Do you struggle to concentrate on one thing? Do you spend a lot of time procrastinating?
Do you find it difficult to feel accomplished? Is it difficult for you to spend time in the moment?
Do you find yourself thinking about a million and one things at once? Are all these questions stressing you out?
If you’ve answered yes to any of those (apart from the last one maybe), then you could be suffering from a cluttered mind, which is a sign that you may be suffering from stress.
But not to worry, because if you’re reading this, then it is likely that you’re being intentional about de-stressing and decluttering your mind.
And intentionally trying to better your mental health is an amazing feat.
Mental clutter, to put it simply, is having too much to think about at once, and being unable to think clearly and make decisions because of it.
So with that in mind, let us help you out with that. Here are 9 ways to declutter your mind.
Write Down Your Stressors
Journaling is not something I’ve tried personally, mainly because it can be time consuming. But those who know me often joke about the sheer amount of lists that I write, but it isn’t without good reason.
Whenever I’m feeling like my mind is clogged up and I have too much to think about, I write down my stressors in a simple list.
This helps me to visualise what’s going on in my head and work out what I need to be focussing on.
Of everything I’m about to tell you, this is probably the most efficient way to declutter.
Whilst it doesn’t actually remove any of the stressors, it gives you the starting point and frees up space in your mind.
Improve Your Sleep
If I had a big old microphone that allowed me to share one message to everyone in the UK it would be this: Take Sleep Seriously.
In a recent survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, 66% of teenagers and 48% of adults agreed that poor sleep had a negative impact on their mental health.
There are many ways to improve your sleep, but common advice suggests that you could try to stop scrolling an hour before you intend to sleep, avoid caffeine after 2pm and have a hot shower or bath before you crawl under the duvet.
We also advise getting up when you wake up, waking up to natural light and of course getting 7-8 hours of decent kip per night.
Proper sleep does wonders for your brain function, it is an absolute necessity.
With a properly functioning brain, you will have so much more control over your thoughts and will be able to think much more rationally about everything that is currently cluttering your mind.
The logic behind this is simple, the more you systemise the simple things in your life, the more space you’ll free up in your head for the things that you really need to think about.
This doesn’t have to be too strenuous, but a morning and evening routine, during which you do everything on autopilot, should be great for clearing up that space.
Limit Scrolling Time
When we scroll, we take in so much information in such a short space of time.
This obviously isn’t going to help with our mental clutter, especially with apps such as TikTok and Twitter that often give us information in incredibly small chunks.
Scrolling can act as a constant distraction from your usual thoughts, allowing you less time to focus on the stuff that is cluttering up your mind, which can sometimes lead to feeling overwhelmed.
So it might be worth trying to limit how much of this information you take in and spend some time with your thoughts.
Turning my notifications off for certain apps and using app timers have been useful for me, I’d definitely recommend it.
Use Spaces for Their Intended Purposes
This one can be linked to the routine stuff, but it simply involves using spaces for their intended purposes, exactly what it says on the tin.
For example, eating dinner at the dinner table only, using your bed for sleeping only, using a desk for working etc.
You’ll hear us bang on about this a lot because it is a great way to effortlessly declutter your mind and separate your thoughts.
After doing this for a bit, you will automatically think about things that are related to that space. It becomes a lot easier to focus and aids your memory too.
Sort of like a Sherlock mind palace, only you will be able to send a well-constructed email, not solve a victorian murder spree. Depending on your to-do list of course.
Focus on the Present Moment
We often get very caught up in our stressors, tasks and worries. A quick trick to temporarily relieve yourself of the things that are taking up the valuable space in your mind.
We have taken you through how to do this in another article, which you can view here: https://mhmonster.org/how-to-bring-yourself-back-to-the-present-moment/
But for now, you may want to try a quick grounding exercise to practice bringing yourself back to the present. Try naming:
5 things you can see that are red (or any colour you want)
4 things you can hear
3 things that you can touch
2 things that you can smell
1 thing that you can taste.
Our brains are primed to only be able to focus on one thing at a time.
So when you are constantly switching your focus between different things, your mind is obviously going to have a bit of trouble recalling things, understanding your tasks and filtering out irrelevant information.
Multi-tasking is probably one of the reasons that you’ve ended up with mental clutter in the first place, so it is best to be conscious about focussing on one thing at a time.
You may want to try setting timers for each task, scheduling in time to focus on nothing and consciously diverting your thoughts with self-talk e.g. ‘I don’t have the time to think about this right now’.
Those of you that read our stuff will know how much we go on about the benefits of nature for your mental health. Again for good reason.
Spending just 20 minutes outdoors and in nature is enough to reduce your stress hormone levels, according to this study.
So if you’re looking for some relief from your cluttered mind then we suggest that you spend a bit of time outside.
Lowering your stress hormones will also allow you to think more clearly and creatively, arming you to de-clutter your mind in the process.
With a lot of things clogging up your brain, you’re going to have to work out what things to prioritise and what things that you can afford to clear away for another time.
Here’s a good trick to learn how to prioritise that I taught myself as a teenager, called the Stress Budget.
Step 1: Start by writing a list of your stressors. Everything you can think of at this moment of time.
- Assessment Deadline
- Holes in Socks
- Back Pain
- Poor Sleep
- Friendship Troubles
Step 2: Grade each item on your list from 1-5 based on how much they need your attention.
- Assessment Deadline: 5
- Holes in Socks: 1
- Back Pain: 3
- Poor Sleep: 4
- Friendship Troubles: 2
- Diet: 2
- News: 1
Step 3: Add a pound sign in front of each number.
- Assessment Deadline: £5
- Holes in Socks: £1
- Back Pain: £3
- Poor Sleep: £4
- Friendship Troubles: £2
- Diet: £2
- News: £1
Step 4: Set yourself a realistic budget. I tend to use £10, but you may increase it or decrease it depending on your capacity. You know yourself better than I do.
Step 5: Fit the items into your budget. You’ll see that you simply cannot ‘afford’ to focus on everything. Critical thinking is crucial here, and please ensure to concentrate on the things that are in your control. Write out the items that you can afford to fit in on a new, separate list.
- Assessment Deadline: £5
- Holes in Socks: £1
- Poor Sleep: £4
Total = £10
Step 6: Set yourself a timescale. The items you have chosen in your condensed list are what you’ll be focused on for that period of time (e.g. One Week).
Step 7: Address your more concise list of priorities.
Example: “For the next week I’m going to be working on my assessment, buying new socks and finding out how to improve my sleep. Because that is all that I can afford to focus on right now.”
So there we have it, 9 ways to declutter your mind. I could have included many more on here – but I’m sure you’re sick of us telling you to exercise and drink less coffee by now.
Best of luck!