6 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

by | August 22, 2016 | Articles, Mental health, wellness + thriving

There is a rush of things to do. Your mind has already shifted into overdrive as your alarm wakes you.

Is it 5:45 already?

Today will be a long day at work.

Need to get the kids ready for school.

Oh! …need to call the insurance company — oh no, did I forget to charge my phone last night? I have to take a conference call on my way to work!

And away you go, frantically searching for the car charger you never use, your thoughts sweeping ahead before you have had a chance to choose your intention for the day.

Do most mornings start like this for you?

As we go about our days, it can be easy to fall victim to our line of thoughts. With our lives becoming busier and subject to more distractions, it is important for us to live in a present, focused state so that every task or project is completed with our full attention.

When your mind is cluttered with worry or stress, you can use these 6 ways to help you ground back into a calm state:

  1. Breathe to stay in the present moment.
    If you find yourself caught up in the rush of the day, consider pausing and take a few deep breaths. Let yourself be fully aware and in the present moment. I highly recommend these breathing exercises, demonstrated by Dr. Andrew Weil.I know how hard it can be to slow down. I recommend you experiment with this and observe what happens. You can still put your efforts and energy towards accomplishing your goals. In fact, you will be able to do so more efficiently and powerfully. When we slow down, expand our awareness and allow the clutter (whether the clutter be multitasking or multiple thoughts and worries) to dissipate, we are allowing for a new path to develop, and creating growth and opportunity out of challenges.
  1. Act out of love, not fear.
    Have you ever had an argument with your loved one, or a co-worker, and thought, “Wow, where did all this tension and negativity come from? Why did I not handle myself better?” or “I cannot believe I said that, that was really hurtful!”Often, when we are hurt or our security is threatened in some way, our “fight or flight” response will get activated. Yes, the old caveman response to danger, such as being attacked by a large animal.

    Getting upset or angry is normal, just take a step back before you react to these feelings. Digest your thoughts and feelings through journaling, meditation, yoga or exercise. When you pause and reflect, you are more likely to respond from a place of love, compassion and reason. I invite you check out Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, an excellent communication guide.

  1. Meditate.
    Meditation practice, even if it is just a few minutes a day, can make a difference in how you process and respond to stress in your life.Allowing your mind and body to sit in the present moment can help you practice paying attention, connect with your true self and expand your awareness. This will help you approach situations with a clear mind and get less “hooked” to certain negative thoughts or insecurities, but rather observe them with compassion and understanding.

    You can learn more about meditation here: Mindfulness Meditation as explained by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Insight LA or Headspace App.

  1. Write it out.
    If you are overwhelmed with thoughts and to do lists, write things down or put them in your iCal. This way, you remove the overwhelming feeling your “to do” list can sometimes provoke, and the pressure of remembering it all. This will help create space for being present.
  1. Forgive yourself.
    How often do you hear the inner critic commenting on how “I should have…”, “I should not have…”. Many of us beat ourselves up about missed opportunities, misbehavior, or reactivity out of proportion.How about allowing yourself to distance yourself from the criticism and the experience, taking a deep breath, analyzing the situation objectively, noting the take home points and opportunities for growth, and moving on?

    I know this is much easier said than done. This may take time, and sometimes after you have gotten very good at it, the inner critic may reappear. Being able to get to know this critic and get curious about the inner monologue, rather than resisting or dwelling on it, will help you challenge and quiet it.

    Check out Sharing Mindfulness and Insight LA for excellent guided meditations (self-compassion and loving kindness meditations) that can help you begin to develop self-compassion.

  1. Forgive others.
    This can only be done after going through the process of acceptance for life as it is. Accepting the past, and present.Think about accepting others for who they are and not judging, as we are all doing the best we can (given our genetic make-up, past experiences and current situation).

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that you are going to keep finding yourself in situations where you are exposed to the hurtful actions of someone else, or resigning to a situation. It just means accepting the situation and the person for who they are, and rationally making choices about how to move forward, rather than dwelling on the situation, feeling pity for yourself or feeling stuck.

Now…

Take a deep breath. How does that feel?

I’d love to hear from you: what kind of things take up room in your mind, and what do you find yourself struggling with most when you try to declutter? What strategies have you found to be effective in decluttering your mind?

About the Author

Dr. Bojana (Boy•ana) Jankovic Weatherly is an award winning board certified internal medicine physician. As part of her mission to deliver accessible, evidence- based health and wellness information, she created this website, featuring her videos, articles and recipes.

1 Comment

  1. Margaret Gallagher

    I love this advice. I find myself being completely overwhelmed at times between work, the children (they’re not little anymore, but it doesn’t seem to matter, LOL) and my relationship with my beloved husband (who is a heart patient). I adore what I do (I work for the largest organization for fundraising for non profits worldwide), but it seems that a lot of requests need IMMEDIATE attention and sifting through the ones that truly do and hoping I have made the correct decision can be really stressful.

    The mindfulness advice has been ENORMOUS. I found myself being ‘in the moment’ doing dishes the other day.

    I SO appreciate your website, Dr. Bojana. You have helped my journey to serenity more than I could ever express. Apologies in advance for the parens!

    Reply

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