Do you often feel like your mind is going at a hundred miles an hour? Like you have a hundred things to do but don’t know where to start? If the answer to both is a resounding yes, then we think we know what’s plaguing you.
Simply put, in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, it’s often hard to ‘switch off’ — from assignments, deadlines, meetings, chores, especially social media. Thanks to a highly revered ‘hustle culture’, our lives are now more demanding than ever, and the lines between personal and professional are blurring. It’s always ‘all systems go’, without a moment to relax, to do nothing.
The result? Our minds are filled to the brim with clutter, sometimes leading to chronic stress which can harm the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is the part that regulates memory, attention, and planning abilities. Needless to say then, mental clutter can negatively impact your productivity, wellbeing, and your overall quality of life.
Here’s the good news though — there are multiple ways in which you can silence the noise, and get back to being your best self.
Commit to a digital detox
Studies have shown that the average user touches their phone over 2,000 times a day. That’s anastonishing number, to say the least. This addiction is a result of how easily phones fulfill our need to stay connected — scroll on Instagram and you know what all your friends are up to. Press send on that text, and it instantly reaches your cousin halfway around the world. But there’s a definite downside to this obsession — worsening quality of sleep and reduced efficiency being primary. While going cold turkey may not be the answer, there are small ways in which you can limit your screen time. Start by setting boundaries — e.g. keeping your phone more than an arm’s length away before bed (as opposed to under your pillow) or putting it on silent during meal times. You could also take small steps such as keeping your phone on airplane mode for an hour a day or disabling push notifications. Start with what feels doable and comfortable, and you’ll slowly be able to make a larger commitment, such as no texting after dinner. Trust us, it’ll be worth it!
Clean up physical clutter
We live in a world characterized by the paradox of choice. While some freedom of choice is good, too much leads to a situation called ‘choice paralysis’ where it becomes that much harder to make a decision — and this leads to anxiety. So, cut down on your physical ‘stuff’. Start with your wardrobe. Donate the clothes you haven’t worn in six months, and you’ll be surprised how much easier it’ll be to decide your daily outfits. If you’re a makeup buff, make a conscious decision to buy new products only once you’ve finished what you already have. And if these seem too hard, why not just start with clearing out all those old papers — notes, bills, and booklets — you don’t need anymore? Just take the leap, clean your space — and also your mind.
Meditation can help clear your mind of clutter and help you feel grounded. Studies have even shown it helps preserve the grey matter in our brains, while also combating depression and anxiety. The best part? You don’t need more than 5 minutes a day! So to begin with, set a timer for five minutes, focus your eyes at a point a few feet in front of you (or keep them closed) and just concentrate on your breathing. And if you need help, here’s a series of guided meditations to get you started. Make this a part of your daily routine, and you’ll see a marked improvement in productivity and concentration levels. We’d say it’s worth ten minutes a day, wouldn’t you?
Talk about it
Talking to friends or family about what’s stressing you out is a good way to release pent-up anxiety. Plus, sharing your thoughts with someone else helps you view situations from a fresh perspective, which then allows you to make better decisions. However, in case you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone you know, speaking to a professional might be a better bet. Sometimes, all we need is someone who’ll listen without judgement, and in that case, therapy is the right fit. It’s all about what works for you!
So there you have it — simple ways in which you can work through mental clutter, put your mind at ease, and improve your focus. All you need is the will to make a change, and most importantly, to realize that sometimes, taking a break and doing nothing is the best thing you can do for yourself.