Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

This year, March 20 was the first official day of spring, which is determined by the spring equinox when the daylight hours are roughly the same as the nighttime hours. After this day, daylight is longer than night. And with each passing day, more sunlight and warmth encourage the growth of plants and flowers that have been dormant during the cold winter months.

This occurrence in nature also applies to life. If you didn’t take the time to rest and regenerate during the winter months, then take a few days to reassess your life and ask yourself why? When you recognize and honor your body’s natural rhythms, you allow your immune system and body constitution to fortify – especially important during this time of COVID-19.

The rollouts of the new coronavirus vaccines have brought to many a collective relief. But you should also know that the power to heal and stay protected against viruses and bacteria lies within your own body’s robust immune system. Your lifestyle, the way you deal with stress, your thoughts and emotions, along with the foods you eat, greatly impact your health and resistance to viruses. After all the turmoil and change that came in 2020, use this time to reset yourself inside and out.

Decluttering and getting rid of objects that you no longer use, or replacing broken or outdated equipment, frees up your space so you can welcome new things into your life. The same goes for your internal space as well; by choosing to keep certain routines and letting go of other outdated practices you can create a more positive energetic shift to enhance your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

I will share practical ideas for your external and internal cleaning. Choose to build and support yourself by clearing out objects, situations or people that detract from you. Your future self — and perhaps your loved ones — will thank you for making this positive impact on your life.

External Spring Cleaning

There are many ways to do an external cleaning of your home. If your tendency is to be a pack rat, then the first step is to make a conscious decision to clean and declutter. However, the best way to motivate yourself mentally is to make a list of how it will benefit you, your family and friends. Until your mind can see 20 or more benefits of spring cleaning and decluttering, you will likely experience internal resistance and sabotage yourself.

Next, set a date and block out time to do your cleaning. If you don’t create the space or time and designate when to clean, other “priorities” will creep up out of nowhere, preventing you from cleaning.

Alice Inoue, chief happiness officer of Happiness U and feng shui expert, suggests that if you don’t know where to start your spring cleaning, begin from any corner of any room. According to Inoue, energy disperses to the corners of a house and of its rooms, so by cleaning your house’s corners first, you free up stuck energy. This will then energize you to clean other parts of the house. Examples could be as easy as vacuuming or wiping down a corner of the house or tidying up books.

Another useful approach is to start small by beautifying a special area or table that will inspire you to clean more. Other recommendations are to clean where you spend the most time; clean the bathroom and clear out your closets of any unworn, worn-out, outdated or ill-fitting clothes.

Tidying expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method™ encourages yet a different approach –“tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.” Her focus is on addressing each individual item in a systematic way, but ultimately to keep only those things that put a smile on your face and bring you joy.  Otherwise anything in your environment that conjures up painful memories need to be thanked and let go.

The main theme from both experts is to create an environment that supports you mentally and emotionally.

Internal Spring Cleaning

Have you ever noticed that your external environment mirrors your internal environment and vice versa? That’s why to begin a spring cleaning of your living area begins with first identifying and knowing the benefits of decluttering and beautifying your space. My patients — who have started changing their lives by putting themselves first and trusting themselves more — shared stories of feeling a deep need to clean their rooms and houses, to declutter past mementos to which they no longer felt connected. They reported on how decluttering and getting rid of things they have held on to for years became effortless and life-changing.

I was born at the tail end of the Rat year and thus have a tendency to hoard and battle with spring-cleaning. However, when I get fed up with seeing a mess around me, I start to clean up my living space and literally feel this infusion of energy and vitality that inspires me in other areas of my life. So, I call my strategy the “tipping-clearing point.” I build up the mess and disorder to the point where I can no longer stand it, and the built-up chaos fuels my determination to start decluttering not only externally but internally as well. Over the years I recognized that this might not be the best way to clean, so I am slowly but surely adopting other useful decluttering habits.

Besides the external clearing, the COVID-19 pandemic also gave you the power to choose with whom you wanted to associate and connect. Just by stating, “I don’t feel too good right now,” you gave the perfect prompt for a friend or loved one to respond, “Oh, just take care of yourself, and we can catch up later.”

However, as we move into Tier 3 and society is opening up more, that excuse will no longer be as effective. This is where you can take the time to list out and prioritize all the tasks, supposed obligations and people with whom you connect. A list helps you to see what things and which people are really important in your life and which ones drain your energy and vitality. The more you choose to take care of yourself, the more energy and inspiration you can give to your loved ones, job and the greater community.

The way to prioritize yourself is, once again, by listing benefits of taking action; for those relationships that no longer work for you, write out how it would benefit the other person or loved one, if you were to lessen (or maybe even discontinue) your connection to them. Until your mind can see at least 20 benefits for that person with whom you choose to no longer associate, you will continue to connect and feel drained energetically.

In conclusion, don’t let spring cleaning feel like a “have to,” but shift it into a “want to.”  There are many strategies to clean but choosing the one that resonates with you will make it fun and freeing. Know that you can start with either the external or internal cleaning, but also that one inevitably leads to the other. However, if you do both at the same time, you give yourself a greater chance to succeed in creating an environment that is harmonious from the inside out.

Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (alohachiro.biz), in Mänoa valley, O’ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.


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