5 Mental Decluttering Methods
A cluttered mind is disrupting, and it hinders your growth in life, productivity, balance, and even your mental health.
Your brain itself is such a beautiful and powerful yet complex organ layered with old hurts, traumas, insecurities, pain, worry, and many other things.
So, how do we declutter a space as complex as this?
Believe it or not, it's easier than you think, and throughout this post, I'm going to show you how.
Here are five methods to help you declutter your mental space.
1. Write it Down
To be fair, I love writing, so I'm slightly biased toward this method. However, regardless of whether writing is your thing or not, this method works when dealing with mental clutter.
I want you to imagine yourself physically holding your mental clutter in your arms. As if it's a box full of clothes and shoes.
Feel its weight digging into your forearms. The blood rushing to your fingertips, your shoulders burning. It's heavy!
Now here's the irony in this metaphor. Your mental clutter is not something you can see or physically hold in your arms—it's invisible. Yet you can still feel its weight pulling and tugging at every piece of you.
Here's how we change that.
Start by writing down what you feel, the thoughts you're having, and the clutter that's crowding your mind. When you do this, you're taking something invisible and making it visible or physical. Stay with me.
Our physical clutter tends to be the most straightforward to deal with. We can easily donate old clothes and sell unneeded furniture until our hearts are content.
The ease in that makes decluttering our physical space less intimating when compared directly to our mental space, but instead of shying away from our mental clutter, let's find ways to make it easier to view and deal with.
Hence writing it down.
You can write a poem, a paragraph, multiple pages, or a simple sentence—the length doesn't matter, as long as you write down how you feel daily.
This will aid you in transitioning some of your mental clutter into something physical that you can read, reflect on and deal with further.
2. Talk it Out (express yourself verbally)
I've learned that avoidance is not the best solution for mental clutter. However, because we're human, many of us do this exact thing.
We suppress our feelings emotionally and mentally. We bottle them up and avoid them, but as I said, avoidance is not the best solution for mental clutter.
Instead, we have to face it, express it, and release it.
Express yourself verbally by reading aloud or reciting your journal entries or poems. Use this as an opportunity to face what you feel and release it, so you never have to carry its weight again.
You can do this in front of a mirror or while talking to someone you're incredibly close to. Personally, I chose to recite my poetry at open mic events, and for me, it was definitely the release I needed.
Seek Help (If you need it)
There is one last piece to this that I want to make sure I mention clearly. If the weight of your mental clutter is not something you feel comfortable working through on your own, then please seek professional help.
Seeing or wanting to see a therapist is not something to be embarrassed about. If it helps you, do it. Remember, unexpressed emotions and thoughts will eventually pile up, get heavier, and weigh you down.
3. 10-Minute Brain Dump
This method is super simple and effective. All you have to do is spend 10 minutes dumping your thoughts, stresses, worries, anything your mind has clinched its hands around. You can do this on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or digitally if you prefer.
Now here's what makes this method effective, in my opinion. After you dump your brain, you have to sort through and organize those thoughts and ideas.
Personally, I break this up into three categories:
Trash (or dump)
Doing this allows us to develop a plan and take the proper steps to clear our mental clutter. "Action items" become your to-do list; "general thoughts" are things you want to explore/learn, and "trash" is well trash—let it go and move on.
4. One Method
This method is interesting because it allows you to focus a bit more, and what I mean is this: Focus on one thought or memory, something that you're holding on to mentally, once a week or once a month.
A big part of decluttering is giving ourselves permission to let go. However, the human in us sometimes feels afraid. And without a doubt, we always find ourselves falling into a state of avoidance in these moments.
"There's so much clutter in my mind. I'd rather not deal with any of it."
Does this sound like something you've said before?
See by choosing to focus on one thing, once a week or once a month. You can start to make real progress at decluttering your mind because you're not overwhelming yourself with the total amount of mental clutter you may have.
This is very similar to decluttering your physical space. Don't pull out everything all at once. Focus on one room or one closet at a time.
5. Declutter your surroundings
Head, Heart, Surroundings. Now I'm a firm believer that you have to have a clear mind and heart first before having or maintaining a clear space. However, I also understand the value and lessons that come with physically experiencing the freedom of "less."
So with this in mind, I want you to try clearing some of the clutter in your immediate space. Where do you spend the most time when you're at home? How is your office space at work? What about your car?
Believe it or not, when these spaces in your life are cluttered, not only is it a physical mess, but it's also a visual mess. And visual clutter quickly occupies part of your mind without you even knowing it. So if you want you clear your mental clutter, then promptly shape up those three spaces in your life, so you're not visually adding to the mess.
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