New Leaf Counseling Group
Declutter Your Head and Home
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
We want to share another tool with you today that you can add to your toolbox for dealing with anxiety. Today, at New Leaf, we are going to be talking about mental clutter and the negative effects it can have the anxiety it can cause you to feel. By becoming aware of what mental clutter is and using a simple but effective strategy to "declutter" our mind, we can reduce anxiety.
What Is Mental Clutter?
Mental clutter is all of the random stuff in your head that you're keeping track of. It could be appointments, things you need to do, and that never-ending list of projects you want to tackle eventually.
We all have mental clutter, but when we let it become too much, it can add to how anxious we feel.
By just becoming aware of the clutter of thoughts in your head, you're already one step into clearing it out. Pay attention when random thoughts pop in your head. Sometimes it's in the middle of the day while you're busy working on something completely unrelated. Frequently, they pop up at night when you're trying to relax or go to sleep. Become aware of them, so that you can then start to tackle the next step, dealing with mental clutter.
How To Reduce Mental Clutter
Now that you've become aware of your mental clutter, it's time to start reducing and eliminating it. The tools to do this are simple; all you need is a pen and a notebook. You're going to do a "brain dump", which is the mental equivalent of dumping the contents of your closet in the floor so you can decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw out. Start by writing down every random thought you have from what you're cooking for dinner tonight to that trip your family is taking in 10 months. Write down everything you need to remember, appointments you need to keep, etc.
Write down all the projects you want to tackle and the goals you want to accomplish. Don't edit, don't judge, write it all down. Don't stop until you can't think of anything else.
This process can be mentally exhausting, but also incredibly freeing and one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Simply writing it all down will get it out of your head and make you feel less mentally cluttered. You can start going through your long list, prioritizing the importance of them and start making a plan for how you want to check things off your list. I promise you'll feel calmer once you do this.
Declutter Your Home
In addition to mental clutter, a cluttered and disorganized environment can have a significant impact on the amount of anxiety you feel.
When things around us aren't in order, it can cause our minds to feel just as scattered.
Feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and stress can result when our surroundings are a mess. Many of us don't realize how much a disorganized environment can affect us in all areas of our lives. A messy space can cause your senses to be overstimulated. Your brain can get overloaded with too many stimuli, primarily of visual means.
When your brain tries to take in and process all of this information, it can become overwhelmed by trying to manage the unnecessary stimuli. When there's clutter, most of the items are probably not necessary. When your brain is overworked and can stress you out through excess stuff, you won't feel relaxed. Our minds need to have a sense of closure to move from an alert phase.
When your brain is overstimulated and on-edge for extended periods, you're bound to feel anxious or nervous, not to mention sensitive, flustered, and overwhelmed. A messy space is also emotionally frustrating because it can lead to wasted time and lost items.
Cleaning up messes may seem overwhelming and impossible, but when you look at it in stages, you can break down the problem to where it won't feel as big. You can also manage this by assigning tasks to roommates or family so that everyone shares in the load- it doesn't have to be all on yourself. If you live alone, break the job down into segments.
Breaking down a daunting job will make it seem more doable.
You don't have to do all of the laundry, start one load. Your kitchen doesn't have to be spotless immediately, try to start with one task, like the dishes. Clean one room or even one section of your space at a time; this approach calms your mind by communicating that there's an end in sight. You'll be surprised, once you get started, to see that end approaching as you tackle it all in baby steps.
Declutter now to make your cleaning and maintaining clean easier in the future. Create piles for things you plan to keep and donate. Breaking things down always makes them seem more manageable and increases your motivation to get started and keep going.
When you declutter your home and mind, you will notice immense relief. The reward will be lower levels of anxiety and the way you feel when the job is done, and you can relax. We'd love to hear ideas for how you declutter your home and head! Comment below and follow us on Instagram for more tips to reduce anxiety along with other helpful information.