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In this day and age of multi-tasking, the ability to juggle three or more projects at once has become the norm. As a result, the mind becomes as crowded with thoughts as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
Thoughts of work, relationships, family, and sometimes even health concerns all jumble together inside the ol’ grey matter, competing with one another at any given moment to see which of those voices rises loudest above the din.
Here are a few fun and creative ways that may help you to better manage your mind and find a sense of peace within the chaos.
1. Engage in Physical Activity
Reclaim your brain by forgoing mental activity and focusing on a physical challenge.
Whether your activity of choice may be a spirited salsa dance class, lifting weights, or a soothing session of yoga; just one hour of exercise or physical activity will give you a chance to focus on nothing but the task at hand, giving your brain a chance to recharge.
It’s hard to allow your thoughts to scatter in a million and one directions when you’re two-stepping or if you have a 50 lb. weight suspended above your head.
Additionally, the endorphins produced by a good, ol’ fashioned workout can boost your mood, as well, allowing you to tackle your myriad tasks with renewed vigor and gain a fresh perspective once you’ve had a chance to decompress.
2. Chill Out With a Good Book
There is no greater escape than reading. There are no commercials that trigger latent “keeping up with the Joneses” (or Kardashians) tendencies and no interruptions from fully immersing yourself in a story that speaks to you.
Even the act of walking through a bookstore to choose some new reading material can have a calming effect. Pick up an autobiography written by a person you admire or a historical era you have always wanted to learn more about.
Or, swing by the fiction section and check out a horror novel or some chick lit. Don’t feel pressured that you have to “learn something” from whatever you’re reading. (Although, I can personally vouch for having learned quite a bit from reading some of Charles Bukowski’s works of pseudo-fiction.) It’s all about allowing the story in your hands to help sweep away the mental debris.
3. Let It All Out… Constructively and Creatively!
Channel your scattered thoughts into something productive. Writerly types can condense their thoughts on the printed page by “blogging it out” or writing away the clutter in their mind in their journal.
The more visually-oriented among us can splash some paint on a canvas or go for a stroll outside to take photos.
Engaging in acts of creativity can help better structure one’s thoughts and transform them into something tangible that can be approached, as opposed to scattered pieces of a puzzle hanging in the ether.
4. Take Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
Familiarity breeds contempt. Familiarity can also breed stagnant thoughts. Rather than do things the same way every day, try doing something a little out of the ordinary.
The monotony of adhering to a daily routine can make even the simplest of tasks seem daunting. There are a number of ways you can switch things up:
- Reverse the order that you usually approach your daily “to-do” list.
- If you’re a writer, try to visualize your cluttered thoughts instead of allowing them to form a ticker-tape of words across your brain.
- Conversely, if you’re a visual-thinker, try writing down your thoughts on a notepad, boiling them down to concise statements.
- Pack a PB&J sandwich for lunch instead of your standard tuna-on-whole-wheat.
Yes, that last one may sound ridiculous (and if you have peanut allergies, you may want to nix that idea altogether!), but deviating from the norm at least once a day can give you a new way to approach tasks and make your mental clutter easier to manage.
5. Breathe / Meditate
Ever hear someone under a lot of stress say “I really need a cigarette right now!”? What that person probably needs is to take a deep breath.
Yet, if you pause to think about the actions involved in smoking a cigarette — deep inhalations and exhalations of breath – it’s clear that deep breathing is a more constructive way of collecting your thoughts when you’re not voluntarily inhaling carcinogens. Breathe deeply and clear your mind of all distractions.
When thoughts of that project deadline or monthly bills start to creep into your meditation, consciously push them out. Organize your mind the way you do your home or office: Everything has its place.
Meditation can help increase self-awareness, to recognize who you are outside of your career or designated roles you’ve taken on within your family or social circles.