The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning offers many health benefits

The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

By D. S. Mitchell

The first day of spring, is March 20, which means it is time for spring cleaning. Washing windows, moving furniture, organizing the pantry are all big projects, but such annual tasks provide big benefits. Spring cleaning is more than just picking up your space, or tidying up a bit; it is about improving overall well-being. Organization and cleanliness can provide unexpected health benefits; read on.

Turn On The Feel Good Hormones

There is a proven connection between cleanliness, organization, and mental health. Studies have shown that a clean home and tidy surroundings are directly correlated to happiness, and the all important ability to focus. Clutter causes anxiety to spike. Laundry piling up in the corner, papers, and mail, strewn carelessly about on the floor and various surfaces can be overwhelming. If you want a boost in your mood, clean up. Cleaning the clutter will turn on those hormones that improve mood, and general attitude.

Send Germs Packing

Cleaning items that are touched frequently is a good place to start. Cleaning and sanitizing on a regular basis, not just as spring arrives, is a proven way to reduce the spread of germs. Keeping household surfaces clean can help reduce the spread of viruses and illnesses. Doorknobs, refrigerator handles, light switches, countertops, and TV remotes, are all places that germs are hanging out waiting to spread infection. Wipe it down and stay healthy.

Breathe Better  

I’ve suffered with asthma all my life. Dust and pollen can trigger an attack; causing me to cough, wheeze and struggle to breathe.  With spring comes pollen that aggravates such allergies. Pollen, however, isn’t the only thing floating about causing breathing problems. The build up of dust and pet dander can also cause respiratory problems, particularly for the vulnerable. Spring is the time for ‘deep-cleaning’. Changing out your air filters, furnace filters, and vents will go a long way to improving your overall health.

Get Moving 

Get up off the couch and get to work. Just running the vacuum and picking up the surface clutter will make you feel better. With that goal in mind here are a few tips from the internet to help you with the spring cleaning tradition.

Room by Room: Skip the areas that you clean regularly and focus on areas that are generally ignored or neglected.  Create a cleaning checklist for each room to help you stay on track and remind you what areas need special attention.

Seasonal Projects: Many tasks are seasonal, such as boxing and storing winter clothing, bedding, skis,  sleds, and decor. As you are putting away the memories of winter you will be preparing for summer activities.  Clean the grill, sweep the patio, wash exterior windows. Unpack summer linens, open the drapes and invite the sunshine in.

Clear And Organize: Focus on getting rid of clutter. Leticia Almeida, on her website, suggested a 4-step approach. “Identify problem areas, analyze reasons for the clutter, determine solutions and implement them. Sorting your belongings into four categories-trash, give away, store, or put away. . . ” is highly effective.  Her number one suggestion is “move the clutter as soon as possible, whether it’s bringing a donation box to a charity or having a garage sale.” (www.thespruce.com)

Enlist The Family: Make the Spring Cleaning project, a family affair. Young kids can be fun and imaginative, and excellent helpers. Assign tasks, and make everyone feel included. Turn on the tunes and plan a dinner at your favorite restaurant as a reward when the work is done.

My Take

Several of the experts suggest you break up the spring cleaning tasks in to multiple days to ‘establish cleaning habits’ that will last the rest of the year, encouraging you to spend 10-15 minutes a day straightening up and de-cluttering year round. Sorry, experts, I cannot deal with the mess that comes with cleaning, to want to extend it into several weeks; enjoying it in small doses. For me, it is all or nothing. Plus. it is easier to get help for a full eight hours, one day, or maybe a second day, but never a dozen days for half an hour a shot.  So, figure out what you want done and when you want it done and get on the phone and ask for help if you need it.

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Holiday Decorating Challenges

Yes, I admit I am guilty of a bit of tawdry tastelessness when it comes to holiday decorating, but my spouse has me beat hands down.

By Anna Hessel

Its hard to believe the holiday season is already here. As we prepare to celebrate, who can forget decorations? Sometimes I wish my husband would. Don’t get me wrong, I love a tasteful wreath on the door and a holly berry candle glowing on the mantle. And this year, thanks to my recent DNA test, we will be including a menorah along with the family creche. My Significant Other, however, is not a Clinton Kelly when it comes to holiday embellishment.

As I sit watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, I glance up in unmasked horror to see my spouse, attired in a Santa hat and flashing Christmas tree tie, hanging a string of bells on the bathroom doorknob. Curious, but cautious I enter the powder room, which he has transformed into a winter wonderland, as in, “I wonder what the heck happened to my bathroom?”

Gone are the tasteful lace-edged fingertip towels and gold-edged ceramic soap pump. In their place, is Hallmark’s ‘Jolly in the John’. Jolly is a talking snowman, holding a plunger, telling our guests they “look a little flush” and singing the “Potty Song”. My husband loves this little guy as much as he loves his Saab. Jolly doesn’t come alone. Joining good ol’ Jolly is his pet reindeer, another Hallmark creation, sporting a roll of toilet paper on one of his antlers. And, rounding out the tacky trio is Mr. Jolly’s “wife”, a plastic snowwoman soap pump.

A purple garland now adorns the shower curtain rod, and the shell toilet seat has been covered with a giant Santa face, gloved hands covering his eyes. Do you blame him?  He has replaced my attractive celery green with chocolate-brown polka-dots bathrobe with a latch hook creation of eight tiny reindeer, a rather unfortunate garage sale find. As I turn to flee this holiday horror I nearly knock over hubby who is nailing mistletoe above the ‘necessary’ room’s door.

Taking refuge on the couch I resume my paused holiday-inspired film. I take a fortifying gulp of my mocha latte and I watch suspiciously as my husband makes his way to the kitchen. There is a devilish glint in his eye, and our bell-collared pug, Maggie, follows close behind. In my better(?) half’s hands I can see he is carrying a pair of Rudolph pot holders and a Grinch tea towel. Visions of plastic glitter sugar plums strung on the stove dance in my head, threatening a migraine.

Did I mention, our cats, Zoe and Latte, are wearing kitty-sized elf ears? Does murdering a spouse still hold a life sentence?

I am the first to admit I have one of those aluminum trees (mine is pink), and a hodge-podge of sentimental ornaments. Yes, I am guilty of  a bit of tawdry tastelessness, but over the years my spouse has acquired a plethora of assorted kitschy Christmas items, right down to the glow-in-the-dark snowman boxers. I do not lie.

We have certainly decked the halls with a unique bevy of holiday decor, but always in the theme of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

I married a man with style…and a love of garage sale finds.

14 Secret Life Habits That Bring Happiness

14 Secret Life Habits That Bring Happiness

While some will seem obvious, others may not. . .

Happiness comes from staying vital and engaged

14 Secret Life Habits That Bring Happiness

By D. S. Mitchell

Your Future 

Psychologists and life coaches make it clear that some behaviors will lead to a productive and happy life, while others can potentially lead to prison.  Seriously, if you stopped reading at 12, drink to excess, drive recklessly, and bully your family, you are likely to come in contact with law enforcement and a whole lot of unhappiness. Conversely, there are habits and actions that are positive, rewarding, and fulfilling. Positive, rewarded and fulfilled; that sounds like the definition of happiness to me.

1.) Keep to a Schedule. This one can be hard, as we juggle work and life, but this is a biggie; one of the most important on this list. Just remember the goal and not the means. The goal is to bring organization out of chaos, NOT following the schedule stupidly.  Don’t let the schedule become the religion, but let it help you live a more comfortable life. Organization starts with a schedule. Staying on track is one of the best ways to get needed daily, weekly, and monthly tasks accomplished. And who doesn’t like to get things done? There is a satisfaction in a job done, especially if it is well-done.

2.) Adapt and Evolve. Change is a constant, once you accept that fact the happier you will be. Be flexible. Remember, “each moment is a new beginning.” As you get older, accepting change is often hard, but it is worth the effort. Stay relevant. Stay involved.

3.) The U-bend of Life. Science has told us that the happiest folks are those in their 80’s and beyond. I love a quote from Cousin Lucille, “Let my last days be my best days.” So if you are having a mid-life crisis and feel your life is on a downward trajectory be assured a turn around is in your future.

4.) Talk Kindly to Yourself. We all self-talk. If you talk doom and gloom, you will be repaid with doom and gloom. If you dial down the negative brain chatter you will be happier for it. Buddha said, “You are what you think,” suggesting you have an option to choose negative or positive. Like so many things in life there is an option.

5.) Don’t Let Vanity Stop You. If you are grossly overweight, pitifully thin, physically disabled, or disfigured; you may feel shy or uncomfortable about showing your body at the swimming pool, jogging down the roadway, or shaking your booty on the dance floor, but don’t let vanity get in the way of enjoying every moment of your life. Poor self-esteem and self criticism can deny you so much. Who cares what someone else thinks? Join the party.  Join life. Love life; it will love you back.

6.) Exercise. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week. Move more, sit less. Both your butt and your attitude will thank you. The World Health Organization has declared sitting to be the new smoking.

7.) Make Sure You Never Stop Playing. Taking childhood games into adulthood will keep you smiling. “Playing” suspends the brain in a unique and youthful flexible state. Go horseback riding. Play golf with a couple friends. Or, maybe you’d prefer a game of tennis? Chess or checkers can be fun. A card game will keep you competitive. Dungeons and Dragons anyone? How about a Renaissance Fair? I got it, let’s go fishing.  Never stop having fun.

8.) Write About It. Take a few minutes every evening to write about your day. Journaling, or diary keeping, is time well spent. The time you take to write about your day and its events allows you time to put everything into perspective, to calm your busy mind. It is enlightening to see back over decades of your life, one page at a time.

9.) Find Your Purpose. Most people describe it as “something larger than myself.” Engaging in a “cause” can actually raise your immunity levels and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, this need can be manipulated and twisted. In search of ‘your purpose’ stay away from radicalization. I’m not joking folks, careful what master you follow.

10.) Service. Volunteer your time, give your money. Service to others, to your family, your community, your nation is physically good for you. Your service will be rewarded with an infusion of an anti-inflammatory hormone.

11.) Take Time To Recharge. Take a break. Get a cup of coffee or tea and put your feet up. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself. We all need a quiet time to relax and recharge. Find what works best for you, since this is all about you, indulge. Remember, it takes time to replenish your inner core. It may just be a peaceful hot tub time-out or a glass of wine, just do it.

12.) Never Stop Reading. With the internet there are literally thousands of free book downloads at your  fingertips. When you are a child, books transport you to new and exciting worlds, places far from our everyday existence. I promise you they can do that at any time in our lives-keep reading.

13.) Stay Connected. It is so easy to let friendships and relationships die from lack of tending. Tend  doggedly to your relationships. Lifetime friendships and newly made ones deserve serious attention. Major life events, such as loss of a partner, retirement, a serious health condition often result in a pulling away. It is vital to stay connected; pick up the phone, write an email, send a card. It is important to continually be reaching out and embracing others.

14.) Be Inquisitive. Like the commercial tells us, “stay curious.” Keep asking questions. Keep exploring. The goal is to learn something new everyday, or at least try. Be the forever curious child. Always be open to new feelings, emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Internet Resources

The pandemic has made isolation and loneliness a centerpiece of our lives.   Making connections outside the usual peer group is more important today than ever before. If you are older, your peer group conversations likely revolve around pain, the obituaries, and your new blood pressure medication. If you are younger your conversations likely revolve around the new guy in the upstairs apartment, the high cost of concert tickets, Connie’s pregnancy, or the latest Marvel movie. Science shows that bringing two different generations together results in a different dialogue.  Turn your device to a hip hop station, use the internet to connect with programs that promote intergenerational interaction.

Intergenerational connection programs:

Check out Big & Mini (bigandmini.org), Sageconnect (sageusa.org/sageconnect) and Dorot (dorotusa.org) or Eldera (eldera.ai). These websites are free and welcoming.