10 ways to declutter your mind this year
Clear your mind. Be here now. Find your zen. These mantras surround us all the time – and, as experts tell us, there’s good reason for it. “Our minds are designed to wander. That’s why we’re so creative, so productive,” says psychologist Dr Jennifer Hughes. “But when your mind is cluttered, it’s like we’re time travelling, we’re going back to the past or thinking about the future, and these thoughts can make it hard to function, be in the present moment, and enjoy the things that are in front of us.” Feeling a little lacking in the zen category? No worries. We asked psychologists and mindfulness experts to share their favourite free-your-mind tricks to get you in the right mindset.
Expand your notion of meditation
Before any discussion of meditation begins, it’s important to broaden your understanding of what the M-word actually entails. “You don’t have to be sitting in a lotus position to meditate. You can create a meditative exercise in so many of your day-to-day activities,” says anxiety coach Julian Brass, author of Own Your Anxiety. “Meditation is simply about disconnecting from your surroundings and reconnecting with yourself. The key ingredient is that you’re conscious of your breath, slowing it down so you’re calming your nervous system.” To find a meditation that works for you, Hughes suggests the app Insight Timer, which has more than 30,000 free guided meditations.
Write it down
When was the last time you kept a diary? Turns out, writing down your thoughts is a proven (and simple!) mind-clearing technique. “Journaling helps you analyse and organise your thoughts, which is a great way to relax your mind,” says neuropsychologist Dr Sanam Hafeez. “Research suggests that expressive writing eliminates intrusive thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. These improvements may, in turn, free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities, including the ability to manage stress more effectively.”
Once you’ve started writing, learn how to avoid email gaffes.