Cluttered Mind? - Counselling Newsletter

Published: 3 Jul 2018

Just like our bedrooms, our minds can become over-run with clutter. It’s important to think about clutter that's been building up in our minds, like stress, reoccurring or preoccupying thoughts. Having a cluttered mind can make us feel stressed, anxious and worried. So what can we do to ‘clear’ our minds of all this clutter?

Tip One: Reflection

We’ve all learnt by now that ignoring something usually does not make it go away. The first step to clearing out clutter is reflecting on what is actually going on inside our mind. What are we feeling stressed or worried about? Why is it making us feel that way? It’s important that we learn about ourselves because it will help us identify warning signs if we become cluttered again in the future.

Tip Two: Write It Down

Having to remember a trillion things all at once is not only really stressful, but it uses up a lot of mental space! Writing things down is a great way of de-cluttering our minds because it means that we don’t have to remember every little detail. It can also make things seem a lot more manageable when we map them out on paper – like study or important dates. Whether you decide to use a diary or you’re fond of the list-approach, it can really help to prioritise your thoughts and identify the ‘essential’.

Tip Three: Meditation

We’ve all heard that meditation is a good way to clear your mind, find yourself and relax. What you may not have heard is that there are a thousand different ways to meditate meaning you can find the one that best suits you. Some suggestions include:

  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Walking the dog
  • Going to the gym
  • Having a bubble bath
  • Shopping or seeing a movie
  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they:

  • Focus on the present moment
  • Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
  • Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
  • Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’

We spend so much time thinking over stuff that has happened in the past or worrying about things that may happen in the future, that often we actually forget to appreciate or enjoy the moment. Mindfulness is a way of bringing us back to experience life as it happens. When you’re mindful, it:

  • Helps clear your head
  • Helps you be more aware of yourself, your body and the environment
  • Helps to slow down your thoughts
  • Slows down your nervous system
  • Helps you to concentrate
  • Helps you relax
  • Can help you cope with stress

Tip Four: Talk

Talking to someone you trust can be a great way to release emotion and get what’s bothering you off your chest. It can also be helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on a problem that’s got you stumped and is stressing you out. You may consider talking to a friend, a family member, a lecturer or even a counsellor.

Tip Five: Prevention Is Better Than A "Cure"!

Sometimes we can’t avoid feeling a little bit stressed and that’s okay! Busy times of a university semester can push us to our limits. However, there are steps we can take to reduce the likelihood of things becoming too overwhelming. It’s important that we learn to identify the signs that indicate that we’re starting to become too stressed or that our mental clutter is starting to build up. These might include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficult concentrating
  • Difficulty relaxing

Working some of the previous tips into your everyday life can help you offload your daily mental clutter so that you don’t overload yourself. Make sure you get a bit of ‘me-time’ every day so that you can wind down properly. This might mean actually allowing yourself some time each day to get your worrying out of the way in the form of a ‘worry window’ (e.g., 10 minutes at 11am each day). It's also important to remember that even though some things won’t automatically be easy on the first go (like keeping a journal) we just have to keep trying in order to work out what’s best for us.

Extract from Reach Out:

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