After the Christmas tree ornaments are safely packed away and life begins to quiet down, a sense of exhaustion overwhelms me. No doubt the Holiday Season can wear out the heartiest among us. But it’s more than my body being tired. It’s as though my mind is on overdrive with multiple thoughts of this past year swirling in conjunction with a myriad of hopes for the future. And when I look around me, it’s obvious that my surroundings are out of sync. With the bustle and chaos of the past several weeks, I’ve ignored basic housekeeping routines. But it’s more than that. Not only have I overlooked taking care of my physical environment, but I have also been lapsing with my daily exercise and self-care habits. Then it hits me – there’s nothing wrong, it’s just January – the time to pause, regroup, and clear for the upcoming year.
I don’t know about you, but I love cleaning out closets, organizing my office, and completing a general home purge at the beginning of each new year. This environmental clearing helps reframe my perspective, allows me to be more open toward new possibilities, and mentally prepares me to begin tackle the tasks and challenges that lay ahead. A good old-fashioned housecleaning makes me feel organized, prepared, on top of my game. And whether an item hits the trash or is donated for another to use, the process of going through stuff and weeding out what is no longer needed feels good. My January reboot has become a ritual for me, perhaps symbolic of a fresh start.
Yet I’ve learned that this habitual practice is so much more than just trying on clothes to see if they still fit, sifting through piles of paper that have been carelessly stashed away during the past few weeks, and removing the oh so fattening leftovers from the refrigerator and pantry. These are all physical purges. While certainly important and a great way to start a new year – as well as a new decade – there is so much more that needs to be removed. I’m referring to the emotional and energetic clutter that we’ve accumulated over the past year – you know, the stories we hold tightly to, the judgments that we’re not willing to let go of, and the self-doubt and criticisms that keep us from growing, taking risks, and exploring opportunities. This unhealthy clutter is all part of being human. It’s quite natural to accumulate thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve us. But for us to be at our bests, it is important to purge the energetic debris as we toss out that pair of jeans that will never fit us. Keeping the physical and emotional baggage that prevents us from our higher self only weighs us down, incites guilt, and keeps us from experience joy.
That’s why de-cluttering our mind and emotions is just as important, if not more so, than removing the accumulated items in our physical environment. When we are laden down with “junk” – whether it be in our heads or in our surroundings, it affects us, our mood, and our behavior. Perhaps we’re quick to snap at others, or maybe we have difficulty making decisions. Sometimes it shows up as lack of energy or even mindless “doing.” Regardless, carrying extra energetic baggage is not in our best interest. But how do we get rid of all this gunk? It’s not like we can physically remove it, toss it into a dumpster, or drop it off at the local Goodwill.
There are many avenues to self-cleanse our negative emotions. In no way am I an expert – in fact, getting rid of my low-vibrational energetic sludge is something that I constantly work on. But I can share what practices help me, and maybe they’ll prove beneficial for you.
1. Meditation – Ok – if that word sounds too woo-woo, then spend some time, by yourself without your phone or other distractions, and just be. Perhaps make a cup of tea and then sit. You can keep your eyes open or shut – sit up or lie down – whatever is most comfortable. Don’t try to make anything happen. Be still and see what comes up. Then feel any emotions that accompany these thoughts. After the emotion is felt, let it go. Maybe even thank this sensation for the lessons it has shared with you, but then set it free. It no longer serves you. Note your mood before and after this exercise. Another great option is to use guided meditations. My favorite apps are Insight Timer and Headspace. Plus, if you go online, you can find Yoga Nedra’s – these are particularly calming guided relaxation sessions. If you haven’t experienced one yet, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Go outside. Being in nature does wonders for the soul. The sensation of the sun on your back or hearing the birds sing can shift a negative mood to an optimistic outlook. Take your time and truly look at your surroundings. Notice the colors. Are there shadows? Do you feel the wind on your cheeks? What noises do you hear? When you return notice if you’re calmer than when you left.
3. Write. It doesn’t have to be in a pretty journal with beautiful handwriting – I always journal on my laptop because I have horrible handwriting and can’t bear the thought of my children finding my journals when I’m gone. Just write – you don’t even need to read what you wrote, though reviewing former journal entries can prove incredibly insightful. The purpose of writing is to release your thoughts in a fluid, uninhibited manner. This especially works when you’re angry or sad. Somehow letting it all flow, typing vigorously on my laptop, calms me and allows me to see things from a different perspective. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and are having trouble getting started, try an information dump – literally write down every thought/to do/nagging issue. For me, getting these worries out of my head and safely onto paper or my computer assures me that things will be taken care of and I don’t need to rely on my memory to make sure that they happen.
4. Surround yourself with people who raise your vibration. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the friends and family members who boost you, not those who suck the life from you. So, meet that friend for coffee, call your sister in Phoenix, or attend a yoga class with your favorite instructor. Just being in the presence of upbeat people can make a huge difference in your outlook, dissolve worry and negative thoughts, and reframe your mindset, permitting you to see the glass as half-full.
5. Sleep. Sometimes we just need shut eye instead of pushing ourselves to do more and more. And, I’ve found that when I’m overwhelmed, issues seem to resolve themselves if I take things slower and allow for rest. Maybe I’m magnifying certain dilemmas because I’m edgy. But with proper sleep, I’m capable of being more objective and less emotional. Yet sleep as an escape is not a good thing. So, remember, all things in moderation.
6. Move. How you’re moving or what you’re doing doesn’t really matter – walking, running, dancing, skiing, or even housecleaning – it’s having your body engaged in movement that counts. Stagnant limbs do not promote emotional or energetic releases. But when we shake things up on the outside, somehow things shift on the inside as well. So, turn up the music and get moving!
7. Slow down. This may seem contradictory to number six above, but I am referring to the hectic pace that so many of us have adopted as the new normal. Balancing kids, jobs, volunteering, a social life, and perhaps aging parents, well that’s quite a lot for anyone to handle. Yet, we can’t be all things to all people, and if we are out of alignment, then we are not at our best to help others. That’s why it’s important to slow down, take care of yourself, and then mindfully proceed with meeting your obligations and supporting those around you.
8. Love. When all else fails, love is always the answer. Love yourself, your spouse, your kids, your parents, your neighbors, your friends, your pets… even love a piece of literature, an object of art, or the rhythm of a song. When we project love, we dissolve the gunk that bogs us down, freeing us from those negative and limiting emotions.
While January is not the only good time to cleanse, it presents a wonderful opportunity to pause and reset. Sometimes that’s all we need – a quick dusting of sorts – both outside and inside – to help us feel better, be more productive, and act more compassionately toward ourselves and others. In no way am I suggesting that the above practices will permanently eliminate negative emotions. That is almost impossible. But what they can do is begin to peel back the layers of the onion, slowly help us discover what keeps us back and prevents us from obtaining the life that we know that we are meant to live. Sometimes we can shed multiple layers of that onion. Yet somedays, it seems like we struggle to peel back the top skin, knowing that so much more lies beneath.
This is a process, and this process is never-ending. It’s what life on Earth is all about – discovery, growth, letting go, and allowing. None of it is easy, but with trust and faith, we can all slowly cleanse within so that we can evolve into who are meant to become.