I heard this phrase the other day, “September is the new January” and thought how true. Why didn’t I come up with that? Whether you have children at home beginning a new school year or not, I bet you can relate. There is something about the end of summer, the thought of Fall approaching, and the commercials for new school clothes, new schedules, new backpacks and the sound of those giant yellow buses barrelling down the street, that reminds us that it’s time for a new year. A new season. A fresh start.
I unconsciously caught this bug recently. I came home from a morning workout and decided at that moment to take every single item out of my refrigerator, basically take the inside out, and give it a massive cleaning and overhaul. Before the job was done, my kitchen was in a mess and my garbage can full of out dated, almost spoiled, or let’s face it – completely spoiled produce, and half eaten leftovers. However, when it was done, my fridge was fresh and sparkling, and I had an organized and much healthier refrigerator. I immediately felt much more better and as if I was offering much healthier options, or at least now we could see the healthy stuff!
I wasn’t finished there either. I then moved to the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. Do you hate this spot as much as I do? I always marvel when I go to other folks’ homes and see a perfectly organized and clean under sink cabinet. How do they do that? How do you keep the cleaning supplies so neatly lined, the liner so pristine, and the fallen crumbs, stains, ketchup and whatever other sauce spots from sticking to the shelf and cabinet doors?
I followed the same path to covering my kitchen counters with every cleaning supply, brush, rubber gloves, soaps and what have you that was hiding under the sink. I scrubbed and replaced the liner and replaced in a much neater fashion, following my mother’s tip of using a dishpan for cleaners and little shelves for the rest. So far, it’s still neat and tidy.
The next day I stayed on this roll. The Third Son walked into my bedroom and shook his head. My room was covered in stacks of hanging clothes, the bed, the floor, the ottomon and, of course, the floor was also used. I had unloaded every item of clothing out of my closet and did a massive clean out and re-organizing overhaul. It was exhausting but fabulous – in a very nerdy kind of way.
So, why am I sharing all this cleaning craziness? Because it’s that time of year. It’s time for a fresh start and new beginning. We don’t wait until January to get back on the health journey, to begin exercising or making good choices. This is the perfect time to start fresh.
Since I do try to tie in health benefits to most of my posts, there really are benefits for cleaning out, organizing and de-cluttering. A recent Shape article outlined these:
1. IT REDUCES STRESS AND DEPRESSION
Women who described their homes as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were “restful” and “restorative,” according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Come on now, you know it’s true! In fact, just yesterday I was on the phone with my sister-in-law and she was telling me how happy she was. I asked why, and her response was so simple. She was coming home to a clean home. (Thanks to a wonderful woman she has to help her while she works). I can so relate to that and I’m sure most women out there can. I can go away for a wonderful weekend and come home feeling so refreshed and motivated and then walk into a house that has been habitated by all the messy men in my life for a few days and all those wonderful, refreshing feelings fly out the door.
2. IT HELPS YOU EAT BETTER
Studies show that people working in a neat space are twice as likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar for a snack. They are less likely to need the “comfort food” if their environment is organized and does not stress them.
I know for a fact that my newly cleaned out refrigerator will make healthy eating much easier. The fruits and vegetables are prepped and ready to grab and are front and center, visible the minute the door is opened.
3. IT HELPS YOU STICK TO WORKOUTS
“People who set short-term goals, have a plan, and record their progress are more likely to stick with an exercise program than those who show up to the gym and wing it, reports a study in the Journal of Obesity.” It does take some organization to get yourself to the gym, or to rise earlier and get on your workout clothes for that run or walk, or to make it to a class on time.
I have always said it is best to put your workout down in your calendar, just like any other appointment. You are more likely to treat it as one and not blow it off.
4. IT HELPS RELATIONSHIPS
“Happy relationships with your partner and friends are key to warding off depression and disease, but a disorganized life can take a toll on these bonds. “For couples, clutter can create tension and conflict,” Dr. Selhub says.”
I think this goes without saying. In my early days of marriage I spent countless wasted hours helping The Husband look for misplaced items. It drove me absolutely batty. Those were some pretty big battles. These days, when he begins those searches, I quietly and strategically find somewhere else to be . . . Now I spend far too much wasted time trying to find items one of my boys has misplaced. Those are absolutely wasted minutes that could have been used for something much more enjoyable.
5. IT BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY
Having clutter around can be distracting and affect the ability to focus. I recently shared that I could no longer work in my home office and did all my work on my laptop at the kitchen table. The truth was that my office had gotten so messy I just couldn’t get anything done in there. I had a big clean out day there and am now able to get back to my space and get stuff done.
‘Looking at too many things at once overloads your visual cortex and interferes with your brain’s ability to process information, the Journal of Neuroscience reports. De-cluttering your desk will payoff at work, but the benefits don’t stop there. “Often, the greatest barrier to healthy habits is a lack of time,” Dr. Selhub says. “When you’re organized at work, you’re more productive and efficient, which means you’re able to finish at a reasonable time and go home. This leaves you with the time you need to exercise, prepare a healthy meal, relax, and get more sleep.”
6. IT CAN HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
When you are organized you are typically more mindful of what you are putting in your body. Cultivating healthy habits takes thought, planning and organization. If you are on a healthy eating plan you aren’t zipping through the drive-thru at McDonald’s for lunch and dinner. When you are organized you typically take the time to grocery shop, plan healthy meals, prepare the foods and have healthy choices on hand.
Having those healthy choices on hand saves you from so many of the prepackaged, processed options that are readily available when you haven’t taken the time to plan and be organized for your foods.
Credit: Shape Article
Of course, cleaning and organizing are not the only ways to look at starting fresh this September. There are other ways to bring healthy back to your routine and begin the Fall refreshed.
And as the summer winds down here are TWO great recipes for those summertime vegetables:
ENJOY YOUR DAY!