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Spring cleaning for the soul

By Kathy Melamed
Clinical Communication Director

So, what about “spring cleaning?”  According to the Internet, it is indeed a practice common in many cultures.  Iranians “shake the house,” cleaning everything before the celebration of their new year.  In the Jewish tradition, a complete cleansing of the home is accomplished before the spring holiday of Passover.  In colonial America, spring was a time for opening windows and letting out the stale air and dust from the long winter months. The ritual continues today.  (Notice the increase in advertising of cleaning products at this time of the year, and the number of articles in popular publications encouraging us to think about de-cluttering and re-claiming organization in our lives.)

How does this relate to caregiving?  For the caregiver, the idea of spring cleaning is both practical and metaphorical.  It seems, with the lengthening of days, that we have just a bit more time, and if we are lucky, a little more energy.  Perhaps we can file a few of those medical bills stacked in the corner.  We can make that call to schedule our own overdue physical check-up.  We can sort through the medicine chest and throw away the expired pharmaceuticals. We can finally complete those Advance Care Planning forms, Medical Power of Attorney, etc.—for our loved one and ourselves.  We may not achieve a total spring cleaning, but there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from doing even just a little.  

We sense a bit more control over our lives when we take control over ‘stuff’ we see and also what we cannot see.  How about a de-cluttering of our minds?  We spend much of our mental and emotional energy on regret about the past and worry about the future.  A spring cleaning of our minds might allow us to let go of some of that in order to be in the present, enjoying March, one day at a time.  Fresh cut flowers help too.

“Be aware of miracles in the mundane.  Routine activities and chores may sometimes seem unexciting and of little value, but an energizing sense of order and accomplishment can come from taking care of the basics.” –Caregiver Therapy, Julie Kuebelbeck and Victoria O’ Connor

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