Many things compete for our attention during the day. There are endless e-mails, caretaking, errands, preparing meals – and the list goes on and on.

Clearing your mind is crucial to reinvigorate yourself and complete your tasks to the best of your ability. Like a film reel, negative thoughts and stimuli can replay in our brains on an endless loop.

This is also known as rumination, and it makes it hard to enjoy the present moment. That’s because rumination increases cortisol levels, a hormone that triggers our chronic stress response.

Mind-clearing through small practices of mindful breathing or meditation delivers several potential benefits such as helping to:

  • Decrease cortisol (a stress hormone)
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Keep metabolism stable
  • Improve both short-term and long-term memory
  • Manage stress. Creativity and problem-solving are skills that demand you to recharge. When we dwell on our thoughts, we’re less likely to see things in a positive light.
  • Things that can clutter the mind without you noticing. Think of your mind as being like a bowl of soup.
  • Everything you need to do in a day or a week are the carrots, onions, chicken, and noodles in the broth. When your mind becomes cluttered, that bowl overflows.

Here’s a list of some common things that can cause your mind to become jumbled:

  • Too many appointments or meetings
  • Too many decisions, big or small
  • Too many e-mails and subscriptions
  • Too many items on your to do list
  • An overfull calendar
  • Reading or listening to too much news, especially when the news is concerning
  • Social media feeds.

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Mid aged woman walking in city park. Picture: iStock
Mid aged woman walking in city park. Picture: iStock

How to have a clear mind and be at ease

  1. Make a to-do list

Writing down what you need to accomplish will help you stay organised. Doing this lets you “empty your thoughts” on paper, freeing up space in your mind. By writing down, “make a vet appointment”, that thought will no longer pop into your head every few days (or hours).

2. Learn to say no

You can’t always say yes. We have limited time and resources. In fact, according to expert leadership coach Fred Kofman, making a commitment that you can’t keep is far worse (for both parties) than saying no.

In work, and life, we have to prioritise and make decisions. It’s also okay to prioritise your own needs. That’s especially true if you’re feeling rundown or overwhelmed. Saying no will reduce your stress and leave you valuable time for yourself. You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Old woman jogging. Picture: iStock
Old woman jogging. Picture: iStock

3. Just do it

Don’t put things off. Procrastination only increases your stress and distracts you from other tasks. Delayed tasks can take up space in your head and add guilt. If the task is something unpleasant, try breaking it up into parts, or take frequent breaks.

Avoiding interruptions will help, too. Your productivity will plummet if your mind is stuffed to the brim with thoughts. If you work from home, find a quiet place and close the door.

Use settings on your e-mail, phone, and chats to shut off notifications and let others know you are busy for a time. Tell your colleagues you need some uninterrupted space if you work at an office. Establishing boundaries is perfectly healthy.

4. Take a break

Your circadian rhythm – or your body’s internal clock – helps maintain mental fitness and your well-being. Sometimes working when your body doesn’t want to, like late at night, or too early in the morning, isn’t an option.

You might think you are too busy and don’t have time. Research suggests that you can’t afford not to take the time to clear your mind. But stepping away from what you’re currently working on will help you find space for whatever type of rest you need throughout the day. Plus, it’ll enhance your attention when you return to it.

Woman meditating listening to music in a park. Picture: iStock
Woman listening to music in a park. Picture: iStock

If you’re feeling stuck, try these strategies

  • Go for a walk
  • Listen to music – it can have surprising benefits
  • Read a chapter of your favourite book
  • Doodle
  • Do a guided meditation or try some mindful breathing
  • Take a nap. Physical exercise, fresh air, and sleeping are fantastic ways to get things off your mind and improve memory.
  • Taking more breaks helps to increase your effectiveness. Meditation can help you practice mindfulness and overcome negative feelings. apps makes it easy to practice the techniques.
  • If you’re having trouble sleeping, working a meditation practice at the end of your day or your nightly routine will improve the quality of your life.

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