If You Want To Change The World, Make Your Bed First

Mindsmatter

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At first, it was all laughter and memes, we thought that this whole thing would be a matter of a few weeks and that in the meantime we just had to get used to Zoom calls and working in pajamas.

More than one year after the global pandemic was declared, we have learned many things in the last several months. One of them is how important it is to take care of your mental health, maintain healthy habits and have a certain level of order in our lives. Some countries seem to have completely forgotten about the Covid and began to have “normal” lives (I envy you and at the same time I don’t, I fear for you, Florida) but in other countries, we’re a little behind.

Regardless of how your country’s government is tackling the health crisis, it’s up to you to keep the things you learned during confinement and keep learning how to take care of your mental health. This is why there is a new trend that has become popular as it kills two birds with one shot: Cleanfulness.

Yes, it sounds suspiciously close to mindfulness but it is no coincidence. These two practices have much in common and above all the same goal: to be aware of how to take care of our mind and keep ourselves healthy in body and soul.

Tidy home tidy mind

What is Cleanliness? At first, it may seem like a trick your mom would try to make you do your chores but stick with me on this one. It is a practice similar to mindfulness and mindful eating that focuses on giving importance to household chores, staying present in the moment, to create a healthy environment that strengthens our well-being.

In short: if in your home there are piles of accumulated clothes, towers of empty pizza boxes, and a piece of cheese in the fridge that was milk when you bought it, it is VERY likely that your mental state is not the most optimal.

Why tidy up the home?

This is one of the tasks that we usually skip or leave last on our priority list, because it is tedious, repetitive, exhausting and the profits are not so attractive. So it’s very, very easy to let clutter build up and turn that into normalcy, ignoring the repercussions it can have on our mental health.

Although it may sound like a very millennial thing, this practice is ancient like many religions. The concept of “meditating while you work” that some Buddhist monks applied thousands of years ago to promote a mental exercise that seeks excellence in everything we do, even in the most inconsequential tasks.

It is not just keeping your house clean, it is using the action of ordering as a way to stay focused on the present while creating an environment of your liking that helps you stay positive.

Benefits of applying Cleanliness

Even if you don’t like doing chores, we all like a clean house. The effects that our environment brings with it are proven, so if yours causes you stress and fatigue, it is very difficult for you to stay productive and efficient during the day.

The scientific side tells us that what we see every day is projected on our emotions and actions, so if when you wake up the first thing you see is the Mount Fuji of garbage, the first thing you will feel a day will not be pretty things. So strive to achieve a pleasant view to see in your home, buy some plants, hang a picture with beautiful colors.

The philosophical and spiritual side tells us that we are connected with what surrounds us and that through daily tasks we can find peace and serenity, as a way of meditating on the move. Think of cleaning not as a task, but as a break, where you can stop to think and reflect on anything.

Also, in a time when we were forced to stay at home and turn our living room into our office, game room, or study room, the disorder is more present in us and the consequences are greater.

How to start practising Cleanliness

Although the concept is immensely simple, it is more than just washing dishes and sweeping every now and then. For Cleanfulness to be effective, it needs to become a habit, to the point where you don’t clean just because you feel like you have to, but because it makes you feel good.

If you are someone who is not very used to doing these tasks, it may take a little longer. If you’ve let a Roomba vacuum cleaner, a dishwasher, or a maid do the cleaning, it might be time you got a little more involved to do this.

In my case, I have always enjoyed washing the dishes (except the pots), and coming from a Latin American country, no, we didn’t have a dishwasher, I know, hell on earth, right? The truth is that doing the dishes relaxes me and has become a time to think for me. Although I really appreciate the look of a clean kitchen, what motivates me the most to do the dishes is the moment with myself.

Do not despair, you do not have to be a cleaning addict to be able to do Cleanfulness, you just have to follow the following steps:

  1. Make your own itinerary. Like any new habit, we must plan it and follow a schedule, as if it were an exercise routine. Choose what days and at what hours you will clean in the week according to your time and availability.
  2. You don’t have to do everything every day. It’s not about doing general cleaning of the house every day over and over again. One day you can focus on the living room, another on the kitchen, another on the bathrooms…
  3. It is not one person’s job. If you live with family or roommates, it is best to organize and make Cleanfulness a group, it should not be the responsibility of a single person. Talk to them and encourage them to join.
  4. Don’t do it on autopilot. The essence of this practice is that you are completely immersed in the tasks, it is an exercise in concentration and being present. If you do it as a programmed robot it will not be like meditating.
  5. Make it fun. It doesn’t have to be a monotonous and boring task, put on music, listen to your favorite podcast, Moonwalk from room to room.
  6. Reward yourself. After a long and satisfying cleaning session prepare your favorite snack or a coffee. I promise you that the flavors taste better when you are at peace and in tune with your environment.
  7. Be patient. Don’t expect to be an expert in Cleanfulness, meditation, and an unflappable mind after day one. Like any habit, it takes time and perseverance. Don’t beat yourself up.

The point of all this is to see it as starting a new diet or exercising. The goal is your mental health and well-being, and to put an order in what happens inside your head, it is good to start by cleaning at home.

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Mindsmatter is written by Bola Kwame, Jack Graves and Emma Buryd. De-stigmatizing mental illness one day at a time. www.linktr.ee/Mindsmatter

New York, NY
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