Do you ever feel like your brain is too full? Do things seem to be jamming up the gears in your mind? Your head might be cluttered – and it may be spring-cleaning time! Today, we will look at simple ways you can declutter your mind
The brain is a powerful thing that is always trying to learn. It’s collecting as much information and data as possible to help you find success and live an efficient life. But sometimes, too much gets logged up in there, including things that shouldn’t be held on to.
What can you do about it? How can you free up some space so you can function at best performance again? Here’s how experts suggest 5 powerful ways to declutter your mind.
1. Learn The Difference Between Reflection and Rumination
Reflection is crucial in solving problems, finding self-improvement, and learning from the past. These are all crucial for decluttering your mind. It requires that you put in a fair bit of effort and thought into growing and considering your past and how it has affected you. Here are some steps for reflection that are positive and a sign of good decluttering:
- Stepping away from an emotional situation and being with your thoughts in peace
- Identifying emotions, situations, and triggers for certain feelings and behaviors
- Listening to your inner voice and encouraging it to come forward so you can be true to your heart
- Taking note of steps, you can take to have better outcomes in the future
- Acting upon and applying the steps you’ve decided on, sometimes with clear goals in mind
However, there is a more negative form of this behavior that may crop up and is easy to confuse. It’s called rumination, which has been linked in studies to disorders like anxiety and depression.
Here are some signs that you’re ruminating, not reflecting:
- You second-guess every thought you have or decision you’ve made.
- Rehashing or revisiting the same problem again and again with no progress
- You keep imagining exaggerated or catastrophic situations or outcomes.
According to a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, and mental strength expert Amy Morin, the act of rumination won’t get you anywhere. But if you really need to, she recommends setting aside a specific amount of time per day for rumination, such as 10 to 15 minutes. During this period, you are free to be as negative as you like, but once the time is up, all of that must stop immediately. It’s a good way to regulate your worst thoughts without letting them control you!
2. Write In A Journal to Declutter Your Mind
Journaling is a wonderful way to get rid of the mess that lines your thoughts and clouds your head. Decluttering expert and coach Yvette Bowlin considers the entire act of journaling to be beneficial, no matter how difficult it is for you at first. This is because:
- When you try to think of what to write, you’re recalling your day and reflecting on it subconsciously
- It trains you to observe situations from a third-person perspective, as if you are a reader and not the person involved, thus allowing you to get a more rational view
- You get to express your most difficult emotions, often untangling them as you write or at least unleashing them in positive ways
- It can give you a place to put all the noise that happens in your mind, thus helping you to declutter your brain and find peace
- It can be relaxing when it becomes part of a daily routine; think of journaling as a way to unwind
It’s not just pseudoscience, either. The act of keeping a journal has been found to boost positive thinking, facilitate healing, improve overall mood and emotional response, and even increase immunity! Lead study author and psychologist James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., says that the most effective form of expressive writing uses more emotion and engages in an analysis of the causes and triggers of events and feelings. Try to apply that to your journaling work!
Many people look at daydreaming as something inherently negative. But this state of rest for the brain doesn’t actually shut off your whole mind. In fact, it leaves many parts of it active and working, often in more positive ways than it can when it’s busy.
Many people actually benefit from having time to process information instead of being forced to quickly take it in and move on to the next thing. This is especially true in children, but even adults can benefit. You’ll be less stressed out and more motivated if you have the time to be confident in your understanding of a topic.
But where does daydreaming come in? Well, it’s an inward-focused action that allows you to rest your mind while continuing the fun and calming activity. This keeps the brain rested enough to process information but active enough to fuel creativity and keep you engaged.
Are you overly focused on external rewards?
Psychological scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology Mary Helen Immordino-Yang states that the excessive focus on the external, especially in education, is misplaced. She posits that few are taught to look inward enough, and inward focus is important for things like:
- Building and forming memories
- Applying learned information
- Creating meaning from learning
- Reaching new contexts
These factors are all needed when you declutter your mind, so daydream all you want!
4. Be Open About Your Emotions And Express Them Freely
Emotional suppression is a common cause of clutter in the mind. Bottling up your emotions causes them to linger. You might think that you’re just dismissing them, but in reality, you’re letting them collect, and over time, that causes a lot of thought buildup. In fact, this can be so bad for you that studies have found it can affect your mental, physical, and general health!
But why does this happen? Well, your brain is making an effort to get rid of the emotion – which is not possible – and shoves it away while putting up a face that is contrary to what it feels. This will quickly drain you, no matter who you’re hiding your real thoughts from. Here are some examples of subtle emotional repression that you might not even notice:
- Feeling pressure to be positive and bright with everyone around you, no matter how bad you feel.
- Hiding negative feelings for fear of being labeled sensitive, overly emotional, or attention-seeking
- Chatting with neighbors to be polite when you’re really just exhausted and want to go home
- Being dishonest to people to avoid difficult conversations
But how can you stop repressing your emotions when you’ve been conditioned for so long to hold them in?
Here are some ideas of how you can kindly express your feelings:
- Do not expect yourself to be perfect or happy; this is dishonest about the human condition, and it doesn’t let you express your emotions.
- Be honest and open about your interests and hobbies (within appropriate limits) instead of feeling embarrassed by or ashamed of them.
- Politely excuse yourself from conversations and situations that you’re too tired to be a part of or have no interest in participating in
- Be honest with yourself and be willing to confront difficult topics and reflect on them.
- Communicate your need for rest and stand up for yourself when accused of laziness; all human beings require time to recuperate.
- Replace negative thought patterns that make you think you’re forced to do certain crucial tasks with more positive ones so that you genuinely begin to want to complete them
- Proclaim emotions out loud when appropriate instead of hiding them
- Communicate your problems with someone’s actions or behavior as soon as possible
- Find new inspiration sources that are more true to what you believe in and desire.
- When you can’t directly confront a person for practical or safety reasons, write an angry “letter” to them (that you won’t send) to quickly get all your feelings out.
5. Declutter Your Mind By Being Decisive
Being decisive is about knowing when it’s time to stop putting off a decision. It means learning to be confident in your rationality and problem-solving abilities, so you can make choices without spending too much time second-guessing.
According to Scott Roewer, a professional organizer, clutter can often be best defined as a series of delayed decisions. It sounds a little silly but think about it. All the stuff clogging up your brain are things you need to address. They’re things that require action and choice. Until you make those decisions, the clog remains!
One of the common decision-making methods is the WRAP method, coined by the Heath brothers years ago. According to a therapist, certified coach, certified clinician, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center owner Karyn Hall, Ph.D., this system can be handy in quickly making positive decisions. Learning this method can help you declutter your current brain and prevent future buildup.
Here are some adapted tips from this method:
- Widen your perspective first; ask other people for opinions and accept constructive feedback.
- Try to think of finding solutions from multiple different angles all at once
- Consider new perspectives; think of opposite solutions on your spectrum, listen to some people you disagree with, consider their points, and consider things from external and internal perspectives.
- Think about what needs to be true for your solution to work; is there anything you’re taking for granted that you shouldn’t assume will be a long-term factor?
- Take things slow and small if possible; don’t jump head-first into brand new ideas unless you don’t have a choice.
- Think about the longevity of this solution; will it hold up tomorrow, in a month, in a year, or a decade?
- Sleep on difficult decisions if possible, so you wake up with a fresher and clearer mind to think about your choices
- Keep sight of your main goals; don’t forget to honor the very core of your values, dreams, and priorities when you make decisions.
- Be ready to be completely wrong; you can’t guess the outcome of all situations, so you must be ready for the possibility that you’ve made the wrong choice so you can react to a negative outcome effectively.
A cluttered mind can dampen your motivation, reduce productivity, and affect your capacity for positive thinking. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you declutter your brain every once in a while. Nothing works well when it’s sluggish from dust and dirt!