A mind is a terrible thing to waste, right? Maybe that's why we tend to jam-pack our brains with heaps of information, infinite to-do lists, tons of worries and regrets, and loads of self-defeating thoughts. That mind chatter, which is always on heavy rotation, does nothing but make us anxious, stressed, depressed, and mentally exhausted.
So how do we turn down the volume on all that noise and silence the incessant voice that's constantly (and annoyingly) yakking about what we should or shouldn't be doing? Pastaveia and Sean St. John of Eco-Conscious Minimalists are back for the fourth — and final! — week of our spring cleaning series to help us declutter our overactive, jumbled minds.
Stop Trying to Be Everything
A huge source of mind clutter comes from wearing so many hats and constantly being pulled in multiple different directions.
"Sometimes you feel like a prisoner in your own mind. There's so much going on, from work demands to trying to be a good mom, wife, employee, provider, and best friend," Pastaveia says. "You have so many things expected from you, and half the time you get so overwhelmed that it's hard to take a step forward."
Sean agrees, saying there's no possible way to be perfect in every aspect of life.
"When you're thinking about eight different things at once, you can't stop to prioritize which ones you should be focusing on in the present. This is setting yourself up for failure. Not everyone is going to get a piece of that pie," Sean says.
Their advice? Make you your No. 1 priority. Focus on your needs and wants without worrying about what others think. Your brain will thank you.
You might think you're proficiently juggling multiple things at once, but in reality, you're not. Multitasking actually slows you down. As you switch tasks, you're diverting attention from one part of your brain to another, which takes time and brain cells.
Also, the next time you're texting a friend while trying to work on a project, think twice. Research suggests that people who regularly multitask with more than one stream of media at a time are much worse at paying attention, filtering out irrelevant memories, and switching from one project to another compared to those who rarely multitask with media. Focus on what needs to be done first, then make your way down the list. And please put your phone down.
Do Some Box Breathing
Ever heard of box breathing? Pastaveia and Sean learned the technique during their time in the U.S. Air Force. Whenever you're stressed or your mind feels scattered, here's what you do: Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, release your breath for another four counts, then sit still for a final four counts. There's an app available for guidance if you need it.
Take the time to reinvest in yourself and reignite your self-love.
If you're having a particularly stressful day at work, Pastaveia recommends going to the restroom and doing the box breathing technique in a bathroom stall. Have more time? Meditation and yoga are great ways to center your thoughts, help you focus, and keep you in the present. Both relieve stress and anxiety, make you more mindful, and boost creativity.
Write It Out
Another way of detoxing your mind is to write down your thoughts. Pastaveia grabs her journal right when she wakes up and again before bed, which helps her unpack her day.
"It's a great outlet and it really helps with stress reduction," she says. "It's also super cheap. You don't need to invest in anything fancy — a piece of paper or a notepad is fine."
Pastaveia recommends not only jotting down what's on your mind and highlights from your day, but also listing the things you're grateful for. Positive thinking, people!
At least twice a month, Pastaveia and Sean have a "nothing day" where they turn off all their electronic devices and do, well, absolutely nothing. That means no TV, no work, and no chores. In fact, they don't even leave the house. This allows them to take a break to recharge and re-energize themselves and their minds.
"You don't have to accomplish any of the daily obligations you normally have to do from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep," Sean says. Pastaveia agrees, adding, "A nothing day gives you time to reinvest in yourself and reignite your self-love."
If taking a full 24 hours isn't an option, the couple recommends trying to take at least a few hours to unplug, zone out, and let your brain do nothing. Decluttering your mind sounds pretty great, huh?
Last week: Decluttering your cell phone.