Spring Cleaning, ADHD-Style
Time to get rid of the junk in your house, resentments in your heart, and all that clutter in your mind.
As a member of the ADHD tribe, I’m prone to mood swings. I have mood swings within mood swings! My regular mood swings happen within my seasonal mood swings, which also encompass my monthly mood swings. That’s another blog.
I have a pretty great relationship with nature, as most people with ADHD do. There’s a strong connection, kinship, and mutual respect, so it’s not surprising that my moods follow the seasons. In the summer, I’m full of fire energy — with less patience for my kids, who are home from school. In the fall, I nest and become more calm and introspective. In the winter, I “die” with the leaves and become withdrawn. Spring finds me happy-go-lucky and back to life.
Mother Nature knows that in order to make room for new growth there must first be some purging. Leaves fall to the ground in the autumn so that new leaves have somewhere to thrive in the spring. Without this balance, there wouldn’t be room for growth and the tree would stagnate.
It’s the same for us. As creatures connected to nature, it makes sense to follow her direction and do some spring cleaning of our own. We get rid of the old, tired patterns and thoughts of yesterday and make room for new, cool things to happen today.
> Sweep the house. Now is the perfect time to go through the house with a box (or 18 boxes, as I did) and start getting rid of things you don’t need, want, or use. You can have a garage sale, or, if that seems like too much effort, you can freecycle, or donate your items. When you’re done de-cluttering the house, mix up an all-natural, aroma-therapeutic cleanser to make things shiny, just as those of us with ADHD like ’em. Using orange and lavender essential oils gives you the benefits of lifting your spirits while you clean.
Add the following to a spray bottle and shake well: 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 24 drops of lavender essential oil, 24 drops of sweet orange essential oil.
> Dusting off your emotions. There’s some crazy stuff going on around us, and we get to hear about it all. Take a week off from the news. Don’t watch it, don’t listen to it, and don’t read about it online. You may feel like you’re missing out, but you’re only missing out on stories that feed negative feelings. If something great happens, you’ll hear about it.
Use the week to process the junk you already have in your noggin, so you can dump what you don’t need. Are you holding on to anger or sadness that no longer serves you? Get rid of it. My favorite quote says it all, “Resentment is the act of stabbing yourself repeatedly in the heart, hoping to kill the other person.” That’s just dumb.
A great way to get rid of unnecessary emotional baggage is by using visualization. Get in a comfy position, close your eyes, and see the negative feelings as red smoke. Take a deep breath and exhale the red smoke out of your body. With every exhalation, release everything old that is taking up valuable space. With every inhalation, take in a cleansing breath filled with new ideas and experiences waiting to be fulfilled.
> De-clutter your brain. I don’t know anyone with ADHD who doesn’t have a million things going through her mind at once — old to-do lists, new to-do lists, birthday cards, bills, times to pick up the kids, questions about what am I going to do with my life?
A common side effect of keeping it all inside is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Though I don’t have any luck with keeping them, to-do lists are great for keeping track of what needs to be done, which is awesome. But sometimes the brain of someone with ADHD needs to get organized and compartmentalized in order to feel like we’re on top of things. Getting on top of things is a sure-fire way to keep that beaten feeling at bay.
For this, I use mind maps — a visual way of seeing what you have going on in your brain. When you get it all on paper, you won’t feel the need to keep it all in your brain. Unlike a to-do list, things are visualized in a nonlinear way so you don’t have to prioritize — another major ADHD struggle.
On a large piece of paper or poster board, draw a circle in the middle of it. Label the circle as “me.” Now think about the big things that are weighing on you right now. If you are stressing about work, the health of a loved one, money for braces, and the fact that you need to start exercising, draw four circles around the “me” circle and label accordingly, connecting the “me” circle to the “challenges” circles with lines. From there, you branch off of each “challenge” circle with its own orbit of circles.
For the “work” circle, you might branch off with “May presentation, too many hours, and issues with boss.” Do that with each of your “challenge” circles and break those “challenges” down with their own circles until you have a clear picture of what is going on. Seeing your “challenges” clearly allows you to de-clutter your brain and find ways to solve your worries instead of wading in them.
Spring is such a great time for new beginnings. Now, go live.