6 Ways To Diminish Mental Clutter
In my previous post we covered clutter and how it affects us physically, emotionally and mentally. This week, I’m diving more into its non-physical effects and the importance of keeping a clean “mental closet”.
There’s nothing as daunting as being unable to keep up with the voices in our head. We wake up in the morning, perform our morning routines. Let the dogs out, feed the cat, check our phones. We sift through our emails, maybe get updated on the news. There’s a swarm of things that have taken place before we’ve managed to get dressed or sip our morning cup of coffee. Social media demands our attention. We think about what we’re going to have for breakfast and/ or feed the kids. Hope that the road isn’t hectic today to work. We head into traffic, perhaps silently curse at the line we have to wait in but can’t avoid.
And in to our office building we go. A whole string of new things begin. Worries, incomplete to-do lists, fears, concerns, excitement about tonight, that email we forgot to send yesterday, that harsh conversation leaving you with a bit of regret, a promotion or raise on its way. These all amount to a mental traffic jam. By 4pm we’re burnt out and just want to kick our shoes off and hibernate. Mental clutter is the beautiful mess that spins in different directions and keeps us off center and unfocused while life is going on, asking us to keep up.
Below are six things we can begin to focus on to sift through the mental noise and gain better clarity in a conscious and organized way:
Clean up your physical environment
Yes, we touched on this point before, but a clean environment encourages a clear mind. So, again, start with your physical space. Does it feel good to you? Does it promote warm or comfortable feelings? Can you say you’re proud of the space you’re in? If not, how can you beautify it to feel cozy, neat and playful?
Release the past
Mind clutter is often related to the past. Our minds often loop back to moments or things that no longer exist. While we put things on replay, they’re taking up a tremendous amount of space in our heads. Our past is not just a memory played over and over again. It’s like a large filing room filled with copious amounts of files and albums. Some thick, some heavy, some light, some we don’t want to peek into. But almost every single one is tied to an emotion.
Choose what good to hold onto. A great way to do this is through silent meditation. Imagine a mental broom sweeping away the bad events that cause you to feel stuck and unclear in where you want to go. Each time a bad, heavy or negative memory swings by, imagine the broom gently sweeping it away. Mentally throw away the bad albums. Dust off the files that bring you peace, and let go of what doesn’t.
A lot of what mental clutter is, is holding on to hopes and what could been. We hold onto the hopes we’ll fit into that outfit again. Hope she’ll forgive us. Hope we’ll find a certain antidote to our joy. But once we let go of all the stuff we’re letting hold our minds hostage, we begin to free up a lot of mind space and grant good future prospects to flow in, because it means we’ve created a space for something new.
Have a dedicated parking lot
If you’re anything like me, you’re shopping for groceries or in the midst of a blog when your next brain dump streams in. Now, given the moment you can’t exactly stop everything and get on it, but you can park it off somewhere you’ll find it later. This method means you don’t have to think of 100 ways, “I’m going to remember this later,” stressing that you’ll forget by the time you hit the pay counter.
Google Keep works very well for notes you want to remember. Sometimes if I’m strolling down the aisle, I don’t want to multitask and jot things down on my phone. So, I found that a great way to get things down quicker with a voice recorder. Information is stored on your mobile and ready for when you’re ready to access it. Your job in that moment is to continue with what you were doing, knowing securely that your information and ideas are in a safe place.
Do some research and see which Notes or Voice Recorder apps you best prefer for whatever ideas are swimming in that mind of yours. Get it on to paper if you can.
Get out (literally)
Nature offers a fresh perspective to life. It’s a natural stress reducer, allowing you to think clearer, and offers inviting feelings. When you’re feeling clogged up, go outside and just be. Take a few deep breaths and notice your surroundings. Look at five things and name them. “Tree.” Breathe. “Bench.” Breathe. “Squirrel.” You catch my drift? Don’t forget to breathe. You may ask, “But that’s just bringing more to my thoughts.” Not necessarily. When you’re calling on things, you’re going out of your normal thought process and being mindful of what is.
The art of calling things out like this brings you back to the present moment, here and now, as opposed to the many places you may mentally or emotionally be. Cooking dinner in one scene, fighting the kids to brush their teeth in the next. Nature is a natural elixir. It heals. It solves. Nature provides a cleansing we cannot explain, yet experience. A feeling of ease in a subtle, yet kind way. This is a great place to be when your mind is all over.
Eat and sleep
Good sleep is not something up for negotiation anymore. We all know the effects of having an unhealthy lifestyle results in sleep deprivation and fatigue. Same goes for eating healthy. When the mind is not at it’s optimal health, we are unable to think clearly and perform well. Let alone, make good decisions. Good rest and diet makes you a warrior for your day and eliminates the fatigue that is related to lack of rest.
We’re also able to think clearer and sift through the mental clutter we’ve been holding on to when we weren’t operating at full capacity. Drink enough fluids to keep the brain hydrated, and get enough shut eye.
One thing at a time
To-do lists are great, but they can be an endless cycle that leads to nowhere. There will always be another thing to do, and not having an idea of where to begin is stressful and can cause mental confusion, let alone anxiety. So, minimize your to-do’s by making them bite-sized and doable. Only you can decide whether something will take a minute of your time or a day.
By setting tasks with achievable timelines we set ourselves up for winning. Make sure not to put more than six things on your daily to-do list. Too much can lead to overwhelm, which leads to anxiety, which possibly results in you spinning and nothing getting achieved. So, one thing at a time. It keeps your mind focused and you fresh. We also want to set priorities. Then your job is to decide how you’re going to execute, maintain and handle those things.
When our thoughts have a place to go, we feel light, we feel good, able to focus and are on top of things. The more we learn to be present, the better decisions we can make. It’s really as simple as being intentional about what’s important and keeping a well nourished mind.
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