Do you feel overwhelmed by everything? Are you easily triggered by every little thing? If you answer yes to both of these questions, your mind is telling you that it needs some rest but fret not as you’re not the only one who is feeling this way. Of course, there are multiple ways for you to declutter your mind but below are the five most common ways you can try to do when everything seems oh-just-too much.
1. Write it down
This is very cliché but it’s true. Most of the time, we feel overwhelmed because we are not able to compartmentalise our priorities. So, take the time to write what’s on your mind. More often than not, things will become clearer once you see it on paper. Ryder Carroll, the inventor of Bullet Journal calls this step mental inventory. According to this article by Hailey Reissman, it is a process of listing down what you want to do, what you should be doing, and the things you want to do. Carroll also highly recommends bullet journaling if you're a beginner. One-click on the web and you will find plenty of articles and aesthetic tutorial videos on bullet journaling. Take your time to explore them and pick one that you think speaks to you. Learning to bullet journaling is a great step for those of you who are not a writer and it will also help you stay organised.
2. Prioritise and plan
Once you have learnt the art of bullet journaling, this second step will come almost naturally. You will begin to see what is important and what is not. Some things to ponder on while creating your priority list, according to this article written by Noma Nazish in Forbes are “What are your life aspirations and your long-term goals?” If at the moment you are doing two different things in your life, take the time to recognise the level of importance for each of them. Sometimes, without realising, we become too focused on getting everything done all at once to the point of exhausting ourselves. Don’t rush. Slow down and take the time to create a plan that fits best with your schedule and your mental health. Don't worry if your priority list changes as time goes by. This is only natural but what matters is you have your priorities straight and effective ways to achieve it.
3. Stop multitasking
Cultivate a habit of focusing only on one thing at a time and if you’re not sure how to begin, start by making a simple and realistic list. Another method you can use is to adopt a single-task habit. The article from Zen Habits has listed down 11 things you can do to adopt this habit. Go ahead and try it. If you are juggling between two tasks, the best thing to do is to allocate a specific time for each of the tasks.
If you are a part-time Master's student who is also working full-time, avoid bringing in your studies to your work and vice versa. For example, choose a class schedule that will not interrupt your working time and only work on your class assignments after your working hours. In this fast-paced world, being able to only do one thing at a time does not mean you are less capable than the rest, it just means you are simply more mindful of your mental state and that is never a bad thing. Aside from that, you will also minimise your chance of burning out.
4. Take the time to unwind
Just like Carroll said in his TedTalk, “Time is not a renewable resource. You can’t make time. You can only take time.” We have been told a million times to just take a break but how many of us have managed to do it? Even when we’re not working, we are working by thinking about work and other things that are going in our lives which in the long-run can overwhelm us. So, no matter how difficult it is, force yourself to take the time to relax. Go for a walk, switch off your gadgets, connect with nature. If it's hard for you to go to a park or hiking is just not for you, simply look up at the sky. If it's raining, stop and watch the rain, you’d be surprised at how therapeutic it can be. Not to mention, it will also help you to be more present.
5. Let go of what you can’t control
Now, time for the hardest step. Identify what is not essential in your life, recognize what you can and cannot change. Always be alert of how you're feeling inside and know when to let go of unnecessary worries and stress. At the end of the day, you can't take on everything and as much as you want to, you will never be able to control everything. Sometimes, the universe has its plan and you have no choice but to follow along. What you can control, however, is how you respond to things that are happening around you, who you are and your thoughts. So, take care of these matters and simply release yourself of the burden of carrying the whole world on your shoulder. Embrace the fact that you don’t need to hold everything in the palm of your hands and let fate decide the rest.
Just like our closet, our mind also needs a spring cleaning every once in a while. Here’s another bonus tip: declutter your space. For example, I would always find myself cleaning my room whenever I feel overwhelmed. After a quick clean, I find my thoughts to be clearer. It does not make whatever I was worrying about disappear but I always find myself being able to think more clearly afterwards. Don't believe me? Try it! Last but not least, take it one step at a time. The world is already chaotic itself, so don't add more chaos to yourself. Take a deep breath, count one to three and be kind to yourself.