Clutter! It’s a trendy word as people Marie Kondo their home. The Netflix sensation showcasing Kondo’s decluttering strategies, have people clearing out their homes and deciding if all that stuff brings them emotional joy. It’s not just physical clutter that bogs down your mind and brings down your mood. It’s mental too! These powerful tools will help you declutter your mind.
Decluttering your life
Are you drowning in paperwork, always losing your keys or glasses, and adding more data to your plan? Are you beginning to worry that you may no longer be a “collector” and that hoarding tendencies are setting in?
Clutter goes beyond our closets. It’s also in our mind.
You may feel overwhelmed, stressed, or burnout when too much mental clutter fills your mind.
You can feel this way due to work, commitments in your personal life, or world events. When there’s uncertainty in the world or your life, it’s difficult to process all your emotions and deal with the impact to your life. It’s a lot all at once.
Perhaps you feel the way you do because of something that happened in the past. Still holding on to that grudge from so long ago that you don’t even remember what made you upset? Fantasizing about seeing what goes around comes around for that one “special” person” (although it often seems it doesn’t at all)?
Physical and mental clutter take a toll over time. They
- Drain your energy.
- Serve as a distraction from what you value.
- Stop you from being truly present.
You spend so much time in the past, you rob yourself of future joy because you are always on the search for something you lost. Or you’re redoing work because you can’t locate the original copy.
Marie Kondo and the minimalist and Tiny Home movement may be making clutter a trendy term. But, it’s also a reminder that we all should declutter our lives from time to time.
There is no better time than today. Especially, with stay-at-home orders, changes to lifestyle, loss of work, and uncertainty about the future as we adapt to a world where a life-threatening virus is a concern.
Use this unique opportunity as a time to invest in your self-care.
How to eliminate mental clutter
So where do you start when you’re ready to make a change and eliminate mental clutter? These powerful steps will help you clear your mind and find happiness.
I know it seems both trite and obvious, but the first place to start is at the beginning.
First, recognize that your life is full of clutter. Is it physical and mental, or just one?
Once you acknowledge your life is in chaos, you’ll be able to open the door for new opportunities.
We also need to be willing to make room in our lives for the impending birth of our dreams. This might mean emptying our life of clutter such as wasted time, energy, resources, or draining relationships. These things can jeopardize our dreams by distracting us at a time when we should be more focused than ever.
~ Christine Caine, A Life Unleashed: Giving Birth to Your Dreams
Good things are about to come your way! Acknowledge the past, and start making decisions for the future!
Set goals and create accountability so you achieve them.
2. Identify your collection triggers
There are reasons your closet is full of clothes. Are you too busy to clean it, trying to lose weight, or perhaps there’s a sentimental attachment to some of the clothes?
Do you think, “I might need it one day” or “Waste not, want not?”
Now apply this to your mental clutter. Are you hung up on something because of insecurities?
There are all sorts of clutter triggers including chronic overwhelm, keeping up with the Joneses, reluctance to face your anger/rage, disappointment, depression, dysfunctional relationships where the costs far outweigh the benefits, an unconscious habit, mindlessness, and myriad other root causes or combinations thereof.
Is your mind overwhelmed because you have an endless To-Do list, and can’t get out from under it? That’s mentally draining! Focus on one thing at a time. It’s one of the great tools to finding work-life balance.
Does social media make you feel overwhelmed? What about watching the news? If this happens, especially during this public health threat, take a technology timeout. Focus this extra time in your life on you and your family.
This is a unique opportunity where you’re not running from one commitment to another. Take time to breathe. Focus on the present. And, be ok with doing nothing. Sometimes that’s the best way to clear your mind.
3. Be grateful
Keep a gratitude journal for a short time. It’ll empower you to reflect on what makes you happy? It goes back to the Kondo lesson. What brings you joy in your home and your life? Keep those things! Toss the rest.
When you write down what you’re grateful for, you’ll look at all those “things” in your home and on your To-Do list with new clarity. You’ll prioritize better and appreciate what’s truly important.
4. Let it go
Now that you know what truly makes you happy, you’re ready to let it go!
Donate those clothes you no longer want. Get rid of that endless list. Be intentional every day, and set goals.
5. Develop a plan and timeframe to declutter
Set a goal to unburden your physical environment and a timeline to traverse your emotional obstacle course. Be realistic, be specific, solicit support, track your progress and celebrate any forward momentum (which may sometimes mean just avoiding any back-stepping), and visualize the future state you want for yourself.
Recognize it will take time to declutter, just as it took time to become a “turbo-collector.” Take small steps.
If you need more ideas to get to this point, these are 10 ways to declutter your mind for clarity, focus, peace, and balance.
Here’s how to set a goal like this, and accomplish it!
Some resources to aid in your journey:
What mental clutter are you getting rid of?
As a physician, healthcare executive at a Fortune 100 company, and integrative health practitioner, Z. Colette Edwards, MD, MBA knows the unique value of a holistic, whole-person approach to health and well-being. She also understands the challenges health inequities can present. Known as “The Insight Doctor,” she offers guidance and powerful tools that prepare your body, mind, and spirit for menopause, stress, and inflammatory bowel disease. Lastly, Dr. Edwards coaches individuals in the development of self-advocacy and health system navigation skills.