March 20 is the first day of Spring 2021, which brings to mind the long-honored tradition of “spring cleaning.” Many people use the warmer weather as inspiration to throw open the windows and begin a deep cleansing of their homes. Deep cleaning tasks avoided for months, like cleaning out contents of drawers, closets, and underneath the bed, help organize the house and give a renewed sense of order in people’s lives.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be restricted solely to cleaning the house. It can be applied to mental health and addiction, too. Spring affords an excellent opportunity to take stock of and clean out old belief systems that hold a young person back. Spring is a time to replace these beliefs with newer, more productive ones.
Take Stock of Your Self-Esteem
Often, when adolescents or young adults begin a treatment program, they lack a positive view of themselves. If a person doesn’t make a habit of monitoring their self-views and work to keep them elevated, they can lose the ground they gained during treatment. Low self-esteem holds many people back in several areas of their sobriety and management of mental illness. Cleaning out any negative thoughts that have set up camp in their head is essential.
To monitor where your self-esteem level is, ask yourself what situations tend to trigger negative feelings. Common culprits include work, school, family situations, and romantic relationships. Journal about how you react to each situation and what negative thoughts come up that you can challenge. Work on erasing negative assumptions and “all-or-nothing” thinking, such as “I always fail when I try to do this” or “If this doesn’t work out, I will have messed up everything forever.” Differentiate between feelings and facts. You may feel that a task is impossible; however, this doesn’t mean that you cannot achieve your desired outcome.
Review Your Mental Health Goals and Accomplishments
Dealing with mental health diagnoses requires daily action. It is imperative to review what goals you and your treatment professionals set and see where you stand. These goals might include:
- One-on-one therapy sessions
- Participating in group meetings
- Taking any prescribed medications
Ensure that being “cooped up” during the colder climate and pandemic has not contributed to being less diligent about maintaining these essential tasks.
If you have utilized tasks or approaches to manage your mental health that no longer work, “spring clean” those out and restock with ones that work now. You can discuss your options with a member of your treatment team. You can also do research online and read books focused on general mental health topics or your specific diagnosis. Often a new, streamlined approach helps a person feel more inspired as they move into the new season of recovery. Make sure you give yourself credit for all you have accomplished.
Start Envisioning How Your Future Will Look
A young person dealing with mental health and addiction issues may have trouble seeing their future as bright and full of possibilities. Remind yourself that you do not need to have every plan sorted out right now. Moving forward requires making individual decisions about things like school and career options. If you are still in high school, talk to your school’s counselor about college choices. If you have certain universities in mind, check their websites to see the degrees offered. If you are not yet sure what field you would like to study, research can offer ideas and inspiration.
If you have a general interest, like photography, teaching, or law enforcement, talk to school counselors or treatment team members. Look to anyone you know working in that field for guidance. Brainstorm what degrees would allow you to learn about this field to build a career. Remember that even if you have some college classes under your belt, you can always change direction and work towards a career path that suits the new you.
Planting a Spring Garden
While most gardens bring to mind things like flowers and herbs, it is possible to plant a mental garden related to your future. Think about things you would like to come to fruition that take time to grow. It might be having a better relationship with a family member. You can begin by having a calm, sit-down conversation with them to discuss ways the two of you can better understand each other and become closer.
You might be interested in looking for new friends. As the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widely distributed and society begins to reopen, more options for socializing will open up. Look around for groups centered around an interest or hobby you enjoy. Try volunteer work focused on something you have an interest in, such as outdoor activities or animals. Building a new circle of friends or social activities takes time. Planning for fun with our friends in the spring can make for a meaningful summer and year ahead.
Spring cleaning isn’t just about going through closets and cleaning behind the refrigerator. It can be adapted to include ways to take stock of where you are in handling mental health, addiction issues, and general life goals. After a winter full of cold weather and pandemic-related isolation, spring affords an opportunity to review where you are now and plan for growth over the rest of the year. Sustain Recovery can help adolescents and young adults begin their spring cleaning with various programs designed to treat youth who need individualized attention. We offer residential treatment that includes schooling and aftercare programs. Our approaches include clinical interventions, 12-step recovery, and other programs that are well-suited for either a client new to recovery or a person who has been “treatment-resistant” in the past. Call us now at our Southern California location to find out how we can help you or your loved one get on the path to wellness and a bright future! (949) 407-9052