Let go of unnecessary mind baggage
In an over-stimulated world, where multitasking and working long hours are customary, we’re starting to see a national trend of burnout. People are quitting their jobs and moving to the wilderness, leaving behind all of their personal belongings.
You may not want to go off the grid, so here’s a practical guide to de-clutter your mind for a better New Year:
1. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need
When you start with your external environment, your internal environment will follow suit. Get rid of all the things you don’t need. Look through your closet, your paper piles and even furniture you could live without. Then, take a look at your schedule. What activities or people could you do without? Although it may seem harsh, the first step to a clean slate is to wipe it clean.
2. Write it out!
Most of the time, our minds are too cluttered because we don’t express what’s in them. Letting our thoughts out on paper not only frees up our mind space, but it will make us feel more in control of action steps because they’re outlined for us. Every night before bed or every morning when you get up, write your to-do list for the day or goals you’d like to achieve. You can do this in a traditional notebook or with various apps, such as Evernote.
Journaling is also a great way to express your emotions more in depth. Even if you never read what you wrote, it’s a great way to provide therapy for yourself and to sort out your thoughts. Here are some suggested topics to get you started writing:
- Things you’re worried about
- Plans for achieving your goals
- Concerns about a relationship that’s draining your energy
3. Put an End to Multitasking
You may think you need to multitask to get everything done, but you’re actually not being as productive as you think. What you call multitasking is actually task-switching, according to Dr Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries. “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount.” Your brain is constantly switching back and forth between tasks, and you never fully get “in the zone,” Winch says. So naturally, multitasking is actually slowing you down, and of course, causing you unnecessary stress. Only do one thing at a time – whether it’s eating dinner or catching up on emails.
4. Detach from Too Much Stimuli
It’s a Saturday morning. The kids are watching cartoons in the other room, your husband is reading the newspaper, and you’re browsing your iPad with the news on in the background. Sadly, this is a typical morning for Americans. Too much information and stimuli can clog up the brain, including things we hear on the news, social media, blogs and more. Be strict with what you allow in your house.
Here are some guidelines:
- Set a limit on the amount of time you’re going to spend on social media sites or browsing the Internet. For example, turning off devices in the early morning and before bed promotes better sleep.
- Unsubscribe from any blogs and cancel any magazine subscriptions that are not contributing to your quality of life or wellbeing.
- Make sure the opinions you pay attention to come from well-regarded individuals with relevant credentials.
- Decide what information is relevant to you, and disregard everything else.
5. Be Decisive
If you put off making decisions, whether they are as small as unsubscribing from an email list or as big as deciding on a move, your brain will soon be overflowing with unanswered questions. Usually, our first innate gut instincts are correct. Here are some other ways to be more decisive:
- Create a pros-and-cons list
- For more complex decisions, try the WRAP method
If you haven’t started mediating now is the time. The goal of meditation is to literally quiet down the mind to make room for what’s truly important. There is an endless supply of meditation tools, apps and guides out there. Visit your local yoga studio for classes or download apps such as Headspace or Calm. If you’re not an app person, simply start your day by sitting in silence for five minutes when you wake up. Slowly increase the minutes as the weeks go on.
Start to de-clutter your mind using these ideas, and discover the ability to reduce stress in your own life today!