Clear mental clutter (photo: freepixels.com)
Mental clutter. We all have it. Our busy modern life creates it. Stress, worries, and too much going on in our relationships, careers, calendars, and home life can create mental clutter. Mental clutter can weigh us down as much, if not more, than our physical clutter. Here are twelve tips for mental clutter clearing.
1. Perspective. Consciously make an effort to keep your perspective when you are worrying about something. Think about all the things that won't change if the event happens. And, consider a thought my then 99-year-old grandfather shared: "Most of the bad things that we worry about happening don't happen. We expend a lot of time and energy worrying about things that don't happen."
2. See past the date or event you are stressing about. The world and your life won't end on that date. There will still be family members, good stuff, and haircuts after that date. Hold that thought when you are worried about something upcoming.
3. Embrace the issue. If something is nibbling away at the edges of your mind and causing stress, bring it front and center for a while (maybe 10 to 30 minutes) and focus totally and exclusivel on it. Sometimes a frontal assualt on a nagging issue helps to take away its power. You could contemplate it or write about it.
4. Separate the feelings from the reality. The feeling may be awful, but it is just a feeling. You are in the driver's seat and control how you act or don't act on that feeling. Reality and the feeling you have about it are not the same. Feelings just are. Feelings come and go.
5. Write it down. When you are feeling overwhelmed and things you need to take care of are falling in and out of your head, it is helpful to put them on paper. Get them out of your head. Write them on an ongoing prioritized to-do list. This way your mind can let them go because you know they are on your list.
6. Do what you can to deal with it. Whatever "it" is, get a head start. Tackle some aspect of it to get unstuck on something that you have been dreading or something that has been nagging at you.You can beat it to the punch by being proactive.
7. Do something else. Get something done on anything except what is causing the mental clutter. Sometimes a distraction will let your subconscious take over and work on the mental clutter while you get a break because you are engaged in something else.
8. Diet. Don't overlook this. Watch watch what you eat. A sugar rush can throw your body off and make things seem worse than they are. Be sure to stay hydrated. Try not not to miss meals or to overindulge. Keeping your food intake on an even keel will help keep mental clutter from tipping your balance.
9. Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reducer that has immediate mental benefits. It takes a while to experience physical benefits like weight loss or muscle toning, but the reduction in stress can be almost immediate. Remember to check with your doctor first!
10. Meditation. It doesn't have to be complicated. Meditation can be as simple as slowing down and counting your breaths for a short period, or taking a few deep, slow, deliberate breaths. Sometimes even a couple of minutes doing this can help change your perspective.
11. Tell a friend. Call or e-mail a friend to discuss your mental clutter. You can get a lot of emotional support and a fresh perspective this way. Friends help each other. If a friend isn't available and you need help getting "unstuck" try a self-help book from the library or bookstore. There are thousands of them on many different mental clutter topics.
12. Tell a therapist or your doctor. They are experts. If there are lingering, recurring, or stressful issues, consider professional help. Doctors and mental health experts can be more objective than friends and have a very large toolbox of ideas for you to try.
Consider printing out this list and keeping it in a drawer, inside a cupboard door, or with your journal if you keep one. The list above isn't comprehensive. Different items above will help for different occasions and times of your life. Consider them to be tools in your toolbox. Keep an eye open to continue to expand the tools in your toolbox to clear the mental clutter. Add to this list when you find something that works for you.