It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
And the most stressful time of the year.
Between finals and/or the holidays, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and have a million things on your mind and feel frazzled 25/8. We’re all susceptible to feeling that way all year round, and all that clutter in our minds builds up to the point of stress, anxiety, depression, and overall exhaustion – all of which can start to take a physical toll on our bodies if it goes on too long.
Here are some of the ways that I try to declutter my mind so I go from this…
… to this (still crazed, but a little bit more perky at least).
Physical messes are easily the biggest offenders to our “mental messes.” Seeing piles of clothes scattered all over your bedroom + bathroom, piles of papers you feel like you don’t have anywhere to put piling up on the desk, the abundance of clutter accumulating on the bathroom counter leaving you with limited space to do anything you need to get done, stacks of dishes in the sink, the smells diffusing from days old dishes or from the trash that’s been overflowing for days… I’m getting stressed just thinking about it.
According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. on a Psychology Today article, there are 8 reasons Why Mess Causes Stress:
- Creates excessive stimuli causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary + important
- Draws our attention away from what our focus should be on
- Makes it difficult to relax, physically + mentally
- Constantly signals our brain that our work is never done
- Creates anxiety because we are never sure what it’s going to take to get through the bottom of the pile
- Creates feelings of guilt + embarrassment
- Inhibits creativity + productivity by invading open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve
- Prevents us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly
And if we’re not careful, physical + mental clutter can become a vicious cycle – it can be easy to make messes when we feel stressed and in the back of our minds feel like we have nothing together. But in turn, our messes could perpetuate the stress we feel, leading us to create more mess, and so forth.
The idea of deep cleaning might feel daunting, especially if you feel stressed, anxious, crunched for time, etc. but getting rid of that mess will make you feel 10x better.
Once upon a time I actually used to be good at keeping my inboxes cleaned out first thing in the morning before getting started with my day. However, since those days, I’ve signed up for a lot more email subscriptions to other blogs, stores/brands, etc. which has given me a lot more emails to try and sift through – next thing I know I have over 1,000 emails. Yikes. Some people go unphased by the red notifications on their app icons – but for me, it makes me feel cluttered and puts this feeling in the back of my mind that there’s something that has to be done. Therefore, getting those emails + other apps cleaned out of their notification bubbles leaves me feeling a little less burdened or as loomed over.
MAKE A CHECKLIST
Quite possibly the most basic technique in the book – but has it ever failed us? A lot of times we think of something and assume we’ll remember; but 5 minutes later it’s escaped your mind, and then you sit there stressing out about “what was it I needed to do,” “what was I gonna get at the store again,” etc. Writing these tasks down will take away the stress of having to strain ourselves to remember, and putting pen to paper helps me create the illusion that it’s one less thing I have to think about – I can just check the list and see what still needs to be done instead of trying to reference that same checklist in my head. Plus, it’s rewarding to be able to cross items off your list. Getting that sense of accomplishment will help you remember you can do this and that you’re more put together than perhaps originally thought.
Or once your room is clean, at least, and you’ve made room for all those creative juices to flow. One of my favorite creative pass-times is watercoloring. Am I the best at it? Not necessarily. But sometimes you just need to be able to put more of your thought into creating something than thinking about everything you have to do. Art therapy is a wellness technique that is on the rise – the self-expression that is linked to creativity is not only good for mental health, but that it’s also beneficial for physical health, as well (Malchiodi, 2015).
My quiet space is my room whenever it’s clean. I love cuddling up in a nicely made bed with a candle burning and some low light and just watching Netflix if need be. Sometimes you just need a quiet, clear space to relax and escape the world and people for a little while. Sometimes I’ll play my acoustic playlist and paint, or even take a nap. It doesn’t particularly need to be some well-thought out self-therapy session – sometimes it does us good to have some me time where we don’t have to think about that to do list.
Don’t forget that this is a health + wellness blog (-: You should have known exercise was gonna creep in here somewhere. But sometimes it’s freeing to put some headphones in and listen to that acoustic or worship playlist for a soothing walk, or get that workout playlist blasting and run off your frustrations + stress. Short-term effects of cardiorespiratory exercise includes a boost in mood + relaxation due to increased levels of seratonin, dopamine and endorphins, increased energy, and can lead to better sleep (AZ Central).