Here are some simple practices and habits that can help reduce stress and calm our active minds (and an opportunity for you to share what YOU do to declutter your mind).
Meditate. Mindful meditation and other mindful practices help us to observe and process our thoughts and feelings. You can find free guided meditations from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) on their website or app. Also, Los Angeles County residents can get the Headspace Meditation app for free.
Repeat daily affirmations. When you wake up and turn in at bedtime, repeat a daily affirmation to help you handle whatever comes your way and to support a calm mind. Simple suggestion to start: I welcome peace.
Take breathing breaks. Breathing practices help calm us, any time of the day. Try the simple five-finger breathing practice (also called Starfish breathing) by holding up one hand and using the index finger of your other hand to slowly trace up and down your fingers, inhaling as you trace up one finger, and exhaling as you trace down it. Here’s a video demonstration of five-finger breathing.
Write down your thoughts. Journaling and making lists of what’s on our minds can calm and settle us. You can write down the thoughts that keep popping up in your mind and explore how they make you feel, then take a break. For those thoughts that keep coming up? Consider what, if anything, you can do, then seek solutions or support, as needed. (We have support groups for those living with mental health conditions and for family members who have loved ones living with mental health conditions).
Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature is a soothing way to calm your body and mind and manage rumination. More on the mental health benefits of spending time in nature.
Aim for better sleep. When we’re exhausted, we can find ourselves more lost in thought and overwhelmed. Sleep is necessary for good physical and mental health. More on getting good sleep for good mental health here.
Slow down and focus. Multitasking? Slow down and try to take on one task at a time to help keep your mind focussed.
Move more. Exercise relaxes us and is good for the brain by reducing stress hormones and can also help stop rumination.
Manage your social media consumption. Unfollow social media accounts that unsettle you or make you feel insecure. Limit your exposure to news and avoid doom-scrolling on news websites and apps.
Community Voices Question: How do you declutter your mind?
Answers from NAMI WLA team members
“I find the best way to declutter my mind is to do water aerobics. I call it my wishing well. I think about possibilities and work them out in the pool. I am in such gratitude when I am in the pool. When I leave, I feel free and can handle the world.” —Cynthia
“When my mind is cluttered with too many thoughts or competing demands, I pause and take a moment to calm myself by drawing in a few deep, cleansing breaths. I then rate my thoughts as to what is important in the here and now. If it is something I can tend to now, I will allow that thought to stay. But for the nagging thoughts that do not require immediate attention, those are acknowledged and gently excused to the ‘parking lot,’ a place where they can rest knowing they are not forgotten and will be revisited later. —Debbie
“Meditation and actually cleaning and decluttering my home help me to declutter my mind.”—Erin
“I declutter my mind by cleaning up my physical space. When my home is messy, I find it relaxing to focus on a single task of cleaning up. And after the whole process, I just feel satisfied and happy to be in a clean, bright space.” —Marian
“I declutter my mind by meditating, memorizing and saying Bible verses and psalms, or singing gospel music. Other times I like gardening, making crepe paper flowers, or making other crafts.” —Rosa
“To declutter my mind, I like to spend time in nature, especially on a dog walk by myself or with friends. I also love to cook a new recipe, and then try to eat my food outside on my porch without watching TV or scrolling through my phone mindlessly during that down time.” —Ruby