In the spring, many of us start to think about renewal. We see the grass turn green again and the trees bursting with new buds. We get a feeling of excitement as the weather warms up and the days are filled with a little more sunshine. In the spring, renewal seems to be everywhere, and it’s effortless and exciting! In nature, renewal is natural and cyclical.
Renewal also occurs within our bodies. It is vital to our health! Without it, our bodies would wear out much faster. In one day, an adult naturally
sheds about 330 billion cells: that’s about 1% of our body’s cells. While fat and muscle cells typically last 12 to 50 years respectively, some of our body’s cells only last 3 to 120 days.1 We lose these cells because they wear out and it’s their time to go.
Renewal activities are tremendously important in our daily lives. Sleep and food are probably the most significant daily activities that help us feel renewed and revitalized. The better the quality of each of these, the better we feel. Most of us have also found that certain activities renew our energy and our spirit. Some examples include meeting friends, going on a walk, practicing your faith, or if you’re fortunate enough, having a spa day or going on a vacation. Renewal comes in a variety of forms, most of which are enjoyable!
But have you ever thought about the type of renewal that is hard. The type that requires a lot of mental or physical work to get you to a place you want to be. The type of renewal that does not seem natural or exciting or fun. The type of renewal that we don’t often think about, yet many of us have experienced. Have you ever been in a situation where a part of your life was just not working any more, worn out, or even in crisis? You endured whatever it took to get rid of the old and move on toward the new. You knew it was time to let it go! This is psychological renewal and it is a natural part of life too.
We are designed to undergo regular psychological renewal. It transforms us by changing the way we think about and react to certain situations. We can easily see psychological renewal in children as they grow, but also in adults as they progress through the stages of adulthood. Unlike the effortless change-of-seasons, psychological renewal can be tremendously difficult. Some adults experience great personal growth through intentional psychological renewal, while others stumble through the difficult times, not making much renewal progress, or are simply resistant to the whole process.
Psychologist Caroline Shola Arewa describes psychological renewal as the process of identifying what one needs to let go of, followed by what one needs to embrace and implement to grow psychologically.2 In adulthood, psychological renewal is typically intentional and serves a purpose such as growth or change. It involves the questions “what is important in my life?” “What do I need to release?” and “What new habits do I need to create?” The answers to these questions are then integrated into the events that are emerging in one’s life and the ideas that one feels the need to express.
Arewa says that identifying and releasing the unwanted clutter and debris from a person’s mind makes available new energy to be used for new causes. Letting go of old baggage and putting new-found energy into new ideas or projects can transform a person from a state of overwhelm or depression to a state of motivation and exhilaration. Psychological renew may be hard, but it is also beneficial. It can lead to a life well lived. Of course, contemplating this kind of life-changing renewal can be difficult. It usually means hard conversations, mixed emotions, and lots of work building new habits. It might mean letting go of someone who has hurt you deeply or getting rid of someone who has abused you. It might mean wanting to finally be free of addiction. It might mean wanting to leave a career that you’ve invested in heavily but no longer love, or even like. If your priorities have changed and you’re ready to put in the work and move on, then you’re probably ready for a psychological renewal.
Unlike the yearly spring renewal, psychological renewal as an adult is a slow process. It usually doesn’t happen once a year like the seasons. However, it can bring significant, meaningful change to our lives. It is often the reason some people say, “I have no regrets.” It is not easy like the physical renewal of shedding those old body cells, but it is necessary to grow toward a fulfilling life.
If you feel that you need to undergo a psychological renewal, please know that you do not have to do it alone. If you need help, reach out to a trusted friend, support group, or a professional counselor. It will still be a lot of work, but this will help ease the pain and smooth out the bumps along the way!
Please note: This content is meant to be informative and helpful. My background in nursing allows me to provide health and wellness information, but I am not a psychologist or a counselor and this is not meant to be any form of professional counseling advice. This account of renewal is written from a nursing and a human perspective. Always remember, #YouAreNotAlone!
Kim Rockwell, BSN, RN
1 Mark Fischetti, Jen Christiansen. Our Bodies Replace Billions of Cells Every Day. Scientific American. Seen on 2/22/23 at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/our-bodies-replace-billions-of-cells-every-day/
2Caroline Shola Arewa. Psychological Renewal in a Time of Crisis. The Shift Network. Seen on 2/22/23 at https://theshiftnetwork.com/psychological-renewal-time-crisis
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