You know that horrible stage of decluttering, when you've emptied the kitchen cupboards and there's piles of stuff everywhere you look? As you assess the chaos of your clutter you feel overwhelmed by your possessions and you maybe even regret buying the stuff in the first place. Yet slowly but surely you sort the myriad items into categories - throw, donate, sell or consider - and after a few hours of hard work they are ready to leave your house.
The bagged up items sit waiting in your hallway or car boot ready to leave your life. You can see how much unnecessary stuff you have eliminated from your clear out and feeling lighter and freer you can enjoy your more spacious home. This is physical clutter and is fairly easy to deal with if you take it one step at a time.
But what about your mental clutter - could you go about clearing your mind in the same way? The human brain is complex and not so easily unravelled as a drawer of clutter. Giving your head a good declutter isn't so easy, but it can be done. Here's how to start.
Baby steps to clearing your mind
- Write a list. Thoughts and worries can go round and round in our heads. Write them down and you'll be able to see things more clearly and begin to act upon them sooner.
- Focus and prioritise. Are you always late for deadlines or constantly running out of time? Maybe you get distracted easily. Consider the most important items on your to do list and focus on these first. Breakdown a big project into smaller tasks with specified time limits to make it more manageable. Take your time, ditch the multi-tasking approach and concentrate on getting something important done well.
- Motivation. If you are a procrastinator try to develop discipline to get through those difficult jobs. Do the hardest/worst jobs on your to do list first. Dream up a list of small treats to reward yourself once you've got through some dreaded tasks: a nice bath, a coffee, or seeing a friend.
- Tell your mind to STOP. Try and be aware of the internal negative chatter in your head. If negative thoughts keep creeping in tell them to STOP. This is hard but it does work. Repeat a positive mantra to yourself instead.
- Get into flow. If your mind is buzzing, stop over thinking and get physical instead. Attack a pile of ironing, clear out a cupboard or conquer that overgrown bush in the garden. You'll be so absorbed in the physical task your mind will switch off from your worries and you'll feel more refreshed afterwards.
- Accept you're not perfect. Think through all the negative situations of the last few months: angry words, negative feelings, hurt, regrets and mistakes you've made. Accept that they're in the past, throw them out and make space in your life for positive situations. Think about your recent achievements as well as your mistakes and try and build upon them. Sometimes good enough is a healthier approach to getting things done than perfection.
- Switch off. There are different ways of relaxing but try to find an activity that will soothe your stressed mind rather than overloading it. Get outside and notice the beauty of nature, take some gentle exercise, try being still and concentrating on your breathing, listen to some peaceful music, get an early night or or find someone to give you a massage.
- Make new goals. To move forward to becoming a better you set yourself some mini goals. Reward yourself when you achieve them.
- Connect. Talk through your problems with someone you trust. Be honest about your problems with others - people admire those who've overcome problems in the past. Read a self-help book or a good biography of someone you admire.
- Sleep on it. Sometimes you just need to put your problems on hold for a while. What seemed problematic the night before can seem less difficult the morning after. Give yourself time out occasionally.
- Be your own best friend. We judge ourselves more critically than others. Treat yourself with kindness just as you treat your friends.
- Laugh. Sometimes the best solution to problems is not to take everything so seriously. Watch a funny film or spend time with someone who makes you laugh. This can help to lift your mood and strengthen your ability to deal with obstacles.
These are just a few ways to get you started with clearing your mind. Focusing on your inner self can leave you feeling energised and freer in just the same way as a good wardrobe clear out.
How do you deal with a cluttered mind?
Have a good week.
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