Slowing down to recenter can often feel unrealistic amid a nurse’s competing priorities. However, cultivating internal and external stability can improve life at the bedside and beyond. A clean home and heart can make it easier for us to navigate day-to-day responsibilities and engage in the love and relaxation we deserve as the day winds down.

What the Research Tells Us

Physical clutter has been associated with dissatisfaction in life, but spring cleaning reduces stress, improves sleep, and even alleviates allergies.

Studies also show that nurses can clear mental and emotional clutter by putting their thoughts down on paper. A group of primary care clinicians reported that weekly journaling had positive effects on their resilience, including autonomy, coping, self-efficacy, and well-being behaviors. Dimitroff et al. found that journaling increased nurses’ job satisfaction and ability to articulate and understand their emotions and decreased symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue.

How to Practice

Clean your home: Identifying your organization barriers is the first step to overcoming them. From there, try to get rid of any items that no longer serve you or bring you joy. Perhaps you need a drastic change, like clearing out all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Or maybe you need to start small by tidying up one corner of one room at a time. Whichever approach you choose, remember to be patient with yourself but stay committed to clearing the clutter.

For nursing students and new graduates, get organized by converting paper documents to electronic (e.g., with a scanning app) and letting go of unnecessary items from school, including:

  • Textbooks more than five years old
  • Notes from specialties you are not working in or interested in pursuing
  • Information on nursing basics like how to take blood pressures

Instead, consult with mentors or institutional resources specific to your current practice and future goals.

Clean your heart: Just as your spring cleaning refreshes your home, use these clutter-based journal prompts to refresh your mind and heart.

  • What item(s) overwhelm(s) you the moment you get home?
  • What are you tolerating right now?
  • What memories or thought patterns do you need to let go of to find peace?
  • What’s preventing you from alleviating your physical and emotional burdens?