A post about cleaning. Yes, really

Today I spent most of the afternoon giving our bedroom and en suite bathroom a deep clean. It got me thinking about quite a few things that I thought would be worth sharing here today (stay with me, I promise it will be worth it!).

Creating a soothing bedroom space

First of all, the importance of creating a soothing bedroom space. Not even just while going through cancer, but for everyone, at any point in their lives. A clean, tidy bedroom can have a wonderful effect on the mind – making it feel clean and tidy too – and for me, this is very so. While I may not enjoy the act of deep cleaning my bedroom(!), I absolutely love it when it’s squeaky clean, everything tidy and in its place. Not forgetting freshly washed sheets on the bed – is there really anything better than that at bedtime?

So having a soothing bedroom space while going through cancer treatment couldn’t be more important. If you are starting into chemotherapy soon, take a half day out somewhere in your schedule to get your bedroom ‘patient-ready’. Clean it really well (or have it cleaned for you, if you’re lucky!) – all surfaces dusted and wiped, all clothes and clutter put away, check things are working, e.g. bedside lamps, replace bulbs if necessary, fix things that are broken. Small acts like this help your mind too – you don’t want to curl up in bed with a book one evening after chemo only to find the bulb in your bedside lamp is not working! Put fresh sheets on your bed – depending on your available budget, even consider investing in new bed linen or new pillows – whatever you feel might help you feel more comfortable in your bedroom. Chemo is tough! You deserve whatever it is you feel will help you get through it.

Natasha, one of our Contributors here on Happy Magazine, shared with me recently that during chemo, her mom rented a house near her so that she could be nearby, to help with Natasha’s kids and anything else Natasha might have needed. She described her mom as her ‘hero’ during this time. Having the nearby house came in handy too when her kids got sick – so that Natasha could try avoid germs when her white blood cell counts were down – and her mom would spoil her with fresh, clean bed sheets and a hot water bottle ready for her on chemo days. The two of them would joke that her mom provided her the ‘hotel experience’ during chemo.

Back to today, I got our bedroom sparkling clean. I took my piles and piles of books out of the room – after all – you can only read one book at a time, right? I emptied our windowsills of accumulated clutter and wiped them down. I changed the bed, wiped down our bedside tables (the dust!), put everything away in cupboards and drawers, cleaned my dresser and finally cleaned our en suite bathroom. Just thinking about it all again now makes me feel good. Sigh! What satisfaction can be had from cleaning and a job well done. Now I’m really looking forward to bedtime tonight.

How to enjoy cleaning more

All the while I was cleaning today, I was enjoying the quiet of the house in the afternoon. My little boy was asleep in his bedroom during his afternoon nap. My husband was out. All was still and silent and the cleaning gave me time to think. I thought about this post, the magazine (which is going to print next week!) and so much more. I sorted through the mental clutter in my head. Cleaning can be a great time to think.

On the flip side of this though, sometimes I really don’t want to clean. Or think! On those days I like to put on a podcast while I work – lately my favourites are the Rich Roll podcast, the Marie Forleo podcast, and just this morning I started into the Dr Rangan Chatterjee podcast – a recommendation by Natasha, mentioned above. Listening to a podcast while completing mundane household chores is a great way to work your mind while you get cleaning tasks done – it makes you feel like you’re achieving more than just cleaning, you’re learning too, and there’s always something interesting to take away from a great podcast, no matter what the topic. Plus, I find you take your time with the cleaning and things are really clean when you’re done 😉

The sense of achievement of a job well done

The other thing I really like about cleaning is how visible your achievement is when you’re done. From dirty to clean. Ta-dah! Success. It’s small things like this during periods of difficult challenge in your life that can make you feel better. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. And if you need a little push to get cleaning, check out a cleaning vlog on YouTube like this one – I’m serious! It’ll have you up and cleaning your kitchen in no time at all. They’re very strangely inspiring…

Energy levels – spending them well and recovering

Ah… so after all that cleaning, you might be wondering, yes, I was exhausted! I’m certainly not superhuman yet after my own cancer experience, even though I’d like to be. I finished my treatment back in February/March this year and while my energy levels are massively improved since then, I get tired very quickly with a good bit of physical exertion. I think it’s important to remember the journey you’re on or have been on, and carefully spend your daily energy. By evening time, if you’re irritated and frustrated – you’ve probably overdone it and used up your daily supply. Don’t worry – you’ll feel better in the morning, you’ll have new energy and you can go again (or finish where you left off). Be realistic. Be kind to yourself. I had some great feedback this week about our Cancer Therapist Clare Reed’s article on trying to be superhuman after cancer which was published on Tuesday. I’ve been thinking about it a lot too myself. Writing here every day has most certainly helped bring me back to life but finding a balance with time to recover and rest is very important and a constant challenge for me too.

So all this from a burst of cleaning today! I hope you found this post interesting. Let me know in the comments if anything here resounded with you or if there’s anything you’d like to add.

Happy Sunday everyone.

By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy

1 Comment

  1. Sinead
    November 4, 2018 / 10:18 am

    I completely agree, love the aftermath of a good clean and declutter – it’s like letting out a big sigh. Really worth the effort!
    I also finished treatment in February/March this year and find that most days are pretty ‘normal ‘ but still do have tireder ones, fewer and further apart but they can still surprise you.
    I did do out my bedroom and got new bed linen before my chemotherapy and it did make a difference as you will spend more time there. Also nice for the kids to hop into the bed for a story or watch tv with you so you don’t feel you are cutting yourself off from them by taking to the bed, making sure I was around for them during treatment as a huge concern for me. (I had always been against TVs in bedrooms but made ann exception during chemotherapy! Wrecked but not able to sleep is frustrating so it was great).
    Sorry had wandered off the point there. Thank you Holly, I enjoy the posts but not a great one for posting. Congratulations on getting the magazine to print.
    P.S. just make sure if you’ve gone to all the effort of cleaning that you are the first one in the shower!

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