Last week, we talked about decluttering our relationships, making the ones that we have healthier, by increasing the time and energy we spend on the positive ones and reducing the time and energy we spend on the less-than-positive ones. When we stop to take stock of our relationships, we quickly realize how much time, thought, and energy go into them. We spend a lot of time on our relationships, as well we should, because of how positive they can be for us. But what other emotional things do we dwell on? What other things clutter up our minds?
When it feels like our brains are in overdrive because of all the things floating around in them (decisions and responsibilities about everything from work and chores to family and friends), we are a lot less productive than when our minds are clearer. We’re more stressed out, less patient, and less open to new ideas when our minds feel full. Most importantly, finding space for God is really hard when it seems like every millimeter of the brain has 15 things stuffed into it.
So how can we go about decluttering our minds? Like our homes and relationships, our brains need a good “Marie Kondo” every so often. Getting rid of that extraneous mental material helps us be more present, focused, attentive, and productive, so that the time we spend using our minds (read: all the time) can be more worthwhile.
Number one: set some goals. When we work without goals, we are simply throwing effort at something with no outcome in mind. We’re not quite as motivated to work hard, nor are we motivated to improve when we don’t do very well on something. Without a goal to look forward to, our energies aren’t very focused, and lots of random thoughts and feelings take up residence in our minds.
Number two: keep a journal. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day to jot down how you felt during those hours. Research from the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that people who write expressively about their thoughts and experiences have more cognitive resources for other mental activities. When the journal holds all those worries and anxieties, your brain doesn’t have to anymore. Better yet, add a prayer to the end of the journal. If worry was the theme of that journal, thank God for your blessings and ask Him for peace. If stress was the theme, ask Him for rest.
Number three: let it go. This is so, so hard for us. We don’t ever want to let go of our negative thoughts and emotions. In fact, our brains make it so that we don’t remember positive experiences as easily as we remember negative ones. We have to work extra hard to face each day with positivity, but when we do, the results cannot be ignored.
Also, try physically decluttering your desk or workspace. With fewer physical items around us, it is easier for us to stay focused on the task at hand. And, like we discussed last week, meditate for a brain break. It will clear the mind in ways that you never knew you needed.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.