How to Declutter Your Mind (Including Advice From Spiritual Leaders)

Decluttering your mind is essential to happiness.

Decluttering your mind is essential to happiness. Photo: Darius Bashar

“A person might be an expert in any field of knowledge or a master of many material skills and accomplishments. But without inner cleanliness, his brain is a desert waste.”

-Sathya Sai Baba

In the era of social media and smartphones, it can be easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the constant stream of information heading your way. Almost three-quarters of adults experience psychological symptoms caused by stress in their daily lives, which can create a chaotic mental space and disrupt concentration.

Listening to spiritual advice from leaders of all faiths can help you to clear your mind, giving you the chance to live each day with a greater sense of peace and focus.

Prioritize

“That one plant should be sown and another be produced cannot happen; whatever seed is sown, a plant of that kind even comes forth.”

-Guru Nanak

If you want to see positive changes in your life, you need to be proactive. You should figure out what you want out of life, and take steps to reach your goal. Doing this makes it easier to eliminate the nonessential, freeing up the mental space you need to focus on your top priorities.

Remember, though, that your goals and aspirations are likely to change as you age. The course of your job and your relationships can alter your perception of what’s important over the years. It’s a good idea to revisit and update your list of priorities every so often to keep up with your ever-evolving lifestyle.

Breathe

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

-Siddhartha Gautama 

Enjoying the present will help keep your mind centered.

Enjoying the present will help keep your mind centered. Photo: Caique Silva

Taking a moment to live in the here and now can help to keep your mind centered. It gives you the chance to let go of negative thoughts and emotions in favor of positive sight, sounds, and feelings.

Deep breathing techniques are one of the best ways to calm your mind and body in the middle of a hectic day. You can take five minutes out of your home or work schedule to stop, breathe, and enjoy the present. Doing so not only helps to clear the mind but can also relax the body and even lower your heart rate.

It’s best to find a quiet space where you can be alone for a few minutes to practice breathing, such as your bedroom, personal office, or even your car. There are a variety of deep breathing exercises that you can try, many stemming from Ayurvedic and religious practices:

  • Sama Vritti, or “Equal Breathing”: Find balance by inhaling and exhaling for equal counts.
  • Abdominal Breathing: Calm yourself by placing one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, then taking a deep breath while controlling your diaphragm.
  • Progressive Relaxation: Eliminate tension by focusing on relaxing isolated muscle groups during each slow breath.
  • Nadi Shodhana, or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”: Unite both sides of your body by inhaling and exhaling through alternating nostrils.
  • Kapalabhati, or “Skull Shining Breath”: Energize your body by beginning with a long, slow inhale and then a powerful exhale through the nose. As you continue to breathe, pick up the pace.

Write

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”

-Martin Luther

Writing down your thoughts and feelings changes who you are and the world around you.

Writing down your thoughts and feelings changes who you are and the world around you. Photo: Brent Gorwin

Writing changes the world not only around us but also the world within. It helps us to organize and analyze our thoughts, essentially clearing our mind of chaos and confusion, separating the real from the fake.

By putting your thoughts on paper, you free up valuable mental space and reach a deeper understanding of yourself.

One of the best emotional outlets for an overwhelmed mind is a journal. According to a study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, keeping a journal or diary can help to ward off intrusive thoughts and improve your short-term memory. Many people also use writing to help cope with the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Create

“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.”

-Pope John Paul II

Art, like writing, is a healthy emotional outlet when your mind is feeling overstimulated. You can express complex thoughts and feelings through painting, music, dance, or even drama. Not only does sharing your emotions with the world ease the burden on your own mind but also to refocus your mental faculties on the more important things in life.

Even if you aren’t artistic, you can benefit from the creative side of humanity. Try visiting a museum or a gallery and enjoy the work of other artists. Simply observing beauty in creation can help to heal the mind and boost your mood.

Talk

“The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.”

-Dalai Lama

Talking is essential experience a sense of peace in your life.

Talking is essential experience a sense of peace in your life. Photo: rawpixel

Talking things out helps to solve more than just interpersonal issues. If you have pent-up feelings or emotions, sharing the burden with a friend or family member can help to give you a greater sense of peace in your daily life. You can also gain a different perspective on your problems, helping you to come up with more effective solutions.

Just remember, though, that every relationship should include give-and-take. If a loved one is patient enough to listen to your concerns, it’s only fair that you return the favor.

Those who aren’t comfortable speaking with friends and family about their life can always turn to religious leaders, spiritual guides, and psychic advisors for guidance.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are also an option for those seeking the help of a trained professional.

Disconnect

“The media only writes about the sinners and the scandals, he said, but that’s normal because a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.”

-Pope Francis

For many people, social media is a way of life. They spend countless hours posting updates, uploading selfies, and responding to notifications from online friends and followers.

While social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can help to keep us connected, they can also lead to an unhealthy obsession. People get distracted from work and lose sleep thanks to the emotional stress of socializing 24/7. Additionally, many people end up feeling disenchanted with their own lives when comparing it to the posts of others.

While you don’t necessarily have to quit social media, cutting back can have a positive impact on your mental health. In one study, volunteers who quit Facebook for just five days reported feeling less stressed.

In addition to restricting your social media time, you should also set a curfew for work calls and emails. These days, too many employees are expected to be available during their off-hours, essentially turning each workday into a 24-hour affair. For the benefit of your mental health, you should set firm boundaries with your employer and ensure that your time off belongs to you, and you alone.

Clean

“In every aspect of life, purity, and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition . . . Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality.”

-Abdu’l-Baha

Cleaning is more than just a mundane task - it helps you stay mentally more efficient and healthy.

Cleaning is more than just a mundane task – it helps you stay mentally more efficient and healthy. Photo: rawpixel

Cleanliness is more than just about appearance. It’s a way of life, making our day-to-day routine easier. People who live or work in a messy environment tend to be less efficient, more frustrated, and even less healthy than those who stay clean.

Having a clear and well-organized space means that you won’t have to stress out about losing keys or worry about having clean clothes for the next workday. Instead, you can focus on the task at hand without getting distracted by small chores.

You should set aside some time each night to clear up your space and get everything ready so that you can start the next day fresh.

In addition to picking up after yourself each day, you should also schedule regular deep-cleaning sessions. Here are a couple of things that you can do on a weekly or monthly basis to keep your home and your workspace free of clutter:

  • Scrub down grout and tiles
  • Organize your closet
  • Donate extra goods to charity
  • Clear out the fridge
  • Meal prep
  • Shred old or unnecessary documents

Exercise

“Physical education for the body to be effective must be rigorous and detailed, far-sighted and methodological. This will be translated into habits. These habits should be controlled and disciplined while remaining flexible enough to adapt themselves to circumstances and to the needs of growth and development of the being.”

-Sri Aurobindo

Don't forget to exercise - it's essential to a healthy body and mind.

Don’t forget to exercise – it’s essential to a healthy body and mind. Photo: Fil Mazzarino

In order to have a healthy mind, you need to have a healthy body. No matter what your age, it’s vital that you stay active and keep fit. Exercise offers a whole myriad of health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Higher energy levels
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes and certain cancers
  • Fight depression and anxiety
  • Boost memory
  • Improve sleeping and eating patterns

By taking up a regular exercise routine, you can work to improve your mood and free your mind. Not only that, but it can help to ensure long-term brain health, reducing your risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s or related forms of dementia in old age.

When you work out, try to take your routine outside a couple of times each week. Spending time outdoors can do just as much for a stressed mind as getting your heart rate up. Nature brings us back in touch with our roots and removes us from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Sleep

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I’m reborn.” 

-Gandhi

Experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night, but research suggests that more than a third of Americans are getting less on a regular basis. Sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on our health, leading to issues such as high blood pressure, weakened immunity, and weight gain.

Insomnia can also cause mental and emotional distress, including mood swings, anxiety, depression, and memory impairments.

Anyone who has gone more than twenty-four hours without sleep can tell you that it impairs cognitive functioning. Not only does insomnia make it more difficult to process new information, but it can also affect judgment, impulse control, and reaction times.

It’s virtually impossible for a sleep-deprived mind to function with clarity.

If you find yourself having trouble relaxing or concentrating, you may want to work on improving your sleep hygiene. Here are a couple of tricks that may help you to sleep better at night:

  • Turn off the screens: The blue light from smartphones, laptops, and TVs can throw off your circadian rhythm. You should turn screens off about 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime and opt for a book instead.
  • Set a schedule: If you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, your body will settle into a routine and make it easier to fall asleep at night. It’s also a good idea to avoid naps.
  • Don’t eat before bed: A big meal before bed can upset your stomach and cause heartburn when lying down. If anything, stick to small, bland snacks such as crackers before bed. You should also avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Keep your room cool: If the space around you is hot, the chances are that you’re going to have trouble sleeping. You should try to keep your room between 60 and 67℉ for a good night’s sleep.
  • Use your bed for sleep only: If you study or surf the web from your bed, your brain learns to associate the area with wakefulness. Try to confine these activities to other rooms and keep the bedroom for sleeping only.

Living with Clarity

A chaotic mental space can make it difficult to stay motivated and productive as you work. Too much information or overstimulation can send your brain into overdrive and leave you feeling burnt out and exhausted. When your mind is full of clutter, it makes it difficult to ground yourself in the present and enjoy yourself in the here and now.

Making small changes to your lifestyle can have a huge impact on how you think, act, and feel throughout the day. Decluttering your mind and freeing up mental space can help you to focus on what you want out of life and achieve your goals without distraction.

Spiritual leaders of all faiths and religions have poignant advice to offer on how to keep a clear and conscientious mind. By watching the way we think and act, we can work to shut out the fear and worry that holds us back, instead concentrating our energy on the good in life.