveal all the dust left behind.

So why does this age-old tradition, which happens to involve a great deal of physical labor, create such a strong sense of satisfaction? The answer doesn't necessarily lie inside your closet.

It Lightens Your Mood

There is more to cleaning than sparkling floors and clutter-free countertops. It also eliminates stress. Clutter overwhelms your senses and weighs you down. It's also a reminder that our work is never done. By creating an orderly and organized home, we are exercising influence over our environments. Since there's very little stress or anxiety we can control in our lives, simply creating a more organized personal space can make us feel at ease.

It Improves Your Health

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), a good spring cleaning can help you breathe better. If you're prone to allergies or an asthma-attack sufferer, don't assume pollen is the primary offender. Powerful asthma triggers, such as dust and pet dander, float on small air currents and settle on every surface in your home. A thorough cleaning of your home can help eliminate allergens and keep new ones from coming in. And when you feel better physically, it's easier to relax.

It Increases Productivity

If you haven't used or worn something since the last spring cleaning, it might be a good time to get rid of it. Cleaning and decluttering your home can save you time when looking for misplaced items and save you the money you'd spend on replacing them in the future. Knowing there is a place for everything gives you peace of mind. This goes for the office, too, particularly if you have papers and gadgets spread all over your desk. Clutter makes it difficult for the brain to filter information. If you think it's hindering your productivity, purge it. Simplify.

It's Good Exercise

You don't have to have a gym membership to work out. Like any physical activity, spring cleaning can burn calories. Now, strolling around the house for 10 minutes with a feather duster won't do much, but 30 minutes or more of moderate activity, such as vacuuming or scrubbing floors, can add up. The more you move, the more calories you'll burn — and you'll reduce fatigue and increase your overall energy levels in the process.

It Will Make You Feel Good About Yourself

Spring cleaning also means cleaning out the emotional closets we have accumulated over the years. All the stuff that takes up our physical space — such as too many clothes, a vast shoe collection, or too much furniture — creates clutter in our homes and in our minds.

Spring is all about new beginnings. Take it upon yourself to use the changing of seasons to create change in yourself. You'll feel a weight lifted.

Posted in Personal Health

Emily Williams is a seasoned freelance writer specializing in health care. She has worked for some of the nation's leading hospitals, crafting stories about patients and families; covering the latest research and innovation; and interviewing the top minds in medicine.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.