I hope everyone reading this is safe from the recent weather events and military operations. I keep you all in my prayers as you navigate life.
This month’s newsletter is about Mental Clutter. We all know what clutter looks like in our homes, offices and apartments. Most of us could agree that when that physical clutter is cleaned up and our environment is neat and organized, we tend to feel better. We can even feel more calm. Well, it works the same way with our brains. Whether you are a “paper” organizer or a “technology” organizer, you don’t have to keep all the details of everything in your head. We have places we can put the information, just like we would put away winter sweaters in summer or put away vacation items when we return from our relaxing get-away. Most people only think about physical clutter though. My hope is that this newsletter wakes you up to realize that you can do some ‘fall cleaning’ with your brain, too.
So what is mental clutter? It consists of all the details of every day and the days and weeks to come. Every appointment, every “oh yeah, I have to return this” or “I have to remember to turn the sprinkler system off because of all the rain we have had.” We don’t realize that some of these things we can put in our digital calendar or our Daytimer (yes, I have used one for years. It is my bible for sure.) Are there some items we can remove from our brain until we actually need that information? YES. There are many things we can put in our phones as reminders or put on the calendar for next week. We have to give ourselves permission to let go of that information, as long as we have it somewhere else. Then the key is to get into a routine to check those places where we list things. Do we check the calendar before we go to bed so we know what to prepare for tomorrow?
The other great way to eliminate mental clutter is to take a day to go through all the mental clutter, all the items that will only take 15 minutes…..and just do them. That 15-minute job may take an hour…but you have the time today to finish that item. If you have to be on hold for an hour for someone while you are paying bills, going through the mail, putting away the wash or emptying the dishwasher… do it. With the upcoming long weekend, take a morning or an afternoon and set it aside to clean out the mental clutter. You will be surprised at how good it feels to have your mind more organized. You know you have the important dates for the month or the year already on the calendar, so we don’t have to keep remembering that date. We can refer back to that calendar periodically to be sure we don’t miss something. Let it go once you have written it down.
Another great tactic for letting go of mental clutter is to have your list of what you have to do today. Check it when you can to be sure you are staying focused on what is important today. Before I “close the Daytimer” for the day, I go through and make sure I have either checked off everything I was supposed to do for the day or I have moved it to another day if I was unable to get it done. When I look at that schedule and I see everything checked off……my mental clutter is gone for the day. I give myself permission to relax and be with family or friends or watch a TV show. I tell myself it is time to relax. Everything important was done today. Tomorrow is another day. Time to rest the mind. Now, once in a while, as I am falling asleep, I think of something important. I keep my Daytimer near me at night. If I have to use the light on my phone to write something down, I do. Then, again, it is off my mind and in my book to think about tomorrow. Again, time to rest.
Clearing mental clutter can help us to feel more relaxed. Also, don’t put things in your mind that someone else is responsible for. Give them the power to remember. I am curious if some of these things are put into place, do you feel any better? My experience has been YES. I hope yours is too.
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Maryellen Dabal, MA, LMFT
305 Miron Drive
Southlake, TX 76092