If the 21st century mind had the ability to send out notifications, how many times would it tell you that its storage was almost full? Chances are, a lot and chances are, you don’t need to hold onto everything in storage.
And while the quality of our lives rests on our ability to think, a lot of those thoughts can be done away with. Noticing which thoughts are weighing you down, which ideas you’ve outgrown and which feelings are burdening you have a myriad of benefits; not only are you more at ease but you are also relieving stress, allowing scope for more effective cognitive functioning as well as improving your working memory (sounds similar to what happens when you empty your desktop trash can or clear your photo album, right?)
Here are a few ideas on how to start deep-cleaning your most important and permanent residence.
1. WRITE TO MAKE RIGHT
We often overlook the therapeutic qualities of writing and just how significant it is in our day-to-day lives; simply making a list can help us to feel on track. And while writing is great when you’re feeling motivated, it’s also great when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year. The point is that writing, will be there for you (insert Friends theme song).
• Make a list of everything that is weighing you down. These can be negative thoughts, feelings or situations. Acknowledging them puts you in a position where you can let them go. To make this even more symbolic, you can throw the list away once you’re finished writing.
• It’s human nature to feel bogged down at some point, but it helps to prioritise what is ‘worth’ feeling weighed down by and what can be dropped.
2. OUT WITH THE OLD
Make space for the new by bidding farewell to the past and any negative feelings attached to it.
• What thoughts and beliefs have you outgrown that aren’t serving you?
• Don’t ruminate. Most of the time, negative thoughts have no factual basis but dwelling on them gives them the makeshift basis that they need to continue. Because we cannot always manage our thoughts, simply let them pass through without letting them stay for tea.
3. WHAT ARE YOU ACCUMULATING
This will get you thinking about your daily habits, whether they are beneficial to you and if what you’re consuming is useful or taking up valuable space.
• Differentiate between what is worth giving mental space to and what is not. Where do you want to focus your time and what do you want to give your mental and physical energies to?
• Review your daily habits. For example, opening social media upon waking up in the morning. While doing this might make you feel connected and motivated, it also delays you from starting your day. Excessive media consumption – especially first-thing in the morning when your mind is warming up – overloads your mind with data that it probably doesn’t need. When I reach for my phone, I always ask myself if there’s anything more important that I should be doing in that moment.
4. MAINTAINING YOUR SPACE
While the other steps have focused on recognising what you’ve accumulated and no longer need, this step is about focusing on the now.
• Move! It can be any sort of movement such as a walk, yoga, a jog or even a stroll to the kettle after being sat at your desk for a while. This should shift your mood and re-energise you.
• Read an uplifting book, make time for watching a comedy show or listen to your favourite song.
• Give your full attention to even the most mundane, routine tasks. This can help you to stay present; it also helps you avoid getting lost in the past or straying too far ahead into the future.
“Experts estimate that we have between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day.”