As the new season rolls around, the feather dusters may be poised and ready to spring clean your home, but have you considered giving your mind a mental dusting too? Cleanse away any toxins that are taking up your headspace and start spring time afresh with the help from our experts
1. Counteract the negativity
You might have noticed that your mind has a negativity bias and tends to focus on the less positive (the bus you missed, a discouraging conversation at work, what you haven't achieved, and so on) while ignoring all the things that are going well for you. “Practising appreciation is highly effective in counteracting the negativity bias of the mind so that you can see your glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Every morning, think of or write down three to five things that you appreciate in the day ahead,” advises happiness and mindfulness coach, Palma Michel (palmamichel.com).
2. Be mindful of activities that drain you
“There is a simple rule – if you don´t fill your day with activities that excite and energise you, your schedule will be filled with events that do not have much meaning to you,” warns Palma. “Pause for a moment and think of jobs and people that exhaust you, as well as things that energise you. Eliminate as many of the draining tasks as possible from your schedule (consider delegation or paying someone to do them) and fill your diary with more energising projects.”
3. Eliminate ‘should’ and ‘must’ from your vocabulary
The words 'I have to', 'should' and 'must' are usually strong indicators that this is some outside ideal that you are trying to fulfill, rather than your own intrinsic desire and living by this is a massive source of unhappiness. “Ban the phrases: 'I should', 'I have to' and 'I must' from your vocabulary and replace them with 'I choose to do', 'love to' and 'desire to',” suggests Palma.
4. Organise your place
When your mind is busy you may be more prone to neglecting your physical environment. “When you're overwhelmed with thoughts, the spaces that you inhabit can easily become cluttered also,” says health coach Julie Montagu (juliemontagu.com). “This can also be true the other way around – therefore making an extra effort to keep your home or workspace clean and organised can help to keep your mind clear.” Try dedicating places in your home for storage and ensure that all your possessions have a home – that way it's easier to keep things tidy.
5. Practice forgiveness
A great deal of mental clutter can be created when we hold grudges or refuse to forgive a wrong that we feel has been committed against us by someone. “Finding ways to forgive these people, and actually extending this forgiveness to them, can help you to find peace,” explains Julie. “It is also essential to practice forgiveness towards yourself. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you have made or the regrets that you have. Encourage yourself to learn from these situations and then let them go. There is nothing to be gained by continuing to give your emotional energy to past negative experiences.”
6. Create a routine
“Having a routine not only helps you to be more efficient with your time, but can also help you to avoid crowding your mind with decisions and tasks that aren’t really vital,” says Julie. “For example, you can create a meal plan for yourself so that you already know what you are going to eat for each meal, and you can choose your outfits for the week in advance so you don’t have to worry about this each morning. With fewer mundane tasks to think about, you can leave your mind free to digest the more important things!” Before you go to sleep at night, set aside five minutes where you can write your plans for the following day in a journal. This will ensure you wake up focused on what you need to do.
7. Evaluate your goals
It can be easy to lose track of your goals, especially if you have a busy schedule and an endless to-do list. “When you take a moment to acknowledge all you have already achieved, and remind yourself of the direction you wish to take in life, then you will naturally release unimportant thoughts from your mind as you remember what is truly important to you,” recommends Julie. Every night, remind yourself of three good things that happened in your day which will train your mind to focus on the positives.