From Mental Clutter to Clarity

1. Meditate

Meditation is a technique used to focus your mind, usually using sounds or your breathing. Meditation aims to place less focus on future uncertainties and more focus inward, allowing you to become more present. Many people find meditation unapproachable as it can be daunting to actively shift focus when our minds are almost constantly active. However, when you start incorporating this daily practice into your life, you will find that you are able to quieten your mind and become more in tune to your body. You will be able to control your thoughts better, instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

You don’t have to sit in a cross-legged position chanting “ohm…”. Instead, do anything that makes you more present to enjoy the moment. I have learned that meditation can be done any time we actively try to connect with our mind/body/surroundings. This could include going for a walk and focusing on the beautiful scenery around you, or sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and listen to your favorite music. To meditate, I use a meditation app called “Calm”. Calm is free to download and consists of a wide range of timed meditation sequences, music and sleep stories for adults. You could even set a daily meditation reminder on Calm. So, make meditation your own to reduce stress, control anxiety and lengthen your attention span.

To download the Calm app click on the link below:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.calm.android&hl=en_ZA

2. Plan ahead

There is no downside to planning ahead when doing something. If the time comes and you are unable to make that meeting or do a task right then - as long as the actual task is done for the due date -  it’s okay! In life, there are so many uncertainties, but it gives us opportunities to plan ahead. At the start of every semester, I draw up my own personal timetable for the entire semester, but I only look at it weekly. This helps me keep up with what I need to get done each week. However, I don’t feel overwhelmed because, for example; I am aware of a due date for an assignment that is weeks away, but I am also able to see how much time I have to work on it before it’s due. This way, I can approach everything with ease instead of doing it last minute as I am aware of all deadlines, and I am always on top of things (well, I try!).

3. Write it down

Whether we just had a job interview for a job we really wanted but didn’t get, or if we had a fight with our best friend. We all have experiences in life where we think about for hours or even days afterward. Whenever I have these defining experiences, instead of forcing myself to just forget about it and move on, I write it down. Often, when reading my journal entry back to myself, I realize that there are things that I can do to make the situation better, or it simply just helps to write it down. I look at it as a way of physically removing those thoughts from my mind and leaving it all in my journal to free up some mental clutter that if left alone, could cause crankiness, fatigue or anxiety.

4. Be present

Often, when I feel stressed due to an overload of work, I take a few minutes to go for a quick walk. When I feel the wind on my face and get some sunlight, it puts things into perspective. I tend to focus on enjoying that few minutes to take my mind off anything that’s making me feel stressed or under pressure. When I return from that walk, I feel more energized to continue with the workload and it also reminds me how important a work/life balance is.

Sometimes, I take a few days or weeks off from social media, this allows me to really enjoy down time alone or with loved ones, instead of constantly wanting to take photos or videos to post online. Also, when we aimlessly scroll through social media platforms, we tend to compare ourselves to others or feel like we are missing out when all of our friends have a night out and we are having an early night because we need to get up early the next day. When taking a break from social media, we are able to focus more on ourselves and our mental wellbeing.

5. Prioritize

When writing down everything you need to do, list the tasks from most important to least important. Make sure that you complete the list accordingly, allowing you to approach your to-do list with ease, and managing your time more efficiently.

6. Talk it out

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or mentally overwhelmed, talk it out. This could be to a loved one, a therapist, or even to your pet! Talking it out helps you to get things off your chest that’s bothering you, and make you feel more relaxed knowing that you have been able to vent about things that are weighing you down. This is another helpful and healthy way to deal with your frustrations. Your loved ones will probably be able to sympathize and help with what’s bothering you whilst giving you a big hug!