woman meditating with duster

Emotional Spring Cleaning: Let’s Join the Party

 

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” – Gustav Mahler

Spring is my favorite all of the seasons.

While the rest of the seasons sort of flow into each other, the change from winter to spring here is dramatic. The green grass grows. The breezes turn warm and the flowers all bloom and there’s gorgeous color everywhere.

I feel like I’ve come alive again just like nature.

I get spring fever really badly every year. I can’t work so I have the time to go outside in the yard and sit in the sun and smell the daffodils and notice a lot of the little miracles of nature. I feel lucky to get to do that.

Back when I was healthy I planted thousands and thousands of them around our yard (which, being on a piece of property in the country, is at least an acre.) It’s become a springtime tradition for my husband to plant a bag of a new type of daffodil I can enjoy. I sit and take pictures. Cars slow down to see the bright displays of bunches and bunches of yellow, orange, white, double corona, tiny, huge daffodils.

I don’t have nearly enough.

What is Emotional Spring Cleaning?

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Spring, with its renewal and rebirth, is a wonderful time to clean out the old dirt and dust and clutter and open up to the fresh air and light. We’ve all heard the term “Spring Cleaning”. Now, I have to confess I don’t do this in my house. At stage 3 COPD I have no energy for it and I get short of breath just walking 20 feet.

But I do what’s called an “Emotional Spring Cleaning”. It’s the idea that spring is also a good time to let some of those old bad, negative feelings get swept away and to let in good ones.

How Does It Help?

“It’s a new dawn/ it’s a new day/ it’s a new life for me/ and I’m feeling good.” lyrics, “Feeling Good,” from The Roar of the Greasepaint

A year or two after my diagnosis, I seriously contemplated my mental thought process, and found I really didn’t like some of the things I told myself. “I’m so useless.” “I can’t do anything.” “No one wants to be around me anymore.” “I have no purpose in life.” Those thoughts weren’t helpful; in fact, they were downright mean. And I realized that I didn’t need to be mean to myself mentally when I was already going through enough bad stuff physically. I’d always considered myself a nice person, so why wasn’t I nice to myself?

After working hard at it, the emotional spring cleaning I did really helped me to feel better mentally with a better outlook on life and better thoughts about myself. I was much gentler to myself.

A positive mental outlook has been linked to physical benefits and longevity. This is a wonderful gift. Barbara Fredrickson has a good article in the magazine American Scientist titled “The Value of Positive Emotions: The emerging science of positive psychology is coming to understand why it’s good to feel good.” She explains the phenomenon well with lots of colorful pictures and diagrams, my favorites.

So How Do You Do It?

Part One

“I am the way a life unfolds and bloom and seasons come and go and I am the way the spring always finds a way to turn even the coldest winter into a field of green and flowers and new life.” – Charlotte Eriksson

Do your research and find out what works for you. There are plenty of articles on the Internet about letting go of the negative thoughts and doing some emotional spring cleaning.

First, a note. Some negative thoughts will always come through. We are human and that is normal for us. When you’re sick and laying in bed for weeks in an exacerbation it’s perfectly understandable to be angry and frustrated about it. When you’re lonely it’s very easy to blame yourself. When you can’t do what you used to do it hurts. Just don’t get stuck in that mindset.

I did for a couple of years.

I want it to be better for you. So I’m going to share what worked for me.

I love ritual. We have family rituals for most holidays. I like prayer rituals. I like lighting candles. I also learn and retain best by visual and hands-on practice. So when someone suggested I make a personal ritual to help, I was all for it.

First, I wrote down a list of things I loved to do but couldn’t anymore. It was a long list. Then after my son was asleep my husband and I went outside and sat in my favorite place, a little corner of my yard I call my serenity grove. It was nighttime but I could still smell the daffodils and the violets. It was a perfect place for my little ceremony.

I read my list out loud. I made myself a promise, out loud, to always remember those things and those times fondly, but to try to let that person go. I was ready to stop mourning her.

Then I burned that list and we watched it go up in flames.

It was difficult, and it was sad, but it was time.

Next, I read aloud a list I had written about the things I could still do, and the good things about my brain and my personality that I still had. I do not like bragging about myself (no, really) and I don’t tend to toot my own horn (no, really) but reading that list felt good.

Then I made myself another promise, out loud, to try to like the new me and to remember these good things. I didn’t burn that list; I kept it to help me keep that promise.

Part Two

“If you want to be somebody else/ If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself/ If you want to be somebody else/ Change your mind” – lyrics, “Change Your Mind” by Sister Hazel

The second way I do emotional spring cleaning, is something I actually try year round. I change my mind.

Its premise is simple:

Whenever you start to think something bad, stop it and replace it with something good.

When I’d start to think one of my constant refrains, “Oh, I’m just useless,” I would pretend to hear a tape rewinding in my head. Then I would play a new chorus, “I can still do important things.” I had to also change my definition of “important things” from “working, being a Scout Den Leader, volunteering, etc.,” to “being kind, letting people with COPD know they’re not alone, sharing my photographs of nature, etc.” And I’m okay with that.

I’m not going to lie to you: Changing what you tell yourself – changing your mind – is hard. As much as I hope I inspire you, and I really do, reading this article will not fix everything. You must be willing to consciously try to change your inner dialogue for a long time until your newer, more positive one feels comfortable.

Conclusion

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” – Robin Williams

So much color, so much light and warmth, so much joy, spring really can be a party. Let’s join it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • lovinggrandma
    8 months ago

    Hello! Yes, spring was my fave time of year, also. Now, with stage 4 copd w emphysema, I can’t even plant my beautiful flowers bc of all the pollen and mold where I live. So I watched the butter cups this year from inside looking out. But, alas, I was a picture taker and just get them out and say, “you were a heck of a gardener, Angie”! Thank you for all the insightful articles and posts! I am trying to come out of reclusiveness, too.

  • antonia4
    9 months ago

    These posts have been so helpful for me. I have isolated myself somewhat and that needs to change. Thanks to all of you for the wonderful information.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi antonia4 – it’s our pleasure. We’re so pleased that you find all the information to be so helpful and appreciate you taking the time to let us know. Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Fred B
    2 years ago

    “HIGH GUYS”, Yes, this ‘HIGH” is not a typo. I figure since it was the smoke for getting ‘HIGH’ that helped me get into this”LOW” physical condition I may as well utilize it again in the way I say HELLO. Maybe some others can relate to this thinking. What I wouldn’t do to go back when I was a small child and early teens to be able to say ” no thanks, I don’t need THAT to get high I get high with my music. I used to be quite the singer in my day and used to take pride in the fact that i had a God given talent with music. Both playing and singing. I knew I had copd LONG before I “knew” I had copd. When I went into find out exactly where I was with the emphysema, it was no surprise when i was told i was at stage three. What really surprised me was when the doctor told me what I had she followed it with” Im so sorry”. I thought “Heck it can’t be THAT bad”. Well as those of us that have stage three already know it is bad but i still want to believe its not “That bad” and occasionally indulge in getting HIGH which more than confirms how BAD it really is as well as aggravate me with the fact that I am still willing to occasionally use the very thing that is killing me. Not only is copd very ugly, ADDITION in itself is very ugly. More than I care to admit i do let my attitude dictates my actions and I am always attempting to change it.This site as well as others has been very useful. I am finding that the more i learn the better fell. I than feel more confident that i can deal with this diagnosis better “one day at a time”. Thanks for all the input from both professionals and us afflicted. I belong to another group that says” we can do together what i can’t do alone’. Thanks all for helping me do the best I can together and not alone. As my late mother used to say and i still hear quite clearly in my minds ears “GODS SPEED” and have a good day, you deserve it.!

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    Hi FredB –

    Thanks so much for sharing what’s going on in your world! We really hear you about how difficult it can be, and especially the inner conflict about smoking. It sounds like you have a fantastic attitude – as well as a skill for creating a play on words! I’m so glad you found our site and others that are helpful for you. Please know you are welcome to come by any time!

    Best,
    Jenn (COPD.net Team)

  • Jema
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article. My boyfriend was diagnosed 2 yrs ago with end stage COPD and so much of what you said is like listening to my him speak..It all hits home and I am so sure this will help him tremendously. Especially when he sees that others think and say the same things as he does.He’s a wonderful and talented man and I just want him to realize what a special person he is and he can accomplish what he sets his mind to.Thank you again.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi (again) MustangSallyrj. We’re so glad you found this information to be so valuable for both you and your boyfriend. You are always welcome here. It’s gratifying to know our published material is so useful for you.
    Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • branc1
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article. You put your finger on many of the things I feel. I am not alone!I just found this site and I think its going to be a big help!

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    So glad you found us, branc1! Thanks for your comment – we’re very happy to hear the article really resonated with you!

    Wishing you a good one today – and come back any time!!!

    Best,
    Jenn (COPD.net Team)

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