In a busy, hectic world many of us suffer from stresses and strains. If we become anxious and our body becomes tight and aching we can easily find simple solutions: massage, yoga or stretching – there are many natural ways to deal with anxiety.
But what happens when your mind seizes up under the pressure of too many cluttered thoughts? How can we give room to our bright ideas when our mind is jam packed with a myriad of jumbled nonsense? Feeling that our brain is overloaded is a growing problem, but fortunately there are a few easy solutions to unwind and clear your mind. Try them out, they really work.
One simple and effective way to de-clutter your mind is to get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Too often ideas race around our heads without shape or direction. Written down they become more concrete; we can see our thoughts in black and white, organize them and deal with them.
Some people find that keeping a journal is a great way of clearing out their minds. A journal can be used as a cleansing process at the end of the day, a place to off-load the day’s stresses or alternatively it can be written first thing in the morning so as to give space in your mind for the day ahead. Whichever approach you take to journaling, give yourself permission to write what you want, however you want. Your journal is for you, no-one else; spelling, grammar, style are unimportant.
If you don’t like the idea of filling up pages with writing, try drawing. Again, this need not be a work of art, but simply an expression and outpouring of your thoughts. Doodles, bubbles, charts and diagrams can help to give shape to the swirling thoughts in your head.
There is no set format for this type of de-cluttering; you may discover that the act of drawing itself helps you relax or you may find that the drawing helps empty your mind and organizes your thoughts. Whatever works for you is what’s best.
Not everyone is comfortable drawing or writing. Often, talking is just as effective at clearing out our minds. Women have an advantage over men in this respect because they tend to form friendships in which it is permissible to talk over problems. Men sometimes find it hard to articulate their feelings to their friends or partners, but if a trusted person can be found it can be extremely beneficial to give a voice to your fears and aspirations.
Like writing or drawing, talking externalizes your thoughts, getting them out of your head and into the daylight where you can deal with them positively.
When we get tense our breath tends to become shallower and our bodies take in less oxygen. Less oxygen to the brain causes less mental energy. The solution is simple: breathe deeply. Deep breathing has been used for centuries in meditation and for relaxation and it works. You don’t need special training or equipment to do it, it’s ideal to do at any time. Try it next time your thoughts are racing and you need to unwind.
Doctors often tell people suffering from anxiety or depression to get some gentle exercise because exercise isn’t just about having a healthy body, it’s about having a healthy mind too. In part, it links to the point above, getting oxygen to your brain, but more than that a body that is exercised produces feel-good endorphins which help the brain cope with stress. In addition, a little gentle exercise, preferably outdoors, burns off pent-up energy and helps your mind unload its unwanted thoughts.
Remember that everyone suffers from racing thoughts or inertia due to mental overload at times; you are not alone. You will make your life easier and healthier if you adopt some healthy habits to deal with life’s increasing pace. These aren’t the only ways to clear your mind and unwind, but hopefully they give you pause for thought.
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Will Stone writes on a wide range of topics on the subject of well-being, in terms of physical health, and the wider context of our lives as a whole. You can read more of his work at www.casahealth.co.uk.