Spring is here! The trees are leafing out with their palette of green. Spring flowers are blooming everywhere and fruit trees are wearing their multicolored blossoms. It’s nature’s moment of renewal and celebration.
This season always harkens a new start after winter’s cold and darkness. Many of us have our spring cleaning ritual —scrubbing floors and dirty corners, steam-cleaning rugs and emptying out overstuffed closets and cabinets. It’s a time for cleaning up gardens from winter storms that left leaves and branches on lawns and flower beds. It’s time to plant new flowers and shrubs.
Spring can also be a time for personal rejuvenation, too. I don’t mean just a time to focus on losing winter’s weight. It also can be a time to reflect on where we are and where we want to be. It can be a time to let go of negative feelings. It can be a time to explore new opportunities.
So how can we start anew this spring?
Let go of resentments. It’s easy to hold on to hurt feelings, disappointment and anger. These negative emotions become like grease and grime that builds up in the private corners of our hearts and minds. Some of these sentiments have been held close to our chests and haven’t been communicated to the offending parties. Others have been shared but still stick to our skins.
Spring is the perfect time to let these negative feelings go. I like to pick up stones at the beach and, as I throw each one into the water, I give it a name for my disappointment or hurt. Sometimes I will write each one one a piece of paper, and then set a match to the pile and watch the smoke take my negative feelings into the sky.
I want my spirit to start fresh and clean, so whatever new seeds I plant will grow strong and tall and will not be held back by any darkness I harbor.
Let go of useless worry. There is so much that is outside of our control. Ruminating over these concerns can be exhausting. Like dogs chasing our own tails, we go around in circles — without really doing anything productive or useful. Give your nervous system a rest.
Make a list of worries that are outside of your control whenever they build up, and live one day at a time. Nurture confidence in your ability to cope with adversity, if and when it does arise. I know that this is easier said than done, but with practice and intention, you can do it.
Plant new seeds in your inner garden. I have been studying tai chi for the past few years. I have decided to spend more time every day practicing this relaxing and restorative art. I have several home projects that I have been putting off that I want to complete. I have some old friends who I plan to visit. I am learning a new skill as a psychologist that I want to nurture.
This is a great time to renew old interests and start fresh ones. Join a gym, spend more time in spiritual pursuits, take a class, read a book or connect with someone new. There is no better time than now.
Nurture important relationships. Make a point of letting your loved ones know how much you love them — don’t keep those feelings to yourself! Put your feelings into action with acts of loving kindness. Set up a date with your partner, leave a thoughtful note on the kitchen table, and make sure to give her a hug when you walk in the door. Don’t let your family and friends feel taken for granted. Express your appreciation in words and actions.
Let this spring be a time to start anew and to become more of the person you hope to be.
Paul Schoenfeld is a psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog.