It’s not uncommon to feel completely overwhelmed while we are struggling with stress, and anxiety regularly. A growing number of people experience the effects of living a fast-paced life, which often contributes to these factors and many other negative thoughts and feelings.
This ongoing experience is known as the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The brain is responsible for many functions, including cognitive functions, which impacts our attention span and regulates our dopamine and cognitive controls.
Excessive stress has a profound effect on the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which as a result, may impair some of its functions, including the working memory, emotional responses, concentration, and other adverse results that can reduce our overall quality of life.
While many stressful external situations at home and work can’t be avoided, there are helpful and constructive ways to reduce stress and clear the mind for improved mental health and well-being.
So, let’s begin by understanding how to clear your mind effectively.
How to Clear Your Mind Effectively:
1. Listen to Your Favorite Music
Music has a therapeutic effect on emotions and your mood. How often does a pleasant tune or song conjure up good feelings and memories within you?
Music provides several benefits, in addition to lifting your mood and helping clear your mind by increasing your ability to concentrate, reduce anxiety, and improve motivation.
Often, people who listen to music regularly are able to focus better and pay attention to projects without feeling the adverse effects of stress. Listening to your favorite music allows your head to clear those negative thoughts you may be having, while you relax and concentrate on work or take a well deserved break.
2. Go for a Walk
One of the best ways of clearing your mind is to take a walk. It’s a great way to enjoy light exercise and focus on the moment while reducing any anxious feelings in the process. Taking a minimum walk of twenty minutes every day will reduce negative thinking and allow your body to de-stress.
Walking gives your mind the ability to reset, so you can avoid distractions when you return to work or home.
Exercise offers many advantages for physical and mental health and promotes being present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Your mind also becomes more creative during exercise, which boosts your performance and cognitive function overall and allows for better focus and mindfulness in your life.
3. Clean or Purge Home or Office Space
Suppose a personal space at home or work is cluttered or congested. In that case, this will heighten your stressors and increase your feeling of being in a negative situation, according to research on the effects of living and working spaces on mental health.
While it’s best to keep your immediate environment clean and tidy, it’s not always practical when you have a heavy workload and many commitments.
It’s easy to put off one thing for another, especially when cleaning, as it can be time-consuming and difficult to accomplish within a short period of time.
A long-term project or job can become draining and leave little time to control your work or home space. For many people, it’s common to procrastinate when it comes to cleaning, as the effects of depression and stress can slow down any efforts to get motivated.
As a result, tackling any task becomes more difficult for you, such as, as paperwork and related items continue to pile up, leaving less space to get productive and achieve results.
Clearing your space not only has the effect of offering a calm, relaxing space, but it also improves your energy levels and contributes to an effective way to clear your mind.
Investing in a new organizing system or trying a new technique for managing tasks will help reach more deadlines and improve performance while improving the quality of your life and work.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Many people do not get a solid night of rest, which significantly impacts your cognitive performance and overall mental health. It’s common to experience erratic changes in emotions and distress, increased fatigue, and the inability to make clear decisions when you have not had enough sleep.
A lack of sleep can also impact your memory, and thoughts begin to feel overwhelmingly hard to separate or recognize clearly, ultimately feeling like a “fog” or jumbled thoughts in your mind.
Optimal mental performance requires a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, so that your body and mind can let go of stressors and rumination (repetitive thoughts) and shut down to recharge fully for the next day.
A good night’s rest is required to detach the mind from anxious feelings that linger after a day’s work or a busy week. If falling asleep is a challenge for you, avoid caffeine late into the evening, and try not to eat snacks after the last meal of the day.
A few minutes of meditation or deep breathing will allow your mind to break free and provide you with the ability to think clearly and sleep properly. Use whatever method works best for you to relax, whether it’s taking a bath with soothing music or doing some light stretching before bed.
Avoid getting involved with any thought-provoking activities too soon before sleep, as this may prevent a good night’s rest.
5. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal and writing down important thoughts and emotions every day can offer a balanced perspective on your experiences in the present and in the long run. It’s also an important way to free your mind of rumination and release the mind from stress.
Writing down your thoughts and experiences provides you with the opportunity to search for solutions, which also provides you with greater control or power over your mind, while allowing some important time to breathe and let the issue go for a moment.
Often stressful situations and ongoing matters can feel as though they are piling up and are becoming a much larger set of obstacles than they really are. Writing offers you a different perspective and sometimes a more realistic lens.
Sometimes, your most significant worries and fears that are ever-present go unnoticed until you acknowledge and record them as a way to clear them from your conscious thinking.
Keeping a journal is a great way to logically work through your problems, let go of them and provide your mind with some rest from continually ruminating your issues.
Before starting a journal:
- Make a personal commitment to consistently write something every day, even if it’s for just a few minutes.
- Make a practice of writing in the evening, as a way of releasing those thoughts and emotions you have had from the day, before falling asleep.
- Don’t censor or strike out anything written; keep the flow natural and authentic.
Spelling and grammar don’t have to be perfect when you write because the point of the exercise is to gain perspective and feel a sense of release. Remember that your journal is for your eyes only, so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
After a few journal entries, pause to review and reflect on what you’ve written and explore tips for personal improvement and growth.
This process will allow you to have a greater understanding of which thoughts are recurring and will make it easier to overcome or resolve these issues with some planning and support.
6. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
The mind requires exercise just as much as the body, and meditation allows your mind to become free of negative thoughts, emotions, and anxiety by focusing on your breath and living in the present.
Just ten minutes of meditation each day offers your body and mind a way to release negative energy and thinking patterns while inviting positive thoughts and benefits into your life at the same time.
During mindfulness practices, all of the tense areas in the body learn to relax, which is essential to clear your mind.
Meditation is a powerful way to release the mind from all the anxiety and stress that has built up over the course of a day, allowing you with the opportunity to take a pause, embrace the moment, breathe deeply, and relax.
It’s a wonderful exercise to perform while sitting in a calm, comfortable, and quiet space or when you are enjoying a walk in nature to reflect on the moment and release any negative thinking you may have.
The Power of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a healthy way to clear your mind by becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and the environment with self-care in mind.
Practicing mindfulness allows you to observe and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings in the present without judging them.
Thoughts are often accompanied by a reaction of whether they are good or bad, instead of simply accepting them and moving on. It’s an important way of learning how to clear your mind while remaining calm and relaxed while also accepting and benefiting from the practice.
Many health professionals recognize the significant benefits of improving anxiety, reducing the effects of stress, and feeling free and calm.
Learning to meditate is a great foundation for establishing self-support that could help prevent the onset of a high level of anxiety, while also providing you with the ability to let them go and gain more control over your life.
7. Pay Attention to Rumination
Rumination occurs when the brain has recurring thoughts that can become intrusive and impact your regular thinking patterns.
When rumination occurs, it’s consuming and reduces your positive thinking patterns because you become focused too much on one thing, which is usually accompanied by worry or fear.
Many people engage in this practice because they think it will resolve their problems when nothing else seems to work or they believe that they will find a new idea or solution through over-thinking.
Unfortunately, rumination can actually have an isolating effect and cause adverse effects on your mental well-being by increasing the impact of depression and anxiety.
The Effect of Stress on the Brain
Physical and emotional trauma are sometimes the underlying reasons for chronic rumination. However, we often experience this repetitive habit when they have numerous stressors or anxiety-inducing issues in our life that we can’t easily control or cope with regularly.
Rumination may give some individuals the idea that they can solve the world’s problems through utilizing this process. However, it negatively impacts the brain’s prefrontal cortex performance, which includes our memory and the ability to focus.
Careful, mindful research and taking a break from those intrusive thoughts can be done successfully with a healthy distraction to clear your mind of those repetitive ideas.
You can try reading a book, learning a new breathing technique, hiking or cycling in nature, and other physically and emotionally stimulating activities.
Eat a Balanced Diet and Reduce Caffeine
Eating well is one of the most important contributions to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A diet rich in nutrients, a regular exercise routine, and meditation contribute to a solid foundation to a satisfying life.
Some harmful practices may lead to increased stressors that can prevent you from clearing your mind, which leads to a lack of sleep, focus, and stunted performance.
One of the best ways to improve your diet is to reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine in your daily intake, both of which impact the body’s blood glucose and energy levels.
While a caffeine boost may seem helpful halfway through a day’s work, the positive effect could be short-lived when the effects of that extra cup of coffee prevent you from having a good night’s rest.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
When difficult experiences and stress impact your everyday life, it can cause isolation in your life, which only accelerates rumination and negative thinking.
Instead, make it a priority to spend more time with close friends and family, in whatever capacity you can and enjoy the connection you are able to form with them and release those negative thoughts.
If you have friends and family who enjoy getting involved with team sports or other activities, this can help distract you from difficult thoughts and feelings that repeat constantly in your mind.
Physical activity helps your mind pay less attention to those negative thoughts and allows you to enjoy the present with the people you love and the surroundings that provide a positive experience.
Keep Exercise Moderate in the Evening
A high-impact exercise routine is an effective way to get into excellent physical shape and develop healthy practices, although it’s best to avoid it shortly before sleep.
Vigorous movement could raise your blood pressure and heart rate, which can work against any efforts you have made to calm your mind and fall asleep. While a good night’s rest is still possible, the hours of sleep are reduced, which can potentially impact the quality of your rest.
Regular exercise, both high intensity and low-impact, offer tremendous benefits. Keep high-impact workouts for the morning or midday, while stretching, yoga, and slower movements such as walking, are best in the evening.
Weightlifting, swimming, and cycling are ideal for the afternoon, while a deep session of Pilates and meditation is ideal about an hour before bed.
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
A diet rich in nutrients is an important way to establish good physical, emotional, and mental health. Mindful eating is a practice that allows you to slow down and enjoy your meal without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
This method gives your body time to pause and enjoy the very nature of eating, taking in the taste, texture, and experience of the break without any distractions.
It allows you to meditate and breathe as you eat, without focusing on any act or intention, but simply being in the present and savoring your meal.
Create a Healthy Routine for Your Mind and Body
Take time for yourself every day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the world’s weight, though often, these emotions are exaggerated by anxiety and stress, which affect the brain in many different ways.
It’s important to pay attention to your thoughts, experiences, and emotions that create tension within you and instead, subscribe to a routine that allows you to rest and enjoy an environment and activities that prepare you to relax.
As you prepare for sleep, dim the lights and play soft, soothing music. This will allow your body time to adjust to the idea of slowing down and getting ready for sleep.
Turn off electronics and bright lights that will interfere with your sleep. Installing a dimmer for your bedroom light switch is ideal for gradually preparing for rest, also, replacing blue light with an amber or rose-colored bulb can offer a more calming experience.
Aromatherapy is another wonderful way to treat your senses to amazing scents, such as lavender, sage, rose, and cedarwood, which can promote a better quality of sleep.
A diffuser is another great way to enjoy the scent of nature in your home while releasing your mind of cluttered thoughts.
Check the Quality of Your Bedding
Change your bedsheets often, and add one or two drops of essential oils to your pillow or bedding to enhance the relaxation sensation.
If the frame of your bed, sheets, and pillows are not accommodating for the season, make sure to change your winter comforter or flannel blankets for a light set of sheets made from natural fabrics.
Layering your bed gives you the option to add or remove sheets as you wish, so that you can make the most out of a relaxing experience, which also allows you to clear your mind and fall asleep much easier.
An electric fan and maximizing space in your home, including your bedroom, is an essential way to feel more at ease, so you don’t have too much to focus on before closing your eyes.
If you feel awake late into the evening, with no chance of falling asleep soon, then accept it and try light exercise such as pilates and take some time to meditate.
Fighting against sleeplessness only becomes frustrating and leads to exhaustion. Instead, make all the necessary adjustments you need to support your mind and body at rest during the night, so you feel great and well-rested every morning.
There are many small and impactful ways to clear your mind, from taking a deep breath and learning when to take a break, to making significant changes in your daily routine, to reducing feelings of stress and being overwhelmed through practicing mindfulness and utilizing exercise.
Below we have mentioned a few more helpful techniques that can also be implemented in your life, to continue reducing your stress, allow you to enjoy a good night’s rest and clear your brain of negative thinking. These techniques include:
- Focus on positive thoughts – Many things can’t be fixed overnight, and often one thing will linger if we allow it to. Instead, focus on something humorous, or a positive feeling or experience at work or home, that will release you from the negativity and give you positive thoughts to dwell on.
- Use mantras to soothe the mind and body into a restful state – Say things like “I feel calm,” “I’m ready for sleep,” and visualize ocean waves, the sound of rain, or other sounds in nature that feel good and relax you.
- Consider a scene or place that brings you peace, and visualize it during a stressful experience – This scene may include a beach shoreline, enjoying the star-lit sky on a clear night, or hiking in the forest. Keep the picture as vivid and enjoyable as possible, so that it can be “visited” as often as you need to change your mindset and improve your environment.
Living a balanced life can be a challenge to achieve, though it is a worthwhile effort in creating a healthier mind and body. A healthy lifestyle offers all the essential tools and support needed for you to clear your mind of negativity while boosting your own well-being and sense of peace.