Our minds, like many things, require upkeep, and maintenance to stay in good shape. Similar to the household cleaning process, spending time decluttering and organizing your mind can result in increased productivity, motivation, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment. Spring can be the perfect time to reallocate mental energy towards new goals. By clearing your mind of negativity, you will reduce stress, be more decisive, have more energy, and enjoy countless other benefits.
So what creates the negativity and mind-clutter in the first place? Negative thoughts, distorted beliefs, and ineffective habits are the culprits that prevent our minds from operating optimally. Negative self-talk also occupies valuable real estate in our minds. Self-critical feelings and thoughts manifest when we spend too much time thinking about past mistakes and ruminate on our shortcomings. You can free up mental space by normalizing and accepting your areas for growth, while at the same time, appreciating your ability to learn from and feel enhanced by your experiences.
Painful memories that replay in our heads can also clutter our minds. These memories often relate to our experiences in relationships. We hold on to the painful aspects of these experiences, which creates emotional build up. While it is normal to experience fear, shame, hurt, and anger, allowing them to remain undigested in your mind can be destructive. When we work to release the grievance, newly freed emotional energy can be invested in more positive areas of your life. This also holds true for regret and other sentiments that surface when you feel unsettled about your own actions towards another person. Even if it was unintentional, making a generous and sincere apology can remove unnecessary discomfort.
What about other factors that clutter our mind? Much in the same way that spring-cleaning your home begins with emptying and sorting through drawers, journaling can be a useful way to start reorganizing and simplifying your mental space. Writing your thoughts can take the power out of seemingly unmanageable emotions and give you a different perspective. Without thinking too hard, write exactly what comes to mind in the moment. Eventually, you might decide to make journaling a daily habit to maintain awareness of any mind clutter.
Working with a behavioral health professional is another useful way to begin “straightening up”. Therapy creates a safe environment for removing books from the metaphorical bookshelf of our minds. We can then decide which ones to keep, and place them back in an order that is more meaningful.
Meditation allows us to take a mental inventory and identify what has been cluttering our minds. It can help free you from disappointments of the past and anxieties of the future by bringing you back to the present. It also fosters detachment from thoughts so that you can observe them and learn to question their validity from a mindful distance.
Similar to meditation, prayer, hiking and yoga are excellent examples of acts that promote internal reflection and allow time to tune in to your inner world. Technology by design, fills our minds with various bits of information, some more useful than others. The extraneous information can make us feel stressed or depressed. Consequently, a vacation from technology also provides a way to give your mind a break.
Cleaning your physical space will always have a positive effect on your emotional state, and taking notice of your physical surroundings can help identify what emotionally needs attention. However, spring cleaning the house is often more automatic than the steps recommended above. This spring season, why not challenge yourself to a thorough decluttering, and include your mind on the list of spaces to clean.