In this day and age, we’re often overwhelmed with things to keep track of, not to mention the myriad of emotions we navigate daily. Clearing your mind can improve your mental wellness in several ways. When you need to focus on a specific task, being able to clear your thoughts and devote full attention to one thing will make the work go faster and expend less energy—you’ll feel more successful both mentally and physically!
Even when you’re not trying to focus on completing a task, getting bogged down in too many different thoughts and concerns can take a toll on mental wellness. Teachings as early as Buddha’s enlightenment principles explore the connection between mental clarity and happiness. Fortunately, there are straightforward ways to practice reducing the noise in your head and focusing on either the task you need to complete or simply being and enjoying the world. Start incorporating these routines into your mindfulness practice, especially when you are overwhelmed with too many thoughts.
Physical activity is one of the best ways to clear your mind. Studies have shown that increased blood flow during exercise can improve functioning in many areas of your brain, including the frontal cortex, where decisions are made. Exercise can also promote the growth of neurons in your brain, helping to improve focus, recall, and creativity. The added benefits of lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones round out the reasons why getting active is the number one way to clear your mind. If you don’t have time for a full workout, take a brisk walk around the block or try 20 minutes of yoga.
Often, the act of writing down our thoughts and feelings is enough to clear them from our minds. Instead of feeling the need to hold onto every detail, your mind can relax knowing that the ideas and concerns are preserved elsewhere. Journaling can also be helpful in identifying sticking points that weren’t obvious before, so you can quickly address those problem areas and move on. Make journaling a regular practice, but keep a small notepad handy for times during the day when you need a quick decluttering session.
Connecting with nature is an excellent way to clear your mind and find mental peace. There are many scientifically proven reasons why being in nature helps reduce stress and improve your mental state, but the most prominent are the increased oxygen, vitamin D levels, and serotonin. Disconnecting from digital devices (a feat much easier to accomplish outside) also dramatically increases your chances of calming your mind. If you can’t go for a long walk or escape to the mountains regularly, try gardening in your backyard or even indoors. The connection to soil and plants will provide many of the same benefits. So, the next time you’re feeling mentally overwhelmed, head outside for a walk or take some time to commune with your succulents.
Find Isolated Space
A cluttered physical space can often correlate with a cluttered mental space. If you’re finding it challenging to calm your thoughts and refocus your attention, pause and look around. You may notice you’re around too many people (or too many things). If possible, move to an area that’s more isolated and work there. Our mental state often takes cues from our physical realities, so setting up a place at home that feels like a retreat without distractions is a good future practice.
Spend 5 Minutes on Something Trivial
Sometimes the best way to clear your mind is to switch its attention to a completely unrelated task—trying too hard to shut down your thoughts can sometimes backfire. Find a trivial task or problem and devote 5-10 minutes to it. The key here is to make it something easy to focus on, like folding the towels, organizing one shelf in the pantry, or matching your socks. Give it your full attention. Then, after the task is finished, you’ll find that many of the other thoughts have quieted—embrace this opportunity!
Do Some Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is by far one of the easiest ways to clear your mind. Studies have shown that deep breathing can help with anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, exercise recovery—a plethora of physical and mental health measures. You can do deep breathing any time and place, making it an excellent tool for calming your thoughts during an unexpectedly stressful situation. Take several breaths following a 4-7-8 pattern (in for 4, hold for 7, out for 8) and see how you feel.
Next time you feel overwhelmed or unable to focus, try one or more of these tips to clear your mind.