By Julia Phillips When you think of spring cleaning, certain things like scrubbing your oven may cross your mind, but cleaning your brain probably isn’t one of them. Have you ever thought of doing a mental spring clean? Freshman Kate Pearson had never heard of this idea before, but thinks it’s similar to the idea of “out with the old and in with the new.” “You would clear all the clutter and distractions around you and clear your mind of all the old,” Pearson said. A seasonal transition or the start of a new quarter can be used as a time to refresh yourself mentally and take a break. Freshman Amber Reeder started journaling this year as a way to keep her mind refreshed. “[I write about] anything I think is good enough to write about. [Journaling] helps put my thoughts down and express what I’m feeling, like happy or sad,” Reeder said. Shari Robinson, director of Western’s counseling center, said journaling is good way to increase your self-awareness or insight, and that it’s a good way to work through something in your life. “I think it’s a great opportunity and reminder to be intentional and purposeful about engaging in activities that are going to help you live a balanced lifestyle,” Robinson said. “It’ll optimize your life in terms of your own mental and emotional health and well-being.” One thing Robinson suggests students could do for a mental spring cleaning is mindfulness meditation, or taking quiet time for yourself. “It’s one way to be quiet, be still, be present and be in the moment and not engage in multitasking,” Robinson said. “It’s not uncommon to see students walking across campus with their earbuds in their head listening to something, on their phones.” Robinson also suggests students let go of grudges they’re holding onto as a way of decluttering their mind. “If you have things that you’re harboring that are negative or where a person has wronged or hurt you, in the end, if you’re holding in all that negativity, you’re hurting yourself over the long run,” Robinson said. “If I am angry with you and I walk around with that anger for weeks or months, maybe years, it can become toxic and negative.” Robinson suggests students create their own plan to deal with stress in their life. Robinson said our lives are like a pizza. There are five slices of the pizza making up the whole pizza, which is the whole person. Each slice represents one part of someone’s life. One slice represents mental care, another represents emotional, spiritual, physical and social self. Robinson said when our lives become disproportionate, that’s when we’re out of balance. When we’re out of balance is when we feel stress, anxiety and tension. The ultimate goal of stress management, or mental spring cleaning, is not to avoid the stress, Robinson said, but to learn to manage the stress so you don’t get overwhelmed and can stay in control. The Associated Students Productions offers free yoga classes every Wednesday as a way for students to clear their minds.