Experiencing overwhelm and mind clutter is a common experience for many.
Managing the clutter and overwhelm of the highly active mind is frustrating and can even feel paralyzing.
I spent many years of my life trying to figure out how to manage my own cluttered, overwhelmed mind. I thought if I could just find the “right” thing or if I just accomplished everything I “should” then I’d no longer have to deal with it. That wasn\’t the case.
It took time, and it was a process, but I learned how to calm the mind clutter so I could experience more balance and clarity.
I first had to stop treating mind clutter as bad or wrong. It became helpful data for recognizing if I was on or off balance.
If I notice mind clutter now, I often use the following steps to help me move forward in a more clear-minded way.
A recounting of a cluttered mind experience and how to apply the 5 steps.
I woke up with a filled, overactive, cluttered mind. I couldn’t sort out exactly what I was thinking or why. I tried to lean into my emotions, but all that came up was disarray.
I hadn’t woken up like this or felt this way in a very long time. I noticed what my body felt, tense head and shoulders. I intentionally dropped them down to physically relaxed them.
The tightness and mind clutter was a sign that it was time to do an internal self-assessment.
I tried to slow down and backtrack through my past week to determine what had changed but I couldn\’t slow my mind enough to do that. So, I chose a mindless task to keep my hands busy as I listened to inspirational audio. This was not a means of distracting myself, rather, it was a means of intentionally centering myself. There was no force, just comfort.
My mind began to slow.
I used to try to jump from 0 to 100 all the time.
I’d get angry about having a cluttered mind and tried to control it. I’d fight and shame myself about it, leading to more frustration, disconnection, and overwhelm. I’d eventually try to suppress the experience and avoid it as best I could while “getting everything done.”
I’d want to force myself to move from an angry state, right into a calm state. Or move from an overwhelmed state immediately into a productive, joyful stat. It didn’t work.
You have to shift from one state to the other, one step at a time and moment by moment. Just as you can’t get over a mountain in one large leap, you can’t leap from one unwanted state to an intensely desirable state, all in one swift motion. You’ll feel frustrated.
These initial, non-forceful steps were enough to help me slow down a bit so I could do my self-assessment.
I backtracked through the past week and realized that since I had caught a cold the prior week, I had fallen off of my typical self-care routine.
This was good information for me to have. Former me would have beat myself up because it was my “fault.”
This isn’t helpful or necessary. In fact, unforgiving self-critique is counterproductive and keeps people stuck. So, I used this information to formulate my “move back into alignment” plan.
I recognized what had gotten off track. I gave myself permission to not need to know or do everything, and simply accept that I have the right to learn and to grow, forever and for always.
I decided where I wanted my emotional experience to be focused. I wanted to be connected with gratitude. That always felt good to me.
I journaled to counter the overwhelm, writing what felt good and what I was grateful for. I’d encourage you to also turn to some sort of journaling and allow what’s in your mind to flow onto paper.
I started to experience a palpable shift, both emotionally and mentally. I allowed myself to share my appreciation for this movement.
With the information I gathered, a relaxed state and increased clarity, I was able to create a practical plan to get back into my self-care routine.
My mind clutter dissipated!
Here’s an overview of the 5 steps:
- Intentionally slow down and move inward
- Mindfully focus on a mindless task
- Take a self-assessment. “Where am I at (i.e. frustrated) and where do I want to be (i.e. a state of gratitude)?” (IMPORTANT this is NOT about “what conditions can I control or manipulate!” Don’t focus on what you can’t control)
- Give yourself permission to shift to the desired emotional space (for example, gratitude)
- Create and follow a plan that feels good to you and for you
Depending on where you’re at in your life journey, you may find that walking through these steps is difficult to do alone. If that’s the case, I highly recommend connecting with a qualified professional to help guide you.
Wishing you wellness,
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|Dr. Toni Warner, LCSW, MSW, MeD, is a transformational life & wellness coach for the ambitious seeking balance and a licensed psychotherapist in Pennsylvania. Her mission is to inspire and enact positive change in the world. She helps heart-centered impact makers to stress less & create balance.|