5 Types of Mental Clutter and What To Do About Them
Life is stressful. Our minds can easily become cluttered with the responsibilities of the day to day. Even now - how can you focus on this blog post? Aren't you distracted by the overwhelming feeling of being alive? Okay, enough existentialism - I want to talk about all the mental clutter taking up space in your mind and ways to combat it.
1. Stress and Anxiety
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere” ― Erma Bombeck
Let's talk about it. Did you know that the feeling of stress is actually meant to keep you safe? The trick is determining what is healthy stress vs unhealthy stress. The way I determine which is which is with a simple question:
Is this something I can control?
If not, breath into it, honor your feelings, and then find a way to move on. Worrying about things out of your control (aka most things) is just not a good use of your time. If it is something you can control – get cracking! Making a plan to deal with whatever is stressing you out can help alleviate those bad feelings.
2. Emotional Labor.
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” - Brené Brown
This is where boundaries come in. It is important to be there for your loved ones and your community. However, you will not be able to fully be there for the people you love if you are draining yourself. If you are giving too much of yourself to others, communicate those boundaries with love. Don’t forget to do the same for them. If you have a heavy topic you need to talk out with a friend, consider checking in with their headspace first by asking “I have something I need to talk about. Are you in a good headspace for this?” They won’t be able to help you if they are in a cluttered headspace of their own.
3. Caring What Others Think.
"What other people think of me is none of my business." - Gary Oldman
This is not news, but I really want to drill this home: Every minute you spend worrying about others, feeling less than, getting stressed about someone doing better than you, is a minute you could have spent on making yourself the most-bestest self you can be.
4. Your To Do list.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” ― David Allen
Make sure your tasks are recorded somewhere so they are not living in your head. Your brain is pretty spectacular, but it can’t remember all of the things all of the time. Recommended reading: Getting Things Done by David Allen.
5. A Busy Mind.
“If you don't have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.” - Zen Proverb
I cannot say this one enough – find time to meditate! Meditation is both incredibly simple and so very difficult, but it is worth the practice. We all have busy, overactive minds. Sit in stillness a few minutes a day. Look up a guided meditation. Download the Headspace app. The science is out - meditation changes your brain in amazing ways and It is the best medicine for your racing thoughts.
Mental clutter is just like physical clutter - sometimes you need to drag it all out of its container, sort it, and then declutter what is no longer serving you.
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