I don’t know what it is about spring, but every year I feel I need to start a deep clean and purge in my house. Suddenly the things I had laying around for winter, I now find cumbersome. My eyes see clothes to give away, cabinets to scrub, and windows that need washing.
Even though it hasn’t felt like spring with all the crazy weather, I still feel the spring cleaning itch.
Just like our homes need cleaning to prepare for the new season, so do our minds.
Our minds can get cluttered with mountains of information, both useful and harmful. As we go through our day, our minds are often on fast forward with all the things we want to do, need to do, and forgot to do. All of these disruptive thoughts create mental clutter. Mental clutter then becomes a barrier preventing us from enjoying the present moment.
Taking time to clear our minds of mental clutter is vital to our overall wellbeing. Let’s chat about three techniques you can use today to declutter your mind.
Use a brain dump
So what is a brain dump?
A brain dump is when you intentionally take time to clear your mind of your thoughts on paper. There is not a right or wrong way to brain dump. The important aspect is to download all of those thoughts so you can process, reflect, and decide next steps. Remember, a brain dump is NOT an outline.
How do I do a brain dump?
Basically, you need some time (insert mom laugh), paper, and a writing utensil. I prefer to use colors for different topics or emotions. Once you have the time and the materials, sit down and record all of those thoughts swirling around in your mind. Don’t worry about organizing them, spelling correctly, and analyzing them. Just get the thoughts OUT.
Try to remember all those rogue thoughts that popped up while you were in your meeting, folding laundry, or when your kid was talking about his day (or Minecraft AGAIN). Write out how you really feel and what you really think.
I did a brain dump, now what?
Once you have spent time purging your thoughts, start with next steps. What is the priority? What next steps do you need to take? Anything you need to do? Anyone you need to call? Sometimes we may not notice how we really feel about an issue until we give ourselves time to reflect.
Are your thoughts based on truth? If you notice your thoughts are often based on fear, negative thinking, or pain, then identify scriptures to help replace those thoughts. Then brain dumps can help to identify a repetitive behavior or thought.
Whatever you do, don’t treat brain dumping as your to-do list.
Choose what to let in
Simply put, too much information clogs the mind. Your thought process is foggy. Your response time is slow. There is too much coming into your brain. Think about it. How much time do you spend scrolling through social media while the television is on? Or how often are you talking with a friend on speaker phone as you are grocery shopping? Your kid is talking to you, but you didn’t hear the conversation at all because your mind was preoccupied with bills. You are reading emails, magazines, books and the Bible. There is not enough space for your brain to process everything coming in, so something has to go.
It’s important for us to understand information does not equate to knowledge. If we want to shift information to knowledge, then our brains need time and space to make connections. This shift will not happen when we are overloading it with useless clutter. We must choose what we are allowing to saturate our minds.
The Bible provides guidelines on what we should allow in our minds. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV). When we continuously allow ourselves to be exposed to things that are negative, unhealthy, and draining, our minds stay cluttered.
So what do we do?
- Limit the amount of time on social media, on the internet, and watching television
- Unsubscribe and unfollow anyone and anything that is not a positive influence and adds to your overall wellbeing
- Be intentional in expressing gratitude and thankfulness
- Be comfortable saying no
- Reframe your thinking
Make time for self-reflection, meditation, and prayer
How can you declutter your mind if you are constantly on the go? I know, I know. I can hear your thoughts all the way over here “Mamie, you don’t know my life.” You’re right I don’t. As a military wife, often left to run the house with four boys away from family and friends, I often thought there wasn’t enough time in the day to do it all. I didn’t have time to journal, brain dump, or anything else as luxurious. The truth is not making time will cost us more. It is more harmful to push forward ignoring signs of stress and negative thinking. We can become moody, sarcastic, and even bitter.
Intentionally creating space for us to reflect is important to the wellness of our minds and bodies. Reflection is more than that small time in bed where we rehearse all the things we should have done, could have said, or moments missed. Reflection is more than a recollection of events. Self-reflection occurs when we actively think about what occurred, how we responded, why we responded in a particular way while thinking about how to improve and how to grow.
This is not time set aside to beat yourself up for all the ways you failed. Instead, you are reframing your thought process to learn how to think positively and make better decisions. You are creating space for you to hear from God that is not rushed and forced.
How can you make this happen?
- Find time alone (Now momma, going to the bathroom alone can be hard. I get it. But even 5 minutes is a start. Just do something.)
- It’s okay to talk out loud. Sometimes we need to hear what we really feel to be able to reframe it with the truth of God’s word.
- Own your emotions. No one is there to judge you for being tired, upset, or if you need to cry.
- Focus on the big picture. Know that God’s plan is more intricate and bigger than anything we can even imagine. Trust His plan for your life.