By Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.

When the smell of spring is in the air, it can only mean one thing. No, not the spring sale at Neiman Marcus. Instead, for many of us, the end of winter ignites a passion for cleaning. But along with hauling old furniture and clothing to the curb, let’s take a look at our emotional well-being and the relationship we have with others.

So, in the spirit of renewal, here are four areas where we can benefit from some mental and emotional spring cleaning. Don’t miss the expert relationship advice below!

Expert Relationship Advice for Spring Cleaning

1. Examine relationships: It’s time to address the negative feelings that may be lingering with others. “Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive areas of your life,” says Julie Hanks, PhD, LCSW.

This same belief also applies to people who may have a negative influence on your ability to feel good about yourself. “Feel good about who you are, how you have grown, and what you offer in your personal and professional relationships,” says Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD. “If you have trouble remembering your own value, then think about what you would say to a family member or close friend who wanted to return to a toxic relationship.” Bernstein says thinking about how you may value or advise someone else can help you treasure yourself and move on.

Related Link: Expert Relationship Advice: Four Reasons Going Outside of Your Comfort Zone is a Good Idea

2. Find your passion: There’s doing things you enjoy, and then, there’s doing things about which you are passionate. “I’ve always said that passion is my drug of choice,” says Steve Sims, a professional ultimate experience concierge, founder of Bluefish, and author of Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen. “I can get further with passion than I can with any amount of money in the world. Passion is my secret weapon.”

Hey, we all have dreams: We can visualize our dream vacation, career, life experience, celebrity encounter, or life partner. But Sims often encounters clients who are afraid to realize those dreams or passions. “One of my first questions for clients is how far they are willing to go to make this passion — this experience — truly unforgettable.” If you are ready to uncover your passion, three of Sims’ many life lessons are to never underestimate the power of simplicity, to ask yourself why this matters to you, and to realize that nothing is ever going to happen if it benefits only you. “Work for win-win every time,” Sims says.

3. Make physical health a priority: Remember that New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds? Fewer than 10 percent of us actually achieved that goal. However, it’s never too late to adopt healthy lifestyle choices. With the warmer weather and more hours of sunlight, outdoor activities and exercise are easier. And research shows that exercise is not only good for your body but that the brain gets a healthy boost as well. “Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety,” says a published article from Walden University. “Physical activity kicks up endorphin levels, the body’s famous ‘feel good’ chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria.”

Experts say even moderate weekly exercise can improve depression and anxiety. In some cases, doctors recommended an exercise regimen for these conditions before turning to medication, which is particularly good for older adults who are generally more susceptible to depression. “Clinical depression is a major concern for those of us working in healthcare since it is so common with older adults,” says Derek R. Orme of Mission Hills Post Acute Care. “Healthcare providers and loved ones focus on the physical needs of patients, but we also need to make sure their emotional needs are addressed.”

Related Link: Expert Relationship Advice: Six Ways to Keep Work & Life Demands in Balance

4. Declutter: Whether it’s clearing out stuff in the closet, garage, or your married and gone son’s bedroom, removing the physical clutter from your surroundings is essential for your mental health. “Clutter can increase stress by distracting us and overwhelming our senses with extraneous stimuli — toppling piles and unsightly messes as well as associated smells and noises,” says Jonathan Fader, PhD.

Organizing expert Lauren Piro says that when facing a cluttered space, we should ask ourselves tough questions like, “Is this item enhancing my life?” or “Is this something I’ll want my children to see one day?” Sometimes, forcing yourself to defend owning an item can help gain a realistic perspective on the true value of that item. Keep in mind that you don’t have to clear the area to gain inner peace. “Take comfort in knowing that your home and desk do not have to be pristine for optimal living and working,” says Fader. “The key is finding what environment is most efficient and productive for you.”

Now is the time for some personal spring cleaning. By tending to relationships, our health, passions, and the physical clutter that surrounds us, we are on the road to authentic rejuvenation and renewal.

For more information about and articles by our relationship expert Dr. Amy Osmond Cook, click here.