The B-Blog: “Stop Feeling Overwhelmed And Stressed: 3 Ways To Declutter Your Mind” – Feb, 2017
Do you ever wake up in a surge of negative thoughts? Or have trouble getting to sleep because your brain keeps looping on that ever-expanding “to do” list that makes you feel like you’re drowning in tasks?
If so, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed. Here are 3 powerful ways to declutter your mind:
1) Declutter your surroundings.
Your surroundings have an enormous impact on your mood and mind. As a creative “type,” my home isn’t pristine by any means, and I’m fine with that. But I started noticing I was feeling kind of… yucky when I looked around my space. Piles of notebooks with writings, scraps of paper with ideas everywhere, books and research all over the place… And even boxes of books and who-knows-what crammed under my desk that I never unpacked after moving… (yikes) 1-1/2 years ago.
I decided to take photos of each space in my apartment and look at them as if I’d never seen my home before. Is it really that bad? …Egad! There was so much clutter! But I was so used to it, I couldn’t even see it.
As my life becomes busier with speaking engagements and writing, I realized I really needed to get more organized and “clear my head” by clearing my space. Because the external clutter was making my mind and even mood feel cluttered too.
I’ve been on this decluttering kick for a couple months now, and wow, it’s working. In fact, immediately after starting, I felt a surge of energy. Creative ideas began flowing like crazy. And even though I’m not yet done, I look around my space with a lighter heart. I soooo recommend it!
So how to start decluttering?
There are lots of books out there on decluttering and I’ve read some great ones. But I recently read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. With her technique of holding each item and asking yourself, “Does this spark joy in me?”, I was able to “release” 180 items already – and I’m not finished yet!
2) Un-Do the “To-Do” List.
When your mind is cluttered with that giant “to-do” list, it’s creates the awful feeling of Overwhelm. I just went through this myself. I felt so overwhelmed with tasks that I became extremely t-i-r-e-d, uninspired, irritated. That’s not my normal state and it’s not how I choose to live.
Unfortunately what my body wants to do when I feel overwhelmed is to go back to bed and not think about all the sh*t I need to do – obviously the very opposite of what would make things better.
I finally became conscious about what was going on, and did two things that switched off that feeling of overwhelm right away:
A) Get out a sheet of paper and write down EVERYTHING that’s jammed in your head: People to call, projects to finish, emails to respond to, groceries to get, the broken faucet… Just get all that STUFF out of your mind! It’s such a simple thing – but this one act alone can feel like a breath of fresh air to your mind. Leave the paper out so you can easily add to it whenever you remember something else that needs to get done.
Our minds are not meant to keep hundreds of stray thoughts in place. Wouldn’t you rather use your mind for creative, inspired thinking – instead of a giant “I gotta remember to do…” list?
B) At the end of your work day, choose 3 things you’ll do the following day – especially if you’re self-employed and have to create your own schedule. That will stop you from procrastinating on what really needs to get done. They say 20% of your activities bring you 80% of your returns. What activities will give you the most bang for your buck?
3) Consciously Choose Thoughts – At Least Once a Day.
We can only think one thought at a time – literally. So when your mind is clogged with negative thoughts – or worse yet, Mind Loops, which are negative thoughts that loop over and over in your head like a crazed hamster on a wheel – there’s literally no room for a positive thought to enter.
Your thoughts trigger emotions too. So if you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, irritated, anxious and/or stressed, I guarantee you have way too many thoughts hanging out in the negative zone – even if you’re not conscious of what you’re actually saying in your head.
If you consciously choose different, more supportive, fun, cheerful thoughts, they’ll block out the negative ones – and will have an impact on your mood and the rest of your day. So…
Spend just a few minutes every morning writing down 3 things you appreciate: Your partner making dinner for you the evening before. The sunshine finally coming out (I’m writing from Seattle, so that’s a big one for us Seattleites). A compliment a co-worker said to you. A great passage in a book that made you think differently…
Then at night, just before bed, re-read what you wrote that morning – and/or, think of what went well for you that day. It’s easy to lay there and ruminate on all the hassles that occurred during the day… But getting into the state of appreciation will literally shift your brain state and calm all those synapses down. That means you’ll sleep more deeply and soundly… So you can start the next day with a more cheerful and open mind.
Commit to doing at least one of these techniques for a week. I’m tellin’ ya, you’ll be making major headway into letting go of overwhelm and stress… and feeling soooo much more peace of mind. Nuthin’ better than that.
Wishing you a de-cluttered week!
Barbara Ireland is a transformational speaker, singer, and founder of the “De-Looping Method” that stops repetitive, negative thoughts. She is author of the Amazon bestseller, How To Stop Negative Thoughts: What My Near Death Experience Taught Me About Neuroscience, Mind Loops, and Happiness.
woman with big hand – by Ryan McGuire via Gratisography
flowers on table – by Mike Birdy via StockSnap
to-do list – by freestock.org via StockSnap
girl in hat smiling – by Allef Vinicius via StockSnap