declutter your mind

Pandemic stress: Declutter your mind for your mental wellbeing

With the constant stream of news about the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress of life in lockdown, the mind can easily become cluttered. To replenish your peace and regain balance, it is important to declutter your mental space, especially now
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The human mind is a storehouse of thoughts, imagination, dreams and memories. That’s what makes it fascinating and special. However, the mind can be a tricky beast to master. With an endless list of things to do and the continuous influx of information entering your headspace, you may feel overwhelmed by mental clutter. This is especially true due to the barrage of news and information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic heading your way and the added stress and anxiety due to the lockdown.

Just like a cluttered workspace hampers productivity, a cluttered mind can do the same. Essentially, the mind needs to be organised and calm to be able to filter information and get things done. And to do so, it is pertinent to clear the mental clutter that accumulates over time. Decluttering the mind helps you refresh, refocus and function in an optimal manner.

Thankfully, there are simple and effective ways to get rid of your mental clutter. You can start by using these effective tips to declutter your mind, which will help you get more done, gain clarity and stop feeling frazzled during these challenging times.

Declutter your surroundings

Physical clutter in your surroundings can often declutter your mind. With the coronavirus looming large and the need to keep our homes sanitised at all times, decluttering your physical space is the right step in the direction. The pile of paperwork lying on your desk, the unwanted clothes stuffed at the back of your closet and the boxes full of junk that you don’t need are probably all weighing you down. Clutter and disorganisation can lead to increased stress levels, which have the power to cause physical and mental harm. Also, a cluttered environment comes in the way of your relaxation and time-off. Dedicate at least 10 minutes of your day to tidying up and putting things away in their designated places. A clean living space can provide a sense of control and offer the mind and body a respite from the pandemic stress you may be facing.

Write down your thoughts

Take a few minutes every day to reflect and write down anything that is weighing on your mind. Self-reflection helps you reconnect with what matters most to you so that you can let go of everything else that doesn’t deserve your attention. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to write down your thoughts, anxieties and worries. Your tool of choice can be a diary, the notepad on your desktop or even an app on your phone. Noting down your thoughts and pent-up emotions as they occur helps you cope with stress and boost your mental health—an ideal remedy to declutter your mind during the ongoing pandemic.

Prioritise your tasks

Most of the time, a disorganised mind can be set straight by simply organising your priorities and planning your day well in advance. Without clear priorities, it is difficult to manage your time efficiently and work towards your goals. Prioritising your tasks requires you to identify and understand each task at hand. Rather than treating everything as important, priorities help you choose what you need to focus on first. Once you prioritise your tasks, you need to plan and set the time needed for each task. Prepare a daily task list with serial numbers and deadlines against each task to be marked upon completion. When you identify a particular task as a priority, you are more likely to devote undivided focus to it instead of pushing it off to a later day.

Avoid multi-tasking

To keep up with our hectic lifestyles and demanding schedules, we can safely say that we’ve mastered the art of multitasking—or so we think. Added to that, the ‘new normal’ of working from home has upended our daily routines. We may think that trying to do ten things at once is the only way we can get everything done. However, the issue with multitasking is when you shift to another task, part of your brain remains focused on the previous unfinished task. When you keep switching back and forth between tasks, you are constantly putting unnecessary pressure on the brain, which can reduce productivity. Research conducted by Stanford University suggests that multitasking can lower efficiency and cognitive control. Instead of trying to do two or more things at the same time, it is useful to prioritise your tasks and assign them a fixed time. Not only does it sharpen your focus, but also enables you to actually get things done.

Let go of the past

One reason people have mental clutter is because they are stuck in the past. Their minds process unpleasant memories that do not serve any purpose. It is important to let go of everything that might have hindered your journey in the past. These could be missed opportunities, broken relationships, past grievances, and so on. Allowing victimising thoughts to take up space in your mind could be catastrophic for your mental wellbeing, especially during stressful times such as the ongoing pandemic. Stop the flow of negative thinking by diverting attention to a gratitude mindset. Just like cleaning a sink full of dirty dishes, old thoughts must be cleaned out to effectively declutter your mind.

Limit news and social media intake

We live in the age of the internet and are tied to our devices. There is growing evidence to indicate that excessive exposure to upsetting news and the use of social media, especially during stressful times, could lead to mental health issues. Limit the time you spend mindlessly browsing the internet, social media and news channels. Steer clear of the never-ending stream of alarming and fake news stories, and only rely on trustworthy sources of information. Just because it is easy to access does not mean it’s helpful or healthy for your mind. Be disciplined about how much time you spend on social media, set yourself a time limit and stick to it.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present—experiencing thoughts, feelings and sensations but not judging them. Mindfulness helps quiet the mind and allows you to focus on one thing at a time instead of worrying about everything—something we can all benefit from during these uncertain times. Meditation is one of the most effective and popular ways to practice mindfulness. Taking out as little as 5 minutes every day to meditate can help you declutter your mind and feel more present and focused. This will help you manage your stress, anxiety and the whirlwind of challenging emotions you may face in life.

Take a break

If you’re feeling distracted and overwhelmed throughout the day, especially in these difficult times, it’s time for a breather. Without a break, you are bound to feel more stressed and your mind will remain cluttered with worry and intrusive thoughts. Regular breaks are essential to refresh your mind, reduce fatigue and improve productivity. Watching your favourite show, connecting with friends and family, or playing with your kids or pets are all ways to take a break and unwind. Also, squeeze in some time to look after yourself and give yourself some ‘me time’. Such self-care activities can make a world of difference in decluttering your mind—be it a nice bubble bath, a long nap, eating healthy, exercising or just enjoying your own company.

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