HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR MIND FOR CLARITY AND PEACE
Clutter isn’t just the physical stuff in our homes. It can also be emotional and psychological clutter as we busy our brains like we busy our life. Check out this post for 24 tips on how to declutter your mind for more clarity and peace. There’s a free Mental Declutter Checklist you can get too!
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 types of clutter that fills 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 making you feel overstretched and overwhelmed
- Too many tasks on your To Do list so you’re not able to complete them all, let alone identify the urgent or important ones
- Too many decisions on what to cook for dinner especially when you’re tired and hungry at the end of the day
- Too many emails sitting in your inbox so you can’t find the one you’re looking for or miss an important email that requires actioning
- Too many subscriptions to pay for memberships, activities or items that you don’t use but which cost you money
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.
If you’re curious about other types of less visible clutter in your own life, you might enjoy this article for 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. They don’t get in our way and we don’t see them every day to remind us of their presence. However, they’re still there. They can weigh on our minds and contribute to our stress, frustration, anxiety, mental health and physical wellbeing 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.
Importantly, 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.
Aside from working towards a decluttered home, I put in place some regular and healthy self-care routines, I guarded my calendar and my time like it was the most precious resource in the world and wow, what a difference I felt!
I felt lighter, happier, less stressed and 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, employee and person.
In a nutshell, I now prioritise looking after my mind and mental health daily as part of my own self-care routine because I feel so much better when I’m in a better place, physically and emotionally!
If you feel you’d like to prioritise looking after your own mind, here are 24 ideas on how to declutter your mind for less stress, more clarity and peace…
HOW TO DECLUTTER YOUR MIND
Try these 24 intentional ways to clear a cluttered mind for less stress, more clarity and more peace.
1. Take daily exercise
Not only is it good for our bodies to be active, but exercise has some great benefits for our mental health. It gives us time to think. I know some of my best ideas come to me whilst I’m out for my daily walk with the dog and if I need to clear my head for any reason, a walk in nature usually does the trick. 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 your physical ability and that you can do regularly and keep up. Block out a time of day for your exercise and build it in to your daily routine.
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 today’s list is becoming too long and unrealistic. Keep another list handy of things you need to remember or think through if you need to get things out of your head and on to paper (always helpful for decluttering your mind).
Here are some more tips on writing a simple, strategic To Do list.
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, mindfully decluttering your home, or preparing for a work presentation! As Jim Elliot quotes “Wherever you are, be all there.”
Mindfulness helps us be aware of and work through our current thoughts and frame of mind so that we can notice, understand and deal with them instead of being overwhelmed by them.
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.
Although this is a productivity tip, lack of time and rushing is a common way to stress ourselves out and feel overwhelmed. Thinking about the time you have and where you waste it, could be a great way to carve out more time in your day to give yourself less stress and more ease.
5. Find time for you
As well as carving out more time in general, 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.
Time for you isn’t selfish or a luxury, it’s a way to give yourself breathing space in a busy day. It doesn’t have to be hours at a time or be very complicated. Even just 10 minutes with a cup of tea can help you focus on yourself and your thoughts instead of what’s going on around 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 might benefit from a few goals to keep you going in the right direction and a plan to achieve them.
Goals give us focus, something to work towards and they help us make changes that are right for us. So, if your mind is feeling fuzzy and you’ve got too much going on that you can’t think straight, maybe it’s time to work out what you can change and how you’re going to make that happen. Here are some tips on how to set goals that matter, or perhaps it’s time to reset your life?
7. Build 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!
Habits are the building blocks of an easier life and help us make changes that will stick. If you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s often a sign that you and your life are out of sync with each other. In the point above, we’ve looked at how you can use goal-setting to bring about big change, but maybe some smaller tweaks are more practical and effective for a quick fix? 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. And, it isn’t just your body that needs rest, it’s your brain too. There is a close relationship between mental health and sleep so if you’re feeling frazzled and fuzzy, then it might be a good idea to look at how your sleep might be affecting you.
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 the visual distraction that disturbs our peace and quiet and stimulates our brain so we can’t sleep at night.
Silence those noisy alerts, pings and notifications every now and then so you can give your mind a rest. Although reminders are helpful, it’s easy to feel on a constant state of alert or like you have to be doing something when your phone is bleeping away at you all the time.
Tune out of social media and tune into your world instead. Heavy social media use isn’t good for our mental health and has been linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness. Although it can be great for information and inspiration, be aware of how you could use social media more mindfully.
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 is good for the mind because it encourages us to centre our thoughts, focus on the present and feel calmer and more peaceful in the moment.
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.
I used to think that meditation required a totally quiet home, a perfect place in which to sit, a mat and cushion on the floor and half an hour of free time. Maybe this is why it always felt unrealistic and difficult. I’ve now discovered that I can use spare minutes of time to meditate, choosing a safe space wherever I am and just close my eyes and focus. If I have a few minutes in the car whilst waiting for my kids, or at my desk in my lunch break, or just sitting on my sofa at home, I’ve found I can use the time to meditate if I want or need.
12. Practice slow living and being less busy
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 appointments that overrun and just enjoy doing whatever you want every now and then. Embrace the benefits of slow living and being less busy.
13. Stop or reduce multitasking
Multitasking is bad for the brain. Every time we switch from one task to another, we become more distracted, lose focus and concentration. Not only is this frustrating and not good for our productivity but it also makes us feel that we have to split our attention and do ‘all the things’ and all at the same time. Multitasking is also not good for our stress levels, anxiety or feelings of worth if we put pressure on ourselves to get everything done and done to a high standard.
I know that busy life often requires us to multitask every now and then. I’m trying to do it even now writing this article as I’ve just remembered something I forgot to do at work! However, as far as possible, do one thing and finish it before you move onto the next. This helps build a sense of achievement and encouragement. Keep a notebook handy, or the Notes on your phone and just jot down whatever else comes to mind and come back to it later when you’ve finished what you’re doing now.
Check out my post for other time management tips which you might find helpful.
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 thoughts
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.
Keep a diary or some kind of record whenever you notice your thinking becoming negative or intrusive. Over time you can build up a sense of how your thoughts might be affecting your days and your life. What thoughts come to mind most often, is there a trigger for them, how do you deal with them?
Some examples of negative thoughts could be feeling out of control, over-anxious, that you’re not worthy, jumping to conclusions, over-generalisation, self-blame, thinking that we ‘should’ or ‘must’ do something, making excuses and catastrophising and thinking the worst will happen.
One of the ways in which I overcome intrusive and negative thoughts is by using positive affirmations to reframe my thoughts. We are what we believe and the more you say something to yourself, the more you believe it to be true. Try these positive morning affirmations to help you address negative thoughts.
Writing your thoughts down on paper can be a relaxing and cathartic way of exploring your emotions, both good and bad. Check out these journaling resources if you’d like to know more about journaling and how to get started if you’re new to the practice.
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!
We know that self-care is important, we know it’s more than just warm baths and cups of tea and we also know that self-care for our mind is just as important as self-care for the body.
The bit that most of us struggle with however, is finding time for self-care and remembering to make it a priority when so much of the rest of our day and life also feels like a priority too. This is where many of us get stuck. We know what we need to do but we can’t find the time or space (in the diary or our mind) to make it happen.
If this is something you struggle with too, then I have a couple of suggestions:
- Try these self-care tips which take just 10 minutes or less
- Take a look at my Self-Care Toolkit and see if it could be helpful to you
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!
Every item in your home sends out messages. Do those messages make you feel good or bad? Is it guilt for buying something you don’t need, overwhelm because you have too much stuff to look after comfortably? Even your potted plants remind you to water them! What messages does your stuff send out to you?
A cluttered outer environment leads to a cluttered inner environment so declutter your mind by decluttering your home.
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 and avoid decision fatigue. 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 overwhelmed by life, 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? Does your body show signs of stress with headaches, stomach problems, tight muscles or more?
Awareness of the relationship and impact between your mind and body is a great way to know that your internal balance needs to shift with some outward changes in your life more generally. Knowing the signs can give you an early signal that says your mind is cluttered and needs some peace so you can begin to do something about it.
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.
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 with an app 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.
Try this: Check out this TED article (with video) from Ryder Carroll (creator of the Bullet Journal) on how to declutter your mind.
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
- Avoid 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
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS!
I hope these ideas on how to declutter your mind give you some food for thought. I chose these tips because I think they’re realistic and manageable for most of us to incorporate into our daily life.
Pick the ones that appeal to you and find what works best for you as part of a regular self-care routine for your body and mind.
What do you do to clear the clutter from your mind? How do you know when your mind is cluttered? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
FURTHER RESOURCES ON DECLUTTERING AND SIMPLIFYING
Here are some more articles and resources which you might find helpful:
- How Minimalism Can Help Highly Sensitive People – Are you a Highly Sensitive Person feeling overwhelmed by busy life and the outside world? In this article I’m sharing some gentle tips on how minimalism can help Highly Sensitive People find more peace, calm and space at home and in life.
- Slow Decluttering: The Benefits of Decluttering Slowly – Today’s world seems to be about getting things done quick. We want the easiest hack to getting what we want in the fastest way possible but I’m not sure that this is always the best approach. In this article we look at slow decluttering and the benefits of decluttering slowly for a clutter-free home and life that’s more likely to stay like that!
- How to Declutter Your Home and Life – Clearing clutter is often the first step to creating a simpler life, with more time, more ease and less stress. Decluttering isn’t always easy but this guide provides some helpful tips on how to declutter your home and life and make space for what matters most to you.