When we’re at home or at work going through the same familiar routine, or when we’re feeling the pressure to prepare for a big family event, presentation, or exam, there are days when our worries, projects, errands, obligations, and many other responsibilities can build up and create a lot of clutter and chaos in our minds.
If your shoulders have been feeling tense all day, if you don’t feel that you have your life under control, if you’re worried that you might have forgotten something important that needs to be done, if you have a half dozen things you need to do but can’t get to them as quickly as you want, there are simple ways to get a grip on it all and be relaxed and calm.
1. Take slow, deep breaths
Getting rid of the physical tension that has taken over your body can be more effective than we realize in helping us declutter the stress in our minds. The mind and body are connected at the deepest levels of our consciousness, that giving our bodies a chance to relax can kickstart our process of relaxing our minds. Remember the last time you were feeling nervous, and you may remember that your breaths were very shallow. Inhaling deep breaths slowly and mindfully with closed eyes slows down our heart rate, and we should immediately notice the racing thoughts winding down with it.
Taking deep breaths brings more oxygen into the bloodstream and improves our circulation and health. Don’t let stress deprive your body of this vital source of life. Slowly and mindfully savor each and every breath, and thank the air and the plants for providing us with this invisible elixir of life. Once your mind slows down even slightly, you’re off to a good start for the next step.
2. Write down everything that’s on your mind
Write down everything that is on your mind. It can be about anything – work, family, leisure, life goals, hobbies, the home. The goal is to put everything that’s on your mind on paper so it’s objectively visible to you. Many of us already have to-do lists, planners, or organizational apps. But writing it out by hand with pen and paper and physically unloading your mind of the clutter can be calming, especially if you make it a daily ritual.
Sometimes we don’t write down certain things that keep occupying our minds in our to-do list or planner, because we don’t think they belong there. If your mind is occupied by a new life goal you want to set, hobbies you want to get to, or fears and worries about life, then that should go on the list, too. Then, you can identify and prioritize the ones that need to be done soon and focus on them first.
3. Tidy your surroundings
Visual clutter and disorder can be distracting to your mind and it slows down your productivity– for example, when you can’t find something that you’re looking for. Tidying up your physical surroundings, like papers and files, books, clothes, bills, etc. will also help you mentally organize all the things you need to do. It’s the easiest to start decluttering by starting with your immediate surroundings, and the sense of accomplishment you gain from it will energize you and motivate you to tackle the rest.
4. Think of life as a workbook
Thinking of life as a workbook that’s filled with new things to do, new problems to solve, and new lessons to learn from is a healthy perspective that changes the way we perceive the things we face. It empowers us to handle the toughest problems with poise and with a positive mindset.
When we feel overwhelmed by the clutter in our minds, we may put off the more difficult things we have to do because we don’t feel confident. But if they are important to us, then the quicker we can get through them, and the calmer and more peaceful we will be – and that’s our goal. Each problem in our workbook is filled with valuable lessons that lead us to a happier and better you that’s too precious to keep putting off.