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Spring clean your mind

gunnell-aug12-mindFeeling burdened? Get your mental mop and duster out to give your head an airing

Are you losing sleep over your increasing list of chores? Are you sick of losing your temper in queues, and spending days filled with anxiety at the prospect of a big work project looming over you? If so, you are probably suffering from brain overload and it’s time to sort out what’s going on in your head. Fix your problem with a tailor-made solution…

You worry a lot
Solution: Worrying is about as useful as the proverbial chocolate teapot – yet we all do it. Ask yourself if you can actually change something by worrying about it. If you can take positive action, take it. If not, take a deep breath, count to 10 and call up a happy memory instead. Counteract your worry habit with pleasure, too. Plan at least one activity  to look forward to each day – whether it’s a chat with a friend, a walk in the park, a meal in a restaurant or even a few luscious moments in the shower with some pampering products.

You can’t say ‘no’
Solution: Contrary to popular belief, saying ‘no’ doesn’t have to be negative. If your habit is to say ‘yes’ to everything and then drown under the stress of it all, spring-cleaning your mind is all about learning to take on less. Start by saying ‘no’ to someone at least once a day. Don’t blurt it out angrily. Instead, explain why, or even say something like, ‘I can’t do it today, but I could fit it in next week,’ and see what happens. Soon, you’ll be confident enough to say ‘no’ whenever you need to. You’ll soon feel its empowering effect.

You can’t get sorted
Solution: Your mind will often be full of thoughts such as, ‘Where did I put my handbag?’ or, ‘Do I need to do a food shop today?’, which can sap your mental energy if they build up too much. To avoid this, try to be as organised as possible. There’s nothing more infuriating than misplacing an item – keys are a common example – so always put important items in the same place. Also, if you plan ahead, you won’t have to think about whether to do a certain activity, such as going to the supermarket, on the day itself. Instead, you will already know for certain whether or not you need to do it.

You hold on to negative feelings
Solution: It’s you and you alone who is in charge of what goes through your mind. And yet, somehow, many people allow themselves to become bogged down with all manner of negative thoughts. If you go around thinking like this the whole time, you’re never going to be in a particularly good mood. So it’s best, whenever possible, to let go of them as it will relieve your mind of excessive stress. After all, if something has made you mad, what good is there in stewing over it all day?

You can’t focus
Solution: If your head is swimming with things to be done and you’re getting interrupted frequently, you’ll be getting nowhere and feel like your mind is in overload. Interruptions can cause your productivity to plummet, so avoid them. If you have something particularly important to do for work, then consider working from home if you’re allowed to do so. That way, you’ll be able to avoid the majority of interruptions that may occur in your workplace. Simple things such as closing your office door – a sign to people that you don’t want to be disturbed – will also help avoid interruptions.

You feel stuck
Solution: One of the easiest ways to clutter your mind is to put off tasks that have to be done sooner rather than later. They just sit in your head and niggle away so that you can never quite concentrate on the task you are doing at the time. So, just do whatever it is you need to do as soon as possible. You can then get it out of your mind and focus on the next task.  If you don’t, you’ll put more energy into thinking about doing something than actually doing it! Remember: it’s amazing how quickly you can do something once you finally commit yourself to doing it.

You can’t stop the static in your head
Solution: Some people seem unable to give themselves a break – yet by working non-stop they become more bogged down, so that eventually they can’t think straight and end up making mistakes. Taking a few minutes away from your current task or activity will help you clear your head. You can then come back more refreshed, with greater clarity and a clearer vision. A short break between tasks will make you far more productive than if you simply attempt to wade through one consecutive task after another.

You can’t see the wood for the trees
Solution: Sometimes it can be a case of missing the obvious. A solution to a problem may be staring you in the face, yet you’re unable to see it – and, typically, the more you wrestle with it, the more your brain gets bogged down and cluttered with potentially unproductive thoughts. If you feel this starting to happen, enlist the help of a friend who may bring a different perspective to the problem. You may even be able to find a solution and lighten your load more quickly than you would have done on your own.

 


This article was first published in at home with Sally Gunnell in August 2012. [Read the digital edition here]


 

Image: Shutterstock

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