How often do you find yourself feeling as though there are a million and one things going on?
Am pretty certain thinking that the majority, if not all of you will say, is that this can happen to you quite a lot. Whether it be internally or externally, this overwhelming feeling continues to manifest itself in your mind. Until there is intervention, there grows a greater risk of you becoming debilitated to continue forward.
Clutter is a part of life. Each one of us faces it, day in and day out. It involves dealing with clutter in our home, workspace, wardrobe or even our bodies. We can also get caught up in our own emotions or even that of others too. There becomes a mountain of distractive thoughts of worry and fear, not allowing us to have a clear-headspace to process effectively or efficiently.
Over the years I have begun to appreciate the need to focus on the self; to reflect and be reflexive with my thoughts, behaviours, and experiences. After much trial and error, there have been a number of things have proven to be of great help in decluttering the mind and revitalising it to think more openly.
The breath. Present at all times yet given far too little consideration. Reconnecting with your breath can be very uplifting, filling your lungs with energy and your mind with clarity. Of course, it is common knowledge that we cannot live without breathing, but to do so well enough to function at our best can require us to be more mindful of it.
Start by inhaling deeply through the nose, and slowly exhale through the nose or mouth. Feel the body rise and fall, listen to the sound of the air floating in and out of the body. Do this for a few minutes, and notice the change in how you feel.
Put Pen to Paper
This is the physical act of writing down what you are thinking, what is going on or what needs to be done. It is the old-fashioned way of collecting information whilst engaging more with the conscious.
When I was going through the hardest parts of my recovery, having a journal become my personal therapy. It allowed those things that I didn’t think were real, real. Seeing what was going on in my mind, made me realise that they really do exist and they need to be dealt with.
Once you have identified the ‘mental clutter’ identify was is essential and the non-essential.
The essential will be the most important things that matter to you; your priorities, passions, relationships, aspirations, values, and beliefs. Hold on to them, give them close attention and care.
The non-essential will be the things that don’t necessarily need to be emphasised or given too much time at this moment in time. Eliminate them to provide the space for the essential. It isn’t that you are aiming to completely remove them straight away but to put your focus on what allows you to thrive.
Also using a journal promotes self-reflection upon a personal code of ethics (1); “This recognition of personal values, beliefs, and the various changes a person undergoes throughout life, if combined with a personal philosophy statement, can result in foundational tools useful as guides or mirrors for subsequent professional action and ethical decision making” (Hiemstra, 1988, p. 178)
Eat & Sleep Well
What we put into our bodies as a very vital role in how we maintain good health which impacts brain function. Studies have shown that quality of diet can impact an individuals likelihood to develop depression (2). Providing yourself with plenty of wholesome foods that nourish the body, containing the nutrients we all need can do wonders for the way you feel and think. Though do remember eating meant to be a pleasurable part of life, so be sure to include your favourite foods too.
Being physically active has been shown to help with maintaining good mental health (3). Furthermore, stepping outside into the fresh air aids those benefits even further as they are often removing you from the confinements of being indoors the majority of the day(4). Getting in touch with nature is rewarding for all the senses. It grounds you to the earth beneath and creates the open space you seek, which in turn with echo back to you internally.
Take a look at your environment, and ask yourself how calm, relaxed and inspired you are by it. You may find that you need to tidy up, reorganise your wardrobe or you may think its time to decorate a little to find that positive energy in a space you spent the most time in.
Of course, not all of these steps may be of benefit, though it is always worth giving something a try before casting off to one side. Like I mentioned before, it has taken a lot of trial and error to find what works best for me, so its good to try out all options available to you.
(1) Hiemstra, R. “Translating Personal Values and Philosophy into Practical Action.” In R. G. Brockett (ed.), Ethical Issues in Adult Education. New York: Teachers College Press, 1988.
(2) Molendijk, M., Molero, P., Sánchez-Pedreño, F. O., Van der Does, W., & Martínez-González, M. A. (2018). Diet quality and depression risk: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of affective disorders, 226, 346-354.
(3) Knapen, J., Vancampfort, D., Moriën, Y., & Marchal, Y. (2015). Exercise therapy improves both mental and physical health in patients with major depression. Disability and rehabilitation, 37(16), 1490-1495.
(4) Network, C. R. (2017). A countryside for health and wellbeing: the physical and mental health benefits of green exercise. Cancer.