This post forms part of the A-Z of Self-Care for Busy Parents series. If you missed the introductory post you can read it here.
Decluttering seems to be the latest big craze, especially since Marie Kondo arrived on the scene. While I’m sure that most of us would benefit a great deal (myself especially) from a good declutter of our homes, we tend not to think about decluttering our minds.
If you think about it, we all have so much going on on a daily basis it can be hard to keep track of every little detail. Before you know it you start forgetting things all the time, whether it’s as simple as where you put your car keys, missing someone’s birthday, or forgetting about an appointment or that really important thing you wanted to mention during your morning meeting.
In today’s digital age we’re being bombarded with information all the time, it’s no wonder our brain’s can’t hold on to everything. If we don’t do something about it we find ourselves performing well below our usual capabilities in all areas of our lives.
If you really want to take better care of yourself, you need to set aside some time clear some of that mental clutter so that you can start performing at full capacity again. Below I have listed just a few ways you can begin that clear out, and they are all really simple and quick:
Get a blank sheet of paper or a notebook (seems to be much more effective than a computer for this exercise) and set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Now write down everything that is on your mind right now, all those jobs you want to do, all the things you need to remember. Anything really. The aim of this exercise is to just get it all out of your head so that you have room to think. Afterwards you can put this piece of paper away to look back at later so that you can use it to write to-do lists if needs be.
Similar to a brain dump, this is less about things you need to do and more about writing down whatever comes into your head. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start writing (again, with good old pen and paper). Even if you don’t know what to write, write ‘I don’t know what to write’ over and and over until something else comes through, whatever you do, keep the pen moving across the page for the full time. By keeping the pen moving no matter what, you start to bypass the analytical mind and tap into your subconscious, you’ll be amazed at what comes out at the end. It can be a really cathartic experience. I use it for writer’s block sometimes and it always works.
Keeping a daily journal can really help you process your day, or set you up for the one ahead. By getting all those thoughts out of your head you clear space to get on with what you need to. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, a tatty old notebook will do.
I’d never really done any meditation until I was asked to review an app called Welzen last year. Ever since I have become a little hooked. I go through periods when I don’t meditate for a few days or weeks and I suddenly realise how much more tension I’m carrying and how stressed I am as a result. I try to get up before the kids every morning and spent 10-15 following a guided mindfulness mediation and it always helps me start the day from a state of relaxation and with a clear mind.
Get Out In Nature
Getting out into the fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature is an amazing way to still the mind. I always feel better after a long walk out with the dogs in the open countryside. If you can’t escape the city, use what you have. Too many of us get outside and barely notice our surroundings, we just rush from a-b. When you’re outside today, keep a look out for the nature around you, if you look you’ll see it everywhere. From trees, to hedges, flowers and hanging baskets, to blades of grass pushing their way through eh cracks in the pavement.
As much as it pains me to admit it, exercise always helps clear my mind and leave me feeling more energised, I just need to push past the initial resistance to getting started. It can be as simple as getting out for a walk though or taking the kids to the park with a ball. Get the heart pumping and the blood flowing and not only will the endorphins lighten your mood, the increased oxygen to your brain will get that working better too.
Let It Go
This is perhaps the hardest one but also the most important. Are you holding on to something? A comment someone made, socks left on the floor, a difficult day at work, maybe someone just cut you up at the junction and you’re still angry about it? We all have a tendency to run things through in our mind over and over and get ourselves more and more worked up about something until it becomes much bigger. Stop. Don’t let whatever it was ruin the rest of your day. Let it go and move on. Any of the methods above are great for helping with this.
To-do lists have a habit of being never-ending and sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees and know where to start. Get it all written down and then prioritise. Are some tasks really necessary? If not, dump them. Can other tasks be done by someone else? Delegate them. Out of what’s left put them in order of priority and focus only on those things that absolutely have to get done today.
I mentioned at the top how the digital age has us being bombarded with information all day every day, mainly from social media. If you’re feeling a bit frazzled switch off all your electronic devices like phones, iPads and computers for a few hours (a whole day would be better but not always possible). You’ll be amazed how freeing it is after a while and it gives your brain the time it needs to process everything it already has to deal with.
So there you have it, just a few quick ways to help ease some of that mental clutter. If you give any of these methods a try (or have any others of your own to share), please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
Need more tips for self-care? Don’t want to miss the rest of the series? Enter your details in the box below to receive it in your inbox every week. And remember to bookmark the introductory post (here), the links to each new post will be added on to there as they are published. I also have a post with 19 Quotes To Help Declutter Your Mind with FREE printable versions of every quote.