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Heading for burnout? Here's how to declutter your mind

Your to-do list is stacking up, and with it, mounds of stress.

Everything feels overwhelming, and you have a creeping need to scream/run away/hide in bed forever.

How do you bring yourself back from the brink?

Best-selling author Sarah Negus is an executive coach and modern-day Shaman, who’s all about helping high-powered people tackle stress and burnout amid increasingly busy, fast-paced lives.

She says a too-full busy mind, like a too-full busy life, leads to exhaustion, stress, burnout and is a distraction technique. We distract ourselves from what is really important by filling our minds and lives with thoughts and tasks that take us away from being present, and defining what gives us purpose.

So, how do we tackle that? Ahead, Sarah shares her top tips for decluttering your mind.

‘Decluttering your mind means clearing out your habitual thoughts, and recognising the thoughts and beliefs that run just under the surface of your everyday awareness,’ she explains.

‘On average we have about 60,000 thoughts a day, so it makes sense to observe what fills your head, as your thoughts are drivers of your behaviour and actions.

‘De-cluttering is a process, something that is valuable and well worth the effort. It may be that when you begin to clear everything out, you realise you’ve made a mess, you may wish you hadn’t begun, but as you keep going, and keep de-cluttering (mind/body/space/life) and finally, you step back and look at the space you’ve created you will feel a huge sense of relief and achievement.’

Ready? Let’s get into it.

Try free-writing

‘This is a daily brain dump – a way to offload everything you have got running around in your mind,’ says Sarah. ‘Make a note of any mind chatter, any to-do lists, any recurring thoughts.

‘Over a period of a few days or weeks a theme will occur, and this theme will be linked to a belief that drives behaviour.

‘For example, if you continually free-write that you feel as though no one is listening to you and you feel misunderstood, this would lead to a belief about not feeling heard. This would then lead to a question to ask yourself – what are you not listening to from yourself about your life.

‘Keep a notebook by the side of your bed if you have trouble sleeping and allow those late at night thoughts to be written down into the book. Creating space and inviting calmness in.’

Free-writing makes sense to do right before bed, or first thing in the morning. Pick a time that works for you.

Meditate

Meditation is a practice in clearing your mind.

Sarah says: ‘Use it as something that is as resourcing as a good old cup of tea.

‘Sit up straight, with your feet on the floor and palms turned up on your lap. Allow yourself to sit for five to 12 minutes a day, bringing your focus into your mind’s eye (the space behind your eyes when your eyes are closed).

‘Notice you are observing yourself. Bring your awareness to your feet and imagine them sinking into the ground. Bring your awareness back to your mind’s eye – the space behind your closed eyes and have the intention of peace and calm.

‘Quieten your thoughts to become an inner observer of yourself and your feelings and emotions.’

Do a power pause

‘Take a moment whenever you are challenged or triggered to take stock of how you want to respond,’ Sarah recommends. ‘Do you want to respond on auto-pilot, or do you want to respond mindfully and from your best self?’

Declutter your home

It’s tricky to think clearly when you’re surrounded by physical clutter.

Sarah tells us: ‘Taking action alongside these other tools always helps – clearing out the loft, or the garage, or the garden shed, will mirror the mind dump of free-writing, it is methodical, it requires you to let go of things that are outdated and no longer have relevant in your life.

‘Clearing out the kitchen cupboards, means taking stock of what you want to use and what you don’t want to use. Taking time to decide what you want to do on an everyday basis means letting go of obligation and duty, and allowing yourself to do the things that support your own health and wellbeing.’

Spend some time in nature

‘Walking connects you to our planet, and to the natural world, it is simple and available to us all and again brings a feeling of focus and clarity in the momentum of repetitive steps,’ Sarah explains.

Get outside for a bit – sitting in the park and reading a book is always a good idea.

Take a break from your devices

Come on, you know this deep down: staring at your phone’s screen all day isn’t good for your mental wellbeing.

You don’t have to go cold turkey, but could you schedule in some screen-free time in your day? How about a digital detox for the weekend? Or even just turning off notifications for the day?

‘Continual bombardment of information creates overwhelm, and mind clutter,’ Sarah notes. ‘Take time to connect to the information within you about your life and what matters for you.’

Sarah Negus is a spiritual business coach who works with entrepeneurs to empower them to reach their full potential.

She’s also the author of Modern Day Shaman: Find A Deeper Connection With Life.

To chat about mental health in an open, non-judgmental space, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.

Follow us on Twitter at @MentallyYrs.

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