Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest Blog: A Peak Inside My Cluttered Mind

Spring Clean Your Cluttered Mind

Just like last spring, you've probably started packing away your winter clothes, cleaning closets, organizing your clutter, and making those last minute tax deductible donations to your local charity.

Too often, we forget about the clutter that we carry around with us inside of our minds. We forget because it's cluttered in there, so while we are in the cleaning and clearing mode, let's take care of inside our heads as well as outside.

So you forgot where you put your car keys... no big deal, it happens. But does it have to? 

Little things like arriving at the grocery and having no idea what you went for, looking for your glasses while wearing them, finding only one shoe in your closet when you have two feet, often makes us start to worry about losing our minds. These things are often nothing more than having a cluttered mind. There is not a reason to worry about memory loss just because you forgot something. It happens, we're only human (at least most of us are). If you are getting older, and you are worried about your mental health, please see your doctor. There are many simple tests that can rule out serious problems. In most cases, however, the culprit isn't Alzheimer's disease or a similar condition. Instead, most experts consider these temporary lapses to be a normal age-related change in memory function.

It is suggested that focusing and reducing 'mental clutter' may help. 'Reduce clutter. If you don't, you may not get anything done.'

Here are five techniques to try:

Practice 'mindfulness.' Take a class in meditation, listen to a relaxation tape, or try yoga or tai chi. These techniques can help even chronic multi-taskers focus better on one thought at a time.

Turn off your gadgets. Nothing overloads our brains so much as our little electronic leashes that interrupt us in the middle of one task to focus on another. Go ahead, power down your smartphone for an hour - you'll survive! And unless you are really paying attention, turn off the TV and radio talk shows. There is no use in adding a competing information stream.

Listen to music. Though music can be distracting if you are trying to concentrate, it also can help banish unwanted thoughts. To promote a tranquil state of mind, pick music that is calming and soothing. No matter what type of music you like, there are choices that will help you unwind.

Write things down and put them aside. Are you fretting about tomorrow's tasks even though there is nothing you can do about them today? Do you work problems over and over in your mind, obsess about past events, or compile an ever-growing mental 'to-do' list? Keep a notebook where you can write down the thoughts that are swirling around in your head. The list will still be there when you need it.

Get some exercise and spend some time in nature. Physical activity is a great way to clear the mind, and spending time in green spaces provides a calming sense of perspective.

With a little practice, you'll be able to move some of that useless clutter out of your mind, leaving room for things you really need.

[excerpts from CaringNews.com]

Learn More

The American Psychological Association's Psychology Help Center offers consumer information on emotional health and wellness.

To find a fun tutorial on selecting music to match your activities and moods, see "Your Playlist Can Change Your Life" in the Los Angeles Times.

The Concordia University study cited above first appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

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