HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR MIND: LESS STRESS AND MORE PEACE
Clutter isn’t just the physical stuff in our homes. It can also be emotional and psychological as we busy our brains like we busy our life. Check out this post for 24 tips on how to declutter your mind. Little tips for living intentionally and creating less stress and more peace.
WHAT DOES CLUTTER MEAN TO YOU?
Whenever we think about clutter, most of us usually focus on our physical stuff. Personal belongings, items around the home, the boxes dumped in the attic and so on.
However, there are so many other things that clutter up our lives in different ways.
The Collins Dictionary defines clutter as ‘a lot of things in an untidy state, especially things that are not useful or necessary.’
So, when you think about it, clutter could actually be anything that’s not useful or necessary… and that doesn’t just apply to the physical clutter in your home.
Clutter could be:
- Too many appointments in your diary
- Too many tasks on your To Do list
- Too many decisions on what to cook for dinner but no ingredients to cook with
- Too many emails sitting in your inbox
- Too many subscriptions to pay for memberships, activities or items that you don’t use
And, of course, the topic of this post… Too much stuff going on in your mind!
CLUTTER ISN’T JUST THE STUFF YOU CAN SEE
As you can see, clutter isn’t just dealt with by going through your home and getting rid of things that you don’t love, don’t need and don’t add value.
There are some far less visible forms of clutter that can have an impact on us mentally and emotionally.
Read more about 10 things to declutter that aren’t actual things.
We might not instantly think about them like we do the stuff that we see (aka clean, tidy, trip over, move around) every day. However, they’re still there. They can weigh on our minds and contribute to our stress, frustration, anxiety and give us a general feeling of lack of peace and fulfilment.
So, if this is resonating with you, keep reading! I’d like to share some ideas on how to declutter your mind, lessen your stress and create more peace…
MY OWN STORY
When I was brainstorming for this post, I began thinking back to my own journey into simple living.
I’d had enough of being a frazzled, working mum. I’d had enough of juggling all the balls and running myself into the ground in an effort not to drop one.
I wanted to enjoy my kids, spend time with them and have time for myself too. I wanted to try new things instead of slumping on the sofa each evening, too exhausted to do anything but still with a mountain of laundry to wade through before the morning.
My first experiment in simplifying my life was actually decluttering my wardrobe. You can read more here about the how and why a decluttered wardrobe made things so much easier.
This little project gave me my first insight into what a difference less clutter could make to my daily life and it wasn’t long before I started decluttering other aspects of my life.
I put in place some regular and healthy self-care routines, I guarded my calendar and my time like it was the most precious thing in the world and wow, what a difference I felt!
I felt lighter, happier, less overwhelmed and much, much more ready for and excited by life!
I began to realise that looking after my mind was such an important aspect of my health and self-care routine.
Not only did I feel better, more present and more calm but I was also a better mother, wife, friend and employee.
In a nutshell, I prioritise looking after my mind daily as part of my own self-care routine because I’m a better person when I’m in a better place, physically and emotionally!
When you have a moment, here are three posts which you might like to read which go into this more:
- Decluttering as self care
- Research into the psychological benefits of decluttering
- Why we need balance in life
For now though, here are 24 ideas on how to declutter your mind. I really hope they help to free up your thoughts…
HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR MIND
Try these 24 intentional ways to clear a cluttered mind for less stress and more peace.
1. Take daily exercise
Not only is it good for our bodies to be active, but exercise gives us time to think. It helps us sleep better, encourages a healthy appetite and releases feel-good chemicals to benefit body and brain. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy, fits in with your lifestyle and that you can do regularly and keep up.
2. Prioritise your To Do list
Don’t overload your list with so many tasks that you end up achieving nothing apart from stressing yourself out. Choose just a few things, say 3 for example, to do each day and make sure you get them done. You can always keep a separate list to add to for tomorrow if you need to get things out of your head and on to paper (always helpful for decluttering your mind).
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment. Keep focused on one task and fulfil it to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter whether it’s eating chocolate or preparing for a work presentation! As Jim Elliot quotes “Wherever you are, be all there.”
4. Don’t waste your time
Your time is perhaps the most limited resource you have. I’m not saying you have to be productive and achieving things every second of the day because, of course, we all need down-time to relax. Think about the things that waste your time during the day and see if you recognise any of these classic time-wasters?! Prioritise the important, learn to be efficient and effective and use the time you do have wisely.
5. Find time for you
Don’t underestimate the importance of looking after yourself and giving yourself some time. That’s time to do whatever you feel like doing, from reading a book to learning karate. I bet much of your day is spent doing things for other people, so find a few minutes each day to do something just for you.
6. Set intentional goals
Create some goals to give you direction and focus in life. Flying by the seat of your pants or being buffered by the strong winds of life are ok now and then. Yet, if you want things to happen in life and create a good life that supports you and your family, then you’d probably benefit from a few goals to keep you going in the right direction and a plan to achieve them. To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
7. Have healthy habits
Develop healthy daily habits that support you physically and emotionally. For example, check your eating patterns, opt for healthy food and diet choices, make space for self-development and learning new things, develop mutually supportive relationships, don’t go to bed too late and wonder why you hit the snooze button in the morning! Check out these healthy habits for your daily routine for some more ideas.
8. Get plenty of sleep
Your body needs sleep to recharge and rejuvenate. You expect a lot from your body every day, so be kind to it and give it what it needs with a structured evening routine and plenty of sleep.
9. Limit your screen time
Don’t stay glued to the computer screen, TV or any other devices without keeping an eye out for how long you’re using them. Many of us use screens for work so explore other ways to relax in your leisure time. Read books, listen to podcasts, play boardgames, take up a sport, start baking… Turn off the glare and those noisy alerts and pings. Tune out of social media and tune into your world instead.
10. Work-life balance
Watch the number of hours you put in at work as much as possible and find ways to balance home life with work. Family time, time for hobbies, time for you. They’re all important. Look out for signs that your work-life balance is out of sync and try to do something about it before it runs you down.
11. Practice meditation
Meditation takes practice and I must admit, it’s something that I struggle with myself! Yet, perseverance pays off and I’ve found that the guided meditations available on the internet are wonderful in helping me get into the right frame of mind. Try Headspace.com if you’d like to learn more.
12. Don’t overload your calendar
Keep an eye on your schedule and if you feel it’s getting too busy and you’ve no time to catch your breath, don’t be afraid to cancel or postpone things. Create free time to lessen the pressure, give yourself some wiggle room for emergencies, doing things on a whim and overrunning appointments and just enjoy doing whatever you want every now and then.
13. Forget multitasking
Multi-tasking is bad for the brain. Every time we switch from one task to another, we lose focus and concentration. As far as possible, do one thing and finish it before you move onto the next. Check out my post for other time management tips.
14. Brain dump
Get your thoughts out of your head and write them down onto paper where you can see them clearly, prioritise and action them. Swirling, jumbled thoughts which just clutter your mind aren’t any use to you at all. Check out my post on how to brain-dump to declutter your mind.
15. Address negative thought patterns
Negative thought patterns can be confusing and unconstructive. Take steps to shift your mindset and deal with patterns of behaviour and thinking which don’t serve you well such as perfectionism and procrastination.
Writing your thoughts down on paper can be a relaxing and cathartic way of exploring your emotions, both good and bad. Check out this post for some journal prompts for self-discovery.
17. Your self-care routine
Practice good, regular self-care in whatever way that means for you. Check out my self-care challenge for some daily tips, motivation and encouragement to help you put yourself first for a change!
18. Declutter your home
No post of mine would be complete without reference to decluttering! There are plenty of reasons to declutter your home, create some space, make it easier to look after your home and give yourself more time, energy and freedom to look after yourself!
19. Reduce decisions
It’s estimated that the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions each day! Reduce the number of decisions you make each day to free up some valuable mental energy. Try meal planning or decluttering your clothes so you’ll make it easier knowing what to eat and wear each day! That’s at least a couple of decisions sorted!
20. Enjoy nature
Nature has such a calming influence. Get outdoors as much as possible, look at the trees and flowers, feel the wind and sun on your skin and breathe in the fresh air.
21. Know the signs of a cluttered mind
Think about what you feel when your mind is cluttered. Do you feel confused, distracted? Is it difficult to switch off, relax or go to sleep? Is it difficult to make decisions or stay focused on the task at hand? Are you irritable, tearful, angry? Knowing the signs can give you an early signal that says your mind is cluttered and needs some peace.
22. Let things go
To quote Richard Carlson, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Pick your battles, let the unimportant slide and focus on the bigger picture. The niggles of today will probably be forgotten by tomorrow.
23. Write things down
Stop cluttering your mind with the minute details of your daily life. Keep a notebook handy and jot your reminders, tasks and random thoughts down there instead of storing them in your brain.
Alternatively, use the notes on your phone or Trello (a brilliant piece of software that’s easy to use and quick to keep notes on). I’m not an affiliate, just a big fan of it!
24. Learn to switch off at night
Learning how to declutter your mind at night is also a useful tool but it can take practice and preparation. Create a soothing evening routine and a peaceful bedroom to help you wind down, physically and psychologically.
We’ve looked at a few ways to declutter your mind including…
- Take daily exercise – Benefits your body and mind
- Prioritise your To Do list – Identify what’s important
- Practice mindfulness – Be present
- Don’t waste your time – Be effective and efficient
- Find time for you – Focus on yourself
- Set intentional goals – Get clear on what you want
- Have healthy habits – Leave behind bad habits
- Get plenty of sleep – Recharge you inner batteries
- Limit your screen time – Switch off
- Work-life balance – Balance in everything!
- Practice meditation – Be present
- Don’t overload your calendar – Be less busy
- Forget multitasking – One thing at a time
- Brain dump – Clear your brain
- Address negative thought patterns – Shift your thinking
- Journaling – Work through your thoughts
- Your self-care routine – Be kind to yourself
- Declutter your home – Clear clutter, create calm
- Reduce decisions – Create boundaries
- Enjoy nature – Find calm
- Know the signs of a cluttered mind – Learn the signs
- Let things go – Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Write things down – Don’t overload your brain
- Learn to switch off at night – Wind down for sleep