Ever feel like you need to book your head in for a quick oil change and new spark plugs to keep it from overheating and breaking down on the highway? If only de-junking our brains was so easy; simply replace a few filters, top up the old power-steering fluid and we’d be good to go.
We unwittingly collect mental junk and clutter as we go about our super-busy days, but it can really Slow. Us. Down. When the roar gets so loud you can barely hear yourself think, it’s time to identify that junk, sort through it, get rid of what’s holding you back and put the rest into neat, manageable piles. In doing so, you free up valuable headspace for the truly important stuff; peace and calm can move in where chaos once reigned. Without so much brain clutter waiting to trip you up at every turn, you can become a more productive, happier and all-round healthier soul.
Try the following strategies to calm your over-busy brain and buy back your peace of mind.
Tame your to-do list in order of priority
A to-do list is essential. If you don’t have one, make one. It should be an actual list, not just a mental one. When you feel overwhelmed, lists help by consolidating scattered thoughts and tasks. Prioritise your list. What needs attention now, what can be relegated to the bottom or forgotten about altogether? Tackle the critical things first, especially those you least want to do; once they are done and dusted they are no longer taking up worry space in your brain. Refresh your list at least daily.
Clean up your actual clutter
We know we said this wasn’t about your closets but actually, it is a little bit. And your desk, coffee table, kitchen counter, or any other space that’s filled with piles of clutter and junk. Whether it’s last week’s laundry or last night’s dishes, tidying up your physical space greatly encourages and improves mental clarity. It will also help you more readily locate all that lost stuff!
Rethink your thinking
Those little voices inside our heads telling us we are never quite good enough are the worst kind of mental junk. Pay close attention to unhelpful negative self-talk and send it packing.
Breathe in, breathe out
Several times each day, literally stop what you’re doing and pause to take a few long, slow, deep breaths. Deliberately fill your lungs with air and feel your chest rise and fall. This forces your mind to slow down and eases feelings of panic and anxiety that shallow breathing can induce.
Stretch, move, and walk
Sitting hunched over a desk beavering away for hours on end is harmful to both mind and body. Get up, do a few gentle stretches, then head outside for a walk to help clear the cobwebs.
Eat well, sleep well, live well
Our minds and bodies are not two separate entities; each relies on the other for good health. A well-nourished, well- rested body feeds your mind and vice versa.
Less screen time is a good time
Our TVs, tablets and phones can fill our heads with so much useless noise and clutter. We tell ourselves we are relaxing by watching TV or engaging in social media, but are we really? It’s important to make the distinction and switch off every now and then, especially before bed.
You can’t please everyone
Not possible, so stop tying yourself in knots. As they say, put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others! Also, when you really can’t fit another thing into your schedule, or you just don’t want to, it’s okay to say no.
Living in the future?
A racing brain that worries too much about what might happen one day in the future prevents us from appreciating the good right under our noses. It’s great to plan ahead, but we should take care not to postpone joy until each T is crossed and every I is dotted. Practise clearing your mind and focusing on the present.