Finals week is here, and for a lot of us this means eternal suffering, a sudden shortage of food and sleep, and maybe even a little bit of spontaneous prayer (to every deity known to man. Hey, we aren’t picky).
But while our heads are stuck on numbers, scientific terminology, theorists, or final performances, we sometimes fail to acknowledge that the best thing to do for finals week is to take a brief step away from the work and focus on something else. Pick your pleasure; read a book that you love (and don’t have to write a paper on), or go for a long walk somewhere, or settle in and get lost in a show, or a game, or some music. Just try to let go for a little while, and you’ll find your frazzled nerves shifting back into place.
My personal poison is a little different from those. I’m personally advocating for spring cleaning being the point of focus. Like many of you, I’ve been completely shot all week from presentations, papers, and exponentially increasing course loads. So I was resting on my bed, trying to get my head back in shape, taking a moment to meditate and let my mind free, when I realized it wasn’t working. I still felt bottled up and stressed in an environment that I had made specifically as a sanctuary or a place to detox.
So what’s a person to do? I looked around my room and decided I needed to spring clean it. All of it. I whipped out the duster and the glass cleaner, tugged the vacuum and mop upstairs (I have wooden floors), put on an 80s playlist, and got to work.
There was nothing in the world that was better for me. As I opened the window and dusted the room, listening to Lionel Ritchie croon about how I was all he ever wanted, I felt like I was personally cleansing myself. So much of the negative energy I had trapped inside myself was sucked away from the corners of my room, and as I reorganized everything, shifting furniture around and stacking books on their proper shelves, I felt as if I was reorganizing my brain. Everything fell remarkably into place.
The cathartic reaction I had to cleaning wasn’t due to some placebo effect. According to Huffington Post, cleaning and maintaining a clean space are scientifically linked to health benefits, such as increased physical activity and increased mental and physical health. Even just airing out a room—which is paramount to spring cleaning—can detox the environment, allowing the stale air trapped inside all winter to be replaced with fresh air. Cleaning the floors gets rid of a layer of grime, which helps your feet breathe (which is important, believe me). One of the cleaning products I used smells of lavender, one of the healing herbs with the most versatile uses and benefits, including helping reduce insomnia and help ease depression, according to Reader's Digest. Dusting, while covering you in dust, rids the environment of allergens, which could detriment your health as well. Laundering your sheets and bedding and fluffing your pillows leads to a better night’s sleep, and smells nice to boot!
Even how you clean can positively affect you. That 80s playlist I was listening to incited a release of endorphins, the chemical responsible for happiness, in my brain. According to Reader’s Digest,those endorphins flooded my system simply because that playlist was full songs I enjoyed. According to Healthy Living, there’s also a link between happiness and dancing, especially when someone “dances like no one’s watching.” So when Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” came on and I began dancing with my mop, even more endorphins were released, and I got some exercise in as well.
So what does all this mean for finals week? If you want to loosen up and feel accomplished while also getting some health benefits free of charge, then I’d suggest throwing open the windows, putting on that favorite playlist, and getting to work overhauling your room! There is nothing more satisfying—spiritually, physically, and mentally—than making your home base feel good as new.