Decluttering and deep cleaning our living spaces is a hallmark of spring — “spring cleaning.” Did you know we can do something similar for the mind? Mental clutter and a lack of clarity can leave us feeling like we’re always in a reactive state, unable to respond authentically to life’s challenges.
Here are some practical tips for conducting a mental spring cleaning.
Clear space for gratitude and mindfulness
Gratitude is celebrating the good in your life. Setting aside a few moments to recall all you are thankful for has been linked to benefits like improved mood and sleep, reduced inflammation and stress levels, and increased self-esteem and capacity for empathy. Some people even keep gratitude journals or lists of what they are thankful for each day.
Mindfulness is the practice of presence. To be mindful is to recognize thoughts, emotions, and actions in a nonjudgmental way. By bringing awareness to our senses, we can focus our attention on the present moment. Check out a helpful mindfulness exercise here.
Scheduling time for gratitude and mindfulness daily or incorporating them into your routine will maximize their benefits.
No matter how much we practice gratitude or mindfulness, we will still experience negative thoughts and emotions like worry, self-criticism, or doubt. We need to schedule a time for these feelings. Emotions that we don’t process feel bigger and can become larger obstacles to our goals. Try setting an alarm for an amount of time — even just 1-2 minutes — to allow yourself to feel, process, and consider negative thoughts. Then, during the day, when negative thoughts try to take over, you can say, “I’ll give you 2 minutes at noon.” This will free up mental space.
Exercise is one of the best ways to integrate your brain and body and beat fatigue and brain fog. It increases oxygen to the brain, lowers stress hormones, and releases a “feel-good” hormone (dopamine). Even taking a brisk walk around the block can have wonderful effects. As with gratitude, mindfulness, and containing negativity, having a set time or regular movement routine will give you the best results.
Inventory your habits
Tracking habits can help you see what routines serve you and identify those that don’t. Consider using a wellness log to celebrate yourself and see where you may have room to practice a new skill.
Organize your thoughts and goals
One of the best ways to declutter your mind is to get everything down on paper. In a previous post, we talked about the Brain Dump tool and how to bring order to your mental chaos. If you’re struggling to identify daily goals and implement a plan to achieve them, following the brain dump methodology may help.
Uncover fears that might be holding you back
One thing to consider when mentally decluttering is whether there are any fears holding us back. Is the fear of failure keeping you from completing the task ahead? Are you feeling “stuck?” Does your goal seem so big that it’s daunting? Talking to a friend or journaling these feelings may help them feel less debilitating. Try breaking your goal into smaller tasks: what’s the very next thing? If you’re afraid of tackling a whole-house deep clean, a great first step would be to first make sure you have the right cleaning supplies.
These are practices you can integrate into your daily routine or practices you can pick up and use as needed. By applying these mental spring cleaning techniques, you will start to experience clarity and cultivate balance and consistency.