Mental Clutter: What It Is And How To Eliminate It For Mental Clarity
One of the biggest dimensions of our life is our mental health. Without proper balance, nurture, and pruning, our minds become filled by things that weigh us down. And it affects everything in our life. In this article, we’ll explore what mental clutter is and how you can eliminate it so you can achieve mental clarity.
What Is Mental Clutter?
When you feel tired, alone, and worried about the future, chances are your mind is full of clutters. Mental clutters are the thoughts and images that you think about that makes you feel powerless. It takes your focus away from the things that you can control or directly influence.
Because you feel powerless, this brings stress and uses up much of your mental energy. These things are sneaky – you won’t realize that your mind is full of untidy thoughts until you’re deep in it.
It’s fast, too. And when you’re deep enough, you’ll experience a hard time making decisions, thinking straight, and even taking actions.
We’ll talk about the observable signs of a cluttered mind. But one thing you must be aware of is when it happens to you. You are not your thoughts, and you’re not defined by it. When you think about negative things, don’t identify yourself with it.
Instead, what you must do is be aware that you are the one thinking those thoughts. And you can change your thoughts in an instant. That means, you’re in control – you can do something about it.
Now, unlike physical clutter that you can see and touch, mental clutter is a bit harder to nail and pinpoint. Because of that, it takes effort, decision, and commitment to declutter your mind and get mental clarity.
The first thing to declutter your mind is to gain awareness of what it looks like when you have mental weights. Here are some…
Signs Of A Cluttered Mind
There are ways to tell if your mind is cluttered. These are observable behaviors or noticeable feelings that you can see in yourself and others. Getting familiar with these will prompt you to declutter your mind.
We’ll talk more about how to do that in a later section. For now, here are some signs (in no particular order) that you mental clutter.
One of the biggest signs of clutter, especially in your mind, is the constant feeling of being stuck. It’s feeling like you’re never really growing, or you’re not progressing in life.
You see other people improving and it’s as if life is passing you by. You may look at your friends, colleagues, and classmates “breezing through life”. And they make it look effortless. Because of this, you can’t help but feel left behind.
I know this from experience and I know how it sucks to feel that way. But feeling stuck doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s an indicator that you must do something so you can grow as a person.
Here’s a video of Mel Robbins explaining more about feeling stuck in life and what it tells you.
Anxiety About The Future
Next sign of clutter is anxiety about the future. Now, this can be brought by different factors: both internal and external. Knowing where the fear or anxiety comes from can make a big difference on how you handle it.
For example, if the source is internal (meaning anxiety because of your thoughts), you can learn to manage your thinking. The more you focus on that mental image or thought, the more it becomes real. One of the ways to counter that is to focus on something else.
It sounds simplistic, I know. Yet it works every single time. Besides, you can’t think of negative thoughts and have positive feelings. And you can’t focus on two thoughts at the same time. That’s why when you change your focus, it also changes your feelings.
Now, if the source of your anxiety is something external, you can plan on how to remove roadblocks. For example, if you’re planning a future event and you’re worried that it will fail, you can prepare for it. Grab a pen and paper and identify the risks you may encounter. Then plan on how you’re going to address it.
Mental And Physical Fatigue
Third sign that you have mental clutter is the constant and nagging feeling of mental and physical fatigue. This happens even when you’ve had enough sleep in the night. When your mind is full of worry, your brain still works even when you’re asleep.
This is why when you wake up, you feel tired. You didn’t really give your mind a rest since it’s still worrying when you were sleeping.
Loss Of Concentration
Another sign is your loss of concentration, especially at work. When you have personal issues going through your mind, other areas of your life are affected. Life isn’t compartmentalized – it’s interconnected. That means, you can’t separate one aspect from the other.
This is why until you address an issue, you’ll keep thinking about it no matter what you’re doing. Especially if it affects your emotions deeply. And since you’re thinking about something, you can’t focus on things that are in front of you.
As an example, you bring your personal issues to work. You also bring your work issues at home – whether you like it or not. Until you learn how to manage your thoughts, these clutters will continue to weigh you down.
Last, but not the least, is physical clutter. When your mind is full you can’t help but be messy and leave your stuff unorganized. It could be because you can’t muster the energy to work and organize your things.
Why? Because your mind is occupied thinking about thoughts that worry you. After all, your external life is a reflection of what’s happening inside you.
Now, of course there are people who have the habit of organizing their stuff even when they have things to think about. This is why physical clutter may be an indicator, but not always.
Mental Decluttering: The Answer To “How Do I Get Rid Of Mental Clutter?”
The last thing you want to do when you have mental clutter is to go through what I call the Spiral of Doom. That means:
- Thinking negatively about your life or yourself
- Feeling bad about your current situation
- Because of negative emotions, you’re unable to decide or act
- Getting undesirable results
…repeat until fade.
So what do you do when you want to stop feeling stuck and weighed by all the clutter in life? Yet, you can’t muster the energy to take big steps forward and stop feeling bad about yourself? Simple. Start small and build your momentum.
The most essential and critical thing is to do things that will make you feel like you’re in control. Why? Because when you make that happen, you feel empowered. And the more you feel empowered, the more you’re compelled to take more action. You’ll build momentum from there.
Here are some simple things you can start doing immediately.
Choose A Better Digital Lifestyle
We live in a digital era and it paved the way to our digital and connected lifestyle. Yet for most people, the more “connected” they are, the lesser “connection” they have.
You see, the devices you use are all designed to make you addicted to them. Your phone, computer, the internet, social media, video streaming sites, and so on. It takes a conscious decision and effort to use them to your advantage instead of the other way around.
Case in point, I’m sure you know of people who post only the good things about their life on Social Media. They’re pressured to keep a “good image” in their profiles. They project living a perfect life.
I have nothing against that practice, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that when left unchecked, most people feel envious of other people’s humble brags. They start comparing their whole life with other people’s highlights. And it makes them miserable.
I’ve written an article on how to have a better digital lifestyle. If you’re interested in it, click here.
Declutter Your Phone
One of the easiest ways to take back control is to declutter your phone. How? Simple, remove all the apps that you don’t use often. Then free up some space in your phone and delete some pictures and videos that you don’t need. Or sometimes, doesn’t even make you happy.
Aside from that, change your wallpaper into something that inspires you or brings joy in your life. It’s the first thing that you see when you open your phone. That’s why it’s a nice little hack to remind yourself of the great things in life through your phone’s wallpaper.
Read Some, And Write Some, And Reflect Some
Third thing you can do to have mental clarity is to read books. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel or nonfiction as long as it serves the purpose of helping you destress. I’m not really fond of reading novels but I love reading nonfiction books. Especially those about business and human psychology.
I know some people who can finish a novel in one sitting. And that helps them declutter their mind. If that’s you, by all means go ahead and allot some time to read for leisure purposes.
While you’re at it, you might want to keep a journal. As you know, when you read books, ideas come to mind and it helps if you can take note of it. You can also jot down your realizations and the things you feel while reading a book.
When we fill our mind with stories, ideas, or any information that’s helpful to us, it paves the way to our growth. Instead of thinking thoughts that harm your mental health, you’re filling your head with useful information. Information that could help improve your life for the better.
Tidy Your Place Up
Tidying your place up is one of the most therapeutic ways I know to remove mental clutter. When you’re in a place that’s tidy, it gives you a sense of peace and order. Aside from that, when you’re cleaning your house or room, it takes your mind away from worry.
One of the best guides you can find is Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” If you can’t buy it yet, I suggest watching her Netflix Series about the same subject.
Pro tip: When you’re cleaning, add a relaxing or enjoyable playlist in the background. It makes the cleaning process much more enjoyable. And don’t forget to take your time. After all, this isn’t a race.
Bloom In The Boring
We live in a “hustle culture” where everywhere you look, you’re being compelled to be productive. The motivational videos on Facebook, posts from your friends, work stories from your colleagues. All those are shared so “inspire” you to work harder.
Yet the thing is, you can’t always be productive. In fact, your mind can only process so much information that’s why you need some breaks.
The problem is, most people feel guilty that they’re having idle time. They’re thinking about how they’re not working towards their goals. You know, #hustle.
However, your mind becomes more creative when you let it rest. In fact, you should schedule some time to do nothing – absolutely nothing. Don’t open your phone, surf the internet, send that email, or whatever. Do nothing of your to-do lists. Let it be boring.
The reason is because this gives your mind the freedom to wander. And when you do, you allow yourself to think of ideas on how you can spend your time more effectively. In short, you reflect on what you can do to live a more fulfilled life.
This is the problem with an over-connected culture. You and I don’t have the time to bloom in the boring. You always feel like you have to be on the go – working, doing something. Even if it’s just to kill time.
Pause. Take a break. And let it be boring, once in a while.
Final Thoughts On Mental Clutter
It’s normal to develop mental clutter. We all go through experiences of feeling down and discouraged in life. I remember an old quote from Jim Rohn. He said, “Everyday, you need to stand guard at the door of your mind.”
Protect yourself from gaining tons of mental clutter. Prune the clutters of your mind by understanding where it comes from. Then apply the things you’ve learned in this article. It sure can make the difference between being happy and feeling downright empty.
To a life of essence,
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