What is it with spring? After you finish sniffling and sneezing from the pollen, something seems to happen. As the weather warms, the flowers begin to bloom and the sunshine returns – you begin to feel more invigorated, more energized.

But that’s not all. It might not happen to everyone, but I’m sure it’s not just me. I want to get outdoors. I want to be active, and I want my home to return to the bright and airy retreat it was 7 months ago.

I’m convinced spring cleaning isn’t just a chore that the thermostat reminds us to perform – like changing your smoke alarm battery when Daylight Saving Time begins. We’re not just tidying up and ridding our homes of winter’s stale air because it’s time and frankly getting a little gross. I’m convinced it’s more psychological – and physiological.

As the flowers and trees bloom and the baby birds hatch, it’s like a new beginning. The world is starting fresh. And like them, we too are starting fresh – removing dirt and excess items that are weighing us down, opening our blinds to let in the day’s warm sunlight. Have you ever noticed when you’re finished mopping, dusting and decluttering, you feel refreshed? It’s like your mind is clearer and you breathe a little deeper.

I like to think I made this uber-introspective realization on my own, but truth be told, I searched the internet and found that experts have known this for years. What? Well, it’s validation.

According to an article by Dr. Ralph Ryback in Psychology Today, psychologists in Indiana found that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses. And he says Princeton researchers found women who described their living spaces as “cluttered” or full of “unfinished projects” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.”

There you have it. We don’t just feel compelled to clean this time of year because a neighbor might come by and ask to borrow a cup of sugar, and we might have to awkwardly explain why we have an old recliner in the kitchen. We’re starting fresh.

It’s important to remember, just as you’re starting fresh, so are others. Donate your excess clothing, that recliner and the rug you replaced with a brighter version to Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. The money raised by re-selling your items funds other people’s fresh start – men and women working to change their lives after returning from prison, adults who want a second chance to graduate high school, someone who needs help finding a job.

Happy Spring Cleaning! We’re improving our lives and helping change the lives of others through education, training and employment.