Autumn is a time of change – we move from long summer days to warm, mellow light with a crispness in the air. In the countryside, autumn is a time of departure as flocks of swallows migrate to warmer climes and all the crops are gathered in. But it is also a time of arrival, as geese and swans flock to the UK’s shores with their lively and chaotic banter. While the soil is warm and wet, there are many gardeners who believe that planting in Autumn is the best time of year to establish new plants and get root systems settled before the colder months set in.
Whether you see Autumn as the long farewell or a new beginning, creating a clean and welcoming home for the colder months has positive outcomes for our mental health and wellbeing. But there are far more benefits for us than just a well-ordered personal space.
Live clean. Feel calm. Be happy.
Buddhist thinkers like Thich Nhat Hanh and Shoukei Matsumoto have lots to say about household chores and personal wellbeing. One advantage is that cleaning offers us a time to practice mindfulness. We need to be completely present in the moment to feel fully alive:
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.” Thich Nhat Hanh.
In his book “A Monks Guide to a Clean House and Mind”, the Japanese monk Matsumoto explains how important sweeping and cleaning are to the daily rhythm of the monastery. There are lots of takeaways for us, confirming that decluttering, repair and a deep respect for objects and spaces helps us to a develop a clear and calm mindset.
“All you need is a will to sweep the dust off your heart”, Shoukei Matumoto
Swedish death cleaning sounds depressing but is a gentle way to simplify our lives as we age. By decluttering we can really enjoy the things that matter, leaving our living spaces restful and beautiful. It might even help us come to terms with our own mortality too!
How do we begin positive cleaning?
Start with a small project, like sorting and washing jumpers for winter. Make sure you attend with care to any repairs that are needed. If you can dry your things outside in the aaaawarm autumn sunshine this is ideal – otherwise set up a clothes rack close to an open window. A small project like this can capture all your focus and is very mindful. A larger project could become distracting and may have to be abandoned, so it is always best to concentrate on bite sized tasks.
Accept the power of routine
Acceptance is very important if you are to enjoy your regular housework. Making the occasion pleasurable is a must. If you use Greenscents products you can enjoy our organic fragrance blends – bergamot, peppermint and citrus are all ideal for mornings, whereas lavender is often better reserved for later in the day. Try some meditation music or as the days shorten, light a candle while you work.
Contemplate the importance of objects in your life
Some of our possessions tell the story of our lives and are central to our happiness. While you are cleaning make sure to connect with something that is really important to you. Look very carefully and cherish the memories that this object awakens. Hold the object in your hands until it makes you smile.
Cleaning is good for you!
There is plenty of evidence that cleaning is good for the mind and the body. The problem is we often have negative thoughts about cleaning – it’s boring, its hard work, its pointless. The best thing to do is make a positive start and then the anger and frustration will fade. The never-ending nature of housework – the accumulation of dust, grime and dirty plates is an outcome of life itself and therefore must be a good thing!
Why should we bother with Autumn cleaning?
While there is still sunshine and warm days, it is worth preparing for the shorter darker days of winter.
Here are some Autumn tasks to boost your mood:
- Launder duvets and pillows ready for winter. Dry outside if you can.
- Now that the sun is lower in the sky, it’s a good time to clean windows.
- Remove the last cobwebs and dead insects from corners and ceilings.
- Wash and bag up summer clothes making sure they are completely dry before folding away. Add a lavender bag to keep your clothes fresh for next year.
- Focus on skirting boards. Greenscents all-purpose sanitiser is perfect for this task.
- Clean all touch points to help keep colds & viruses at bay.
- Dig out your diffuser and stock up with anti-bacterial and anti-viral blends with great fragrances.
Greenscents products can help you get the best from your cleaning routines. For more information about the range see https://greenscents.co.uk/.