What comes to mind when you think “declutter your mind”?
To me, a cluttered mind is the sensation of a brain so full of thoughts, responsibilities and so on that it can be increasingly difficult to focus on or accomplish much.
Sometimes, you can’t effectively regulate your emotions because of it. Making good decisions becomes harder. And generally, your mental state suffers.
When your mind is too cluttered, you can quite easily find yourself in a place where you’re trudging through life, always tired, feeling uninspired.
Luckily, you can do something about it to overcome a cluttered mind or keep things from getting that bad. By building awareness of what a cluttered mind feels like, and identifying steps you can take to reduce the feeling of overwhelm, you can regularly declutter your mind and feel more at ease.
What does it meant to declutter your mind, and why should you do it regularly?
Ever decluttered your home or your inbox? Of course you have (at least I hope!).
When you declutter your mind you follow the same idea.
It’s involves taking regular inventory of what’s going on up there, and clearing out what is causing you harm to make room for the positive, as well as peace and focus.
Many of us carry stress, worry, and an overwhelmingly long to-do list of errands, projects, and general responsibilities every single day. Not to mention the general noise from living in a world where we are connected 24/7. (Or at least, that’s become the default, easiest option).
Before long, we find our minds overly stimulated. Always firing. Always on and overthinking. Never at peace.
All that mental clutter takes up energy. If you don’t declutter your mind regularly, you may be running at a much lower energy reserve than you might realize.
If your mind is cluttered, your body will feel the effects too.
17 ways to declutter your mind
Luckily, very simple actions can help you declutter your mind quite effectively. My recommendations may seem obvious — but like anything growth related, you have to actually commit to do the work and on a regular basis to start to notice the effects.
And small steps make a huge difference. Try out some of the strategies below and see what works for you.
1. Simplify or organize your physical surroundings.
When your physical surrounding are a mess, so too is your mind. There’s definitely a link, especially when you add other stressors into the mix!
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or like you don’t quite have the energy to live optimally, take a look at your physical surroundings.
See if you can simplify things so that you aren’t forced to make so many decisions on a daily basis (and have less clutter to keep up with). This could mean simplifying your wardrobe, or overall just owning less things (or owning things in proportion to your living space).
Or at a minimum, schedule some time to clean up and organize your living space (or office space!) on a weekly basis.
2. Take some time each day to do absolutely nothing.
When was the last time you just sat in complete silence? No reaching for your phone, no music, no conversation. Just you and whatever thoughts come to mind.
Does the sound of that make you uncomfortable? Most people will probably cringe at the idea. Or maybe not cringe, but struggle to actually sit in silence for more than 30 seconds.
You might not realize how infrequently you truly do nothing. With so many distractions at hand, why sit in silence and face the depths of your thoughts?
But failing to completely rest your mind can take a toll over time. Even when you think you’re relaxing, you may not be truly resting your mind.
Try spending just a few minutes each day sitting in silence and doing absolutely nothing. See if you can notice a difference in mood or overall energy levels. It may even help you become more comfortable with the thoughts you routinely avoid, helping you confront other areas of self growth.
3. Write it down.
When you have too much on your mind, write it down. Release some of that burden to have to keep everything inside.
It’s an effective way to better understand what you have going on, as well as a way to process it to the extent that you need to.
4. Take a break from consuming content.
Feeling drained? Stop passively consuming. No matter what type of content — social media scrolling, news articles, television.
Give your mind a break.
Try doing something instead. Instead of reading, write. Instead of watching videos of people exercising, go do it yourself.
Content will always be there, but that doesn’t mean you have to consume it all times.
Go do something for yourself. Apply what you’ve learned from consuming. That should be the point of consuming it in the first place, right?
5. Simplify and re-organize your online world.
Do you receive promotional emails that are just taking up space in your inbox and tempting you unnecessarily?
When you scroll through social media, are you coming across accounts that make you feel jealous, inadequate, or not good enough?
Are your technology habits not currently helping you reach your goals but rather leaving you drained?
These could all be signs that you have not been keeping up with regularly de-cluttering your online world.
Spend some time at a minimum monthly taking an inventory of what is causing you more harm than good and re-organize your online world the same way you do your physical space.
6. Focus on one thing at a time.
A much as we like to think we can do many things at once, the human brain just does not work effectively that way.
By switching from task to task, your mind ends up all over the place. And, you don’t actually accomplish as much as you’d think.
So focus on one task at a time. It may not feel natural at first, because if you’re like most people, you’ve probably become accustomed to multi-tasking.
You can design your environment to make it a little easier to focus or at least get into a rhythm with the task at hand.
7. Talk to someone.
Similar to writing, talking to someone can help release some of the burden that mental clutter can cause.
It is also an effective way to better understand and process what may have you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or fatigued.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve internally been struggling, feeling like I don’t know what’s going on with me lately. And then I start to voice my incoherent thoughts to a friend and within 30 minutes I feel like I’ve made a personal breakthrough and have a much better understanding of what’s going on in my mind.
And usually, it’s a perfectly reasonable explanation — nothing wrong with me after all! (yay)
Talking, writing, just getting out of your own head helps you make sense of things.
8. Focus on your breathing.
This one probably sounds overly simple, I know.
How often do you really think about your breathing day to day? But so much of our emotions can be regulated through our breathing.
When I feel anxious, my breathing is usually quite shallow. I’ve learned to tell when I’m anxious by the way my breathing changes, causing a tightness in my chest.
Bringing my attention to my breathing and focusing on taking deep breaths for even just one minute can really help center me and set me up to better confront my racing mind and help me slow down.
Once my breathing is under control, my thoughts can be reined in.
9. List your core values. What is essential to you? Are you living by it?
I like to think of listing your core values as going back to the basics.
It’s a great way to center yourself, get some perspective, and remind yourself what is truly important.
It can be so easy to get caught up in tiny details of our day to day life. Details that a lot of the time really don’t matter (matter in the sense of they don’t always impact our ability to live by our core values).
Sometimes, all we need in order to tune out the noise or block out the excess stuff going on in our mind is to remind ourselves of what matters most.
Once we have that clarity, it gets a bit easier to dismiss the mental chatter that causes a cluttered mind.
10. Get some fresh air.
The best thing you can do for just about anything you’re going through. Enough said.
11. Take a break from technology — particularly social media scrolling & TV binging.
This one goes hand in hand with taking a break from consuming content, but takes it a step further.
Your friends will survive if you don’t respond to a text for a few hours.
If you miss a call, that’s what voicemail is for.
If you’re looking for true mental calm, regularly scheduled technology breaks needs to be part of your action plan. We just really don’t need to stare at screens all day every day!
Heading out into nature for me is always the best excuse to take a screen break. Nature always makes me forget about staying connected. It could also be as simple as charging your phone in another room while you cook dinner or going for a walk around the block without your phone.
12. Slow down. Appreciate what’s immediately in front of you.
I don’t even mean do one thing on your to-do list at a time. I mean, scrap the to do list.
Enjoying a home cooked lunch? Focus on the flavors of the meal.
Hosting some friends for an evening? Tune into the conversation.
Everything else can wait, it will still be there and you’ll get a lot more joy out of the present moment if you’re, well, present. Our thoughts can take us a million miles away. Slowing down reminds us to bring our appreciation to the here and now.
13. Practice mindful moments — set aside 1 minute at regularly scheduled intervals to check in with yourself.
Set an alarm on your phone to go off at random times of the day.
When it goes off, check in with yourself.
What emotion am I feeling right this second? If it’s negative, how can I make the best use of it? What could I do to make things better?
We forget to check in with ourselves. It’s simple, but somehow never a priority.
Regularly scheduled mindful moments can really improve your self awareness which is key to any type of personal growth.
14. Take accountability.
I’ve come to realize that sometimes my mental clutter can come from lying to myself.
From convincing myself that I’m not doing X Y or Z for some valid reason. But deep down I usually know the truth. I’m scared, etc.
If you’re not willing to be honest with yourself, it eventually leads to mental clutter. If you don’t take accountability for what’s in your control, it adds to the clutter.
15. What “difficult” thing are you avoiding? Stop putting it off and just do it. So much burden will be released and your mind will thank you.
Something as simple as avoiding scheduling a dentist appointment or [name other adulting responsibility] can contribute to the mental clutter.
It’s usually not that difficult. But the longer you avoid it, the longer it stays on your mind. Combine it with other stressors and well, you get the point. It doesn’t help you, it hurts you.
16. Make time for regular self reflection.
You can take your own inventory on some of these questions. It’s most effective if you set aside dedicated time to just jot down your answers.
We think we’re on top of what’s going on with us. But I’m telling you, unless you stop to regularly reflect with intention, life will always move too fast for you.
Make time. Your mind and general well being will always need it.
17. Create a “self-distancing” strategy.
You know how it always feels so much easier to give your friend amazing advice? But much harder to follow that advice yourself? Self-distancing helps you bridge that gap.
Self-distancing refers to an individual’s ability to reflect upon personal experiences through the perspective of an outside observer versus a more self-focused point of view.
By looking at yourself and your life as if you’re coming from a 3rd party perspective, you remove yourself from your own situation. This can help you see things more clearly and objectively.
Seeing things more clearly helps you be honest with yourself and take accountability for what’s contributing to your mental clutter.
There you have it! 17 methods you can use to regularly declutter your mind.
With so much going on all the time in our lives and in the world around us, it can feel difficult to find the calm that our minds so desperately need in order for us to function at our best.
I hope I’ve at least helped to convince you that simple actions when taken routinely can make a huge difference on our mental state.
If you found value in the list above, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear how you declutter your mind 🙂