When it comes to my anxiety, depression or well-being in general, I am always willing to test out or work on new things that may alleviate the more difficult times. I have lots of tools and exercises that I already use to manage my mental health, but you can NEVER have too many.
Over the past couple of months, I have found the latest thing to add to my toolbox…cleaning!
I know what you’re thinking.
Cleaning is the last thing you feel like doing when that familiar feeling of dread kicks in. It’s a chore, and a bore, right?
Well I thought the same up until recently. when I was told about a certain instagram account called mrshinchhome run by the lovely Sophie Hinchliffe. It was apparently addictive and I was skeptical about it because cleaning really wasn’t something I enjoyed – even less so, watching someone else doing it!
But, intrigued enough, I had a peek and before I knew it, I was watching story after story.
I was hooked.
Suddenly, all I wanted to do was head down the cleaning isles and blitz the house! The last time I’d felt anything remotely like this was during pregnancy when that mad nesting instinct kicked in. I was suddenly stocking up on cleaning products and scrubbing areas I’d never given a second thought to. My other half must have thought I’d had a personality transplant.
After a few weeks of ‘hinching’, I was noticing how many women were commenting that this had really helped their mental health and how happy they were that they had stumbled upon her account.
This made me look at my own feelings and I realized that it had been having the same effect on me.
So what is it about this new cleaning craze that really helps us with something as important as our mental health and how can it help you?
1. Cleaning Is Mindful.
We all know how important mindfulness is when it comes to managing our anxiety and depression. Mindfulness can be used in many ways and encourages us to be present and more aware in our every day lives.
Some examples of mindfulness activities are: colouring, cooking, knitting…and even cleaning!
When we clean, it forces us to focus and pay attention in a way that clears the mind from unhelpful thoughts and feelings. These activities are usually quite therapeutic and don’t require a level of concentration that could be too demanding.
2. Cleaning Gives Us A Sense Of Achievement.
When we are feeling low or anxious, we are often more self-critical and our self-worth suffers. The negative talk kicks in and we can feel pretty worthless. Doing something that gives us a sense of achievement can really lift us out of that vicious cycle. When we look at the job that needs doing, it can seem overwhelming and unmanageable. Breaking it down into smaller tasks and ticking it off with a list can really help, and doing something as simple as cleaning the bath or kitchen sink gives us a sense of accomplishment which raises our mood and reminds us – we are NOT worthless.
3. A Clean House = A Clean Mind.
Have you ever heard people say something about how a clean house is a clean mind? What exactly does that mean and is it really true?
There is something about being in a tidy or clean environment that can calm that anxiety and quieten the noise in our heads. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have that background inner critic telling us off for being lazy or messy or useless. Maybe it’s because it’s just one less thing to worry ourselves about or maybe it just has a calming effect. Either way – it is true. When I’ve got a nice tidy place to sit or work at, I am often more productive, positive and focused.
4. Cleaning Is A Distraction.
Sometimes, when our anxiety or depression is really overwhelming, none of our usual tricks and tools do the job and the only thing that we can really do, is distract ourselves from the painful thoughts and feelings. In the moment, there is nothing wrong with trying to get through the short term. Distraction comes in many forms, whether it’s going out with friends, watching TV on your own, or cleaning the house. Put on some tunes, full blast, roll up your sleeves and do something to make yourself feel better…by getting your home just how you like it.
5. Having A Cleaning Schedule Or Routine Keeps Anxiety At Bay.
Have you ever noticed how our minds get so fixated on chaos and things that need doing? Our heads have a way of creating a constantly updating ‘to do’ list, and then because we can’t ever tick them all off, we’re right back to telling ourselves how useless we are and how we can’t do simple and that we’ll never get anywhere.
Creating any kind of schedule or routine has helped me many times with my mental health. By setting some time aside daily or weekly for cleaning, I am telling my mind that things will get done and that I don’t need to worry or criticize myself.
And remember…some days, the schedule will go out the window -especially with kids…and that’s OK! Just rearrange it for another day. Try it for a couple of weeks and see how it works for you.
6. Having A Project Creates A Purpose.
If there is one thing I have learned during my own journey with mental health, it is that us humans need a purpose! It doesn’t matter what that is in your life; it could be being a mum, it could be an ideal career or dream or it could be to help others. Whatever it is, when we have a purpose, we have a direction and everything we do towards that direction feels good!
This also works for smaller projects and goals. Working on something we enjoy and want to improve really helps to pull us from depression. Cleaning can be a perfect project. Set up a pinterest board or just grab a pen and paper. Write down what or how you want things to look. Set yourself a project to clean certain areas on certain days and be proud of your home!
7. Cleaning Has Created A Community.
Having people that understand us and care about the same things can have such a powerful effect. Mrs Hinch has unintentionally drawn together a huge group of people that have bonded over their cleaning projects, and mental health struggles. It’s a wonderful thing to see and people that may have felt alone and different, finally have a connection and a support network to lean on.
8. De-Cluttering And Simplifying.
You may have seen lots about de-cluttering your home and minimalism. Well, there is a lot to say for it when it comes to mental health. Choose a small area, a cupboard or wardrobe and go through what you really want to keep, but try and let go of as much as you can. This can be really productive and helpful, especially when giving things to someone more in need. When we let go of things we’re holding onto, we are committing to change. We want to move on and change our lives for the better and holding onto ‘things’ can keep us going back to memories and sad or difficult times. It can also take us back to happy times, which can pull us into ‘comparison mode’, none of which is useful. Be really honest abut why you want to keep something and see how it feels afterwards!
9. Cleaning Requires Music!
Who doesn’t like a good dance around the living room to feel better? Even when we least feel like it, putting on music can really shift out mood and cleaning definitely needs a soundtrack!
So, if cleaning has always seemed like a huge mountain you haven’t got the energy to climb, try a few of these tips or check out mrshinchhome. Different things work for different people and this might just be the thing that works for you!