How to declutter your mind the right way
Over 60% of Americans wake up feeling fatigued and sluggish every morning. While there are many things responsible for this, one cause that rarely gets recognised – or addressed – is mental clutter.
With the number of ‘gadgets’ competing for our interest (phone calls, virtual meetings, emails, notifications,) most of us feel drained every day because the distractions never seem to stop. And eventually, they all add up to clutter our mind.
Mental clutter is a lot like physical clutter in the sense that both can make us feel overwhelmed and bogged down. The main difference is that mental clutter doesn't necessarily come from our physical surroundings but rather from anything that makes our minds feel cluttered or overworked. This could be anything from having too many things on our to-do list to worrying about things that are out of our control.
The good news is, there are ways to declutter your mind, focus, and do what matters to create a balanced and healthy mind. In this article, we will show you how to take control and find some peace in a world that never stops sending unnecessary information your way.
How information overload affect our attention and cause clutter
On average, a person can process about 34 gigabytes of information in a single day. This includes both explicit information, such as facts and figures, as well as implicit information, such as social cues and emotional responses. Sadly, in today’s information-driven society, people are forced to take on more information than they can handle. The results? information overload and, by extension, mental clutter.
In recent studies, 65.2% of UK employees said that their work is negatively impacted by the high amount of data they have to process at work. 91% of US workers even admit that they sometimes delete or discard work-related information without reading it fully. What’s more, information overload has been estimated to cost the US economy a minimum of $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation.
For individuals who work online or spend a significant amount of time using digital devices, the amount of information they are exposed to can be even higher. The constant notifications, emails, and messages that come through these devices can be overwhelming and can make it difficult to focus and process information effectively. There’s always a loss of time and energy when your mind is cluttered. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and stress and can even have negative impacts on mental health.
It is important for individuals who work online or spend a lot of time using digital devices to take breaks and find ways to disconnect from the constant flow of information. This can help them to better manage their workload, improve their mental health, and perform at their best.
Five ways to declutter your mind
Mental clutter is not only caused by the excessive amount of information we take in, but also by the poor quality of what we allow into our minds. ‘Poor quality of information’ refers to information that are uneccesary to us or what we're trying to achieve. So, too much information, irrelevant information, a lack of alignment between all the information you receive at one time, and not enough time given to process the information you receive – all of these factors can create a perfect storm of mental clutter.
But how do you stop these?
- Mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness is a powerful practice that involves cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. By consciously directing our attention to the sensations of our breath, the sensations in our body, or the sights and sounds around us, we can develop a deep sense of self-awareness and clarity. Importantly, mindfulness encourages us to observe our experiences without judgment or criticism, allowing us to accept them as they are.
One effective way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. You don't necessarily have to venture out into nature to find peace; instead, you can discover it within yourself. Start by finding a comfortable seated position, ensuring that your body is relaxed and at ease. Gently close your eyes and drive your attention to your breath, feeling the inhales and exhales as they naturally occur. As you engage in this practice, it is normal for your mind to wander and become distracted by thoughts or external stimuli. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath without any judgment towards yourself. As you continue to meditate, you'll likely notice thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations arising, and the key is to observe them without getting caught up in them or labeling them as good or bad. By doing so, you cultivate a sense of detachment and develop a more compassionate and accepting attitude towards yourself and your experiences.
By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your days, you can enhance your ability to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Remember, the practice of mindfulness is not about striving for perfection or achieving a particular state of mind. It is about gently bringing your attention back to the present moment, again and again, with an open and non-judgmental mindset.
When you find your mind filled with thoughts, consider journaling. By taking the time to write down your thoughts, whether in a dedicated journal or simply on paper, you can gain clarity, untangle complex emotions, and find a sense of release. It provides a personal space for self-reflection and allows you to explore your inner world without judgment, ultimately paving the way for growth and a renewed sense of perspective.
- Practice digital wellness
Digital wellness is the practice of using technology in a healthy and balanced way. It also involves making conscious choices about how and when to use digital devices and platforms to maintain a healthy mind.
Learn to turn off notifications, use flight- mode, and remove unnecessary apps from your phone. Also, monitor your habits to discover how much you need to change. Be conscious of the number of hours you spend on these devices per day, and which apps you use the most.
- Take breaks
Taking regular breaks can help to declutter the mind and improve focus and productivity.
Here are breaks to focus on:
Brain breaks: these are short breaks that allow you to step away from your work or other mental tasks and give your brain a chance to rest and recharge. To take a brain break, you can try activities like going for a walk, stretching, or doing a quick meditation. The important thing is to find an activity that allows you to fully disengage from your work and clear your mind.
Active breaks for workplace wellbeing
Integrating active breaks into your work routine promotes workplace wellbeing. These breaks serve as refreshing pauses, breaking up monotonous hours and revitalizing your energy. Through short bursts of movement, including stretching and engaging the spine in the three planes of motion, you honour your body's innate need for motion. While they don't replace regular physical exercise, these active breaks invigorate the body, promote better posture, and contribute to a healthier, more balanced work environment.
In conclusion, by implementing these strategies as part of your daily routine, you can embark on the journey of decluttering your mind in the right way. Remember to be compassionate towards yourself and approach the process gradually. With perseverance and practice, you will develop the skills to effectively manage your thoughts and emotions, leading to a profound sense of inner calm and well-being.