Cleaning as Self-Care – zen habits zen habits


By Leo Babauta

The other day, I returned home from a short trip, and immediately unpacked and washed my clothes, putting everything away. It felt nice.

The next morning, I was feeling a bit unsettled. So I started cleaning. I cleaned in the kitchen, outside in the yard, swept the garage. I felt so good.

I’ve come to realize that cleaning, organizing, decluttering … for me, it’s a form of self-care. It helps me feel settled, makes me feel like I’m taking care of my life.

Yes, cleaning and organizing can be overwhelming, and is often avoided. But it doesn’t have to be. Take a small corner to tidy up, and let yourself just enjoy the cleaning. Get lost in it. Feel the niceness of making things nicer.

Yes, there’s always more to do. But that’s a disempowering way to think about it. Why does it matter that there will always be more to do? That just means there’s more self-care available, always. Just do a small portion right now, and enjoy it. A good analogy is that there will always be more tea to drink … but I only need to focus on this single cup of tea, and enjoy it fully.

As you clean, you might feel things getting cleaner. As you organize, you might feel the progression of settledness of things. As you declutter, you might feel the slight liberation with everything you toss out.

And of course, we can extend this self-care of cleaning and organization into every part of our lives — today I worked on organizing my finances. I’ve been fixing little things around the house. This morning I deleted a bunch of apps on my phone, and turned off a lot of notifications, to simplify my phone experience. I also unsubscribed from a bunch of newsletters and started clearing out my email inbox.

You can think of taking a task from your task list as a form of this self-care. One item at a time, taking care of your life.

It can be overwhelming and dreaded … or it can be nourishing and lovely. It’s a choice, and I choose to feel the care that I bring to every sweep of the broom or rake.