Child and Father Cleaning Countertop

Primary Care, News | one month ago

Spring-Clean Your Health

Do you have spring fever? Channel that energy into spring-cleaning and boost your physical and mental health. Follow our six tips for prioritizing your cleaning tasks.

Winter is over, and the days are getting longer. Plants are growing, and flowers are blooming. Spring is a time of renewed energy and increased activity, including cleaning.

For many, springtime means: “Out with the old, in with the new.” It’s a perfect opportunity to clean your home and get rid of items you’re not using anymore.

In general, most people feel better in a fresh, clean environment. But can spring-cleaning boost your physical and mental health?

Dr. Toni Melville with Atrium Health Primary Care Dilworth Family Medicine discusses the health benefits of spring-cleaning and prioritizes your cleaning tasks. She also explains how spring is the perfect time to improve your diet and visit your primary care doctor.

Physical and mental health benefits

Spring-cleaning benefits your physical health in several ways. For example, it helps you remove the dust and dander that builds up in the home during the winter months. Since most people are allergic to dust and pollen, cleaning is an effective method for minimizing allergens in the home.

Additionally, cleaning supports an active lifestyle and increases the safety of your home. If you’re running around the house cleaning, you’re getting physical exercise and burning calories. When you organize your belongings, you’ll be less likely to trip and fall, reducing your risk of injury.

Spring-cleaning also provides mental health benefits. Melville says that many of her patients categorize cleaning as a mindless activity that can be both therapeutic and relaxing. When your home environment is clean, it’s easier to stay mentally focused and organized.

“By getting rid of unused, unwanted items, spring-cleaning can give you a blank slate for the rest of the year,” says Melville. “It can give you something positive to look forward to and an opportunity to improve your surroundings.”

Spring-cleaning checklist

Ready to get started? Here are some important tasks to include in your spring-cleaning checklist: 

  1. Clean or replace filters. Many people don’t realize how much dust, dirt and mold collect in air filters. Change your furnace air filter every three months. Your dishwasher and washing machine also have filters that need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. Cleaning the filter in your washing machine will help get your clothes cleaner and make them last longer. Dirty washing machine filters often contain mold, an allergen that commonly causes respiratory issues.
  2. Wash bedding. This includes duvet covers and pillows. Dust mites and other allergens tend to collect in bedding. Use hot water to kill any dust mites that might be living in your bedding.
  3. Vacuum often. Vacuum multiple times per week to keep up with the dust and dirt that gets tracked indoors.
  4. Clean windows. As the weather warms up, you’re more likely to open your windows to let in some fresh air. Since dust and dirt accumulate on the window screen and sill, washing these areas will prevent dust and dirt from blowing into your home.
  5. Declutter and organize. If you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, it’s time to pitch it or donate it. Giving your closets, cubbies, pantries and drawers a reset will help you stay organized throughout the rest of the year.
  6. Don’t forget outdoor cleaning. Warmer weather and increased daylight make it easier to pressure-wash your home’s exterior, patio, porch and driveway. You also have more opportunities to clean up yard waste and mulch beds.

Improve your diet and fitness routine

When you clean up one area of your life, it may motivate you to improve in other areas. For example, spring-cleaning may inspire you to eat healthier and get back on track with your fitness goals, especially if you struggled to keep your New Year’s resolutions. Warmer weather and longer days make it easier to get physical activity outdoors. Try walking, running or biking your favorite park trail.

Spring is an excellent time to buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables. Whether you get them at the grocery store or a local farmer’s market, in-season produce is cheaper than out-of-season produce. Local produce often tastes better than imported produce because it’s fresher and grown with fewer pesticides and preservatives. Buying local fruits and vegetables helps support the local economy. You may use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at the farmer’s market.

Spring marks the beginning of the growing season, making it a great time to plant a garden. In Charlotte, crops such as tomatoes, squash and peppers are quite popular. During harvest season, you’ll find it easier to increase your produce consumption.

“It’s very satisfying to enjoy the fruits of your labor,” notes Melville. “Plus, you know exactly what’s been put in your food.”

Visit your primary care doctor

Spring is the ideal season to schedule your annual exam with your primary care doctor. This wellness visit includes a physical checkup and lab work to verify that your health is on track. Many health insurance companies reward patients for keeping up with their annual exams. Incentives may include gift certificates or money deposited into an HSA account. Melville recommends scheduling the appointment early in the year in case it gets rescheduled due to vacations or unexpected events.

With so many plants and flowers in bloom, allergies tend to be a common spring health concern. Many patients experience spring allergy symptoms, including congestion, sneezing and itchy eyes and throat.

“Your family doctor can help you so you don’t have to suffer,” explains Melville. “They can prescribe antihistamines that alleviate these symptoms and allow you to maintain an active spring schedule.”       

During your annual exam, your doctor will remind you about the importance of drinking plenty of water, getting sufficient sleep and exercising regularly. These general wellness tips are proven to help prevent conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Your doctor may also remind you to wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) if you’re going to be outdoors for more than 15 minutes. This helps prevent sun damage to your skin.

Start small

While many people find the idea of spring-cleaning exhilarating, some may struggle to find the motivation needed to tackle cleaning projects. They may find the amount of work overwhelming and lose hope in their ability to succeed.

“It’s never too late to get started,” Melville says. “Begin with something small, like cleaning your bedding, and go from there. Allow each accomplishment to propel you on to the next.”

As the region's most preferred health care provider, Atrium Health Primary Care is making primary care easier and better for you and your family. Call us 24/7 at 1-844-235-6997 or make an appointment online.