Much like having a house cluttered with items you don’t really need, it’s easy for your emotions to get fouled up from random worries, mounds of irrelevant information, and even the pressure to have everything go perfectly! This pile-up can stand in your way of feeling calm, clear-headed and in control of your life. The following tips can help streamline your thoughts and tame your emotional clutter, leaving a clear path to feeling more centered and productive.
Start with mindfulness. This simple practice involves focusing your thoughts on the moment at hand, typically by turning your full attention to your breathing. Here’s how to do it:
- Find a quiet place and close your eyes. Focus on each slow, deep inhale and exhale, repeating to yourself “let go” on the exhale.
- If intrusive thoughts arise, observe them like clouds drifting by without judgment, and return your attention to your breathing. Both your breathing and heart rate will soon slow down, helping to clear away anxious, stressful feelings. You’ll feel more focused, energetic and able to handle life’s challenges.
- Start with 5 minutes of mindfulness a day, working up to at least 30 minutes.
Stash your worries in a worry journal. A good way to corral those nagging worries that keep you from enjoying pleasurable moments is to set aside time daily to jot down these distracting concerns in a journal. Later you can review them and write out what you need to do to help resolve the worry.
Manage information overload. For example, to avoid being bogged down by a flood of emails or phone messages, tell your friends what information you do and don’t want to receive, such as jokes, political news, etc. And resist the temptation to search the internet for snippets of information on endless subjects–limit your searches to finding the information you need to answer top priority concerns.
Shut out distressing news! Try removing some of the news apps and constant feeds from your phone or computer. Switch to listening to uplifting podcasts or music on your commute. At first, you may feel more nervous that you’re missing something, but by being selective, you may feel less reactive. Or, consider offsetting the stress by getting involved in your community—you may feel empowered that you are making a difference.
Let go of perfectionism. Instead, strive to achieve your personal best. Remind yourself that not everyone or every situation is truly “perfect.” Everyone has their own issues and insecurities, but not everyone reveals them.
If you continue to feel overwhelmed, unable to focus, or are preoccupied with worries and it’s affecting your ability to function up to par, let your healthcare practitioner know. He or she may suggest counseling, stress management techniques or other forms of support to help you feel more clear-headed.