The second installment of our Spring Cleanse Series is all about clearing up one of the most cluttered spaces we have: Our minds! Yep, if you're finding that you're feeling distracted, worried, anxious, disorganized or just downright stressed lately, this post is for you. So let's get to it.
SPRING CLEANSE: YOUR MIND
INSTITUTE REGULAR DIGITAL DETOXES
The biggest reason for our distracted and disorganized states of mind? Technology. Yep, as we've written about recently, our smartphones and laptops might make us feel more connected and productive than ever, but they are quite literally draining our valuable brainpower. This is because responding to texts, "liking" Instagrams and fielding emails might seem like easy, basic tasks, but they actually require significant amounts of energy and a constant need to process information. Resultantly, we're less present, less energized and more scattered than ever. Furthermore, we've come to crave these interactions with our screens; studies like this one show that we're increasingly addicted to our technology -- and experience withdrawal symptoms when we cannot access things like our phones or the Internet. This is why it's more important than ever to shut down our screens and find time to "detox." Use this new season as an opportunity to instate rules limiting technology use. We personally try and do four hours tech-free on Sundays, which is a relatively easy place to start.
TURN OFF THE NEWS
Regardless of your political orientation, does anyone else feel like the news is bringing them down lately? It's a topic we've discussed on the blog -- and an area that we're always working on -- but we struggle with the increasingly fraught state of affairs here in the United States and beyond. While meditation and calming techniques can help, sometimes stepping away from the acrimonious and polarizing news cycle is a necessary (and totally healthy) coping mechanism. In lieu of watching your evening news, then, try reading a book or taking a bath. If you still like to stay in the loop, subscribe to a newspaper or a weekly magazine and use your "current events" time for thoughtful reading, not depressing TV punditry.
GO FOR REGULAR LONG WALKS
Although exercising can be amazingly mind-clearing, intense workouts can sometimes have us thinking "I wish this was over" versus "Isn't this lovely?" Long walks are a great way to use your body, clear your mind and engage in some thoughtful time with yourself or with others. Aim to do 1-2 long walks per week, either by yourself or with a partner. Listening to music is fine, but if you can handle it, try going totally tech-free. Use this time to observe your surroundings, organize your thoughts and feel your body and breath.
WORK WITH YOUR HANDS
Love cooking? Into knitting? All about DIY-ing? Get out of your head and channel some of that pent-up energy into physical work. You may find that some of the issues that are causing you to engage in mental gymnastics will naturally work themselves out while chopping some veggies, plus you'll give yourself a much-needed (focused) distraction from all that's going on inside of your head. Added bonus? This stuff can be fun!
BE IN NATURE
It's springtime after all -- so get outside! Use the season's milder temperatures, greener pastures and lighter days to alleviate some of your mental burden. This can mean anything from walking home from work instead of cramming into the stressful subway, eating lunch outside versus at your desk, opting for a morning run in lieu of a stuffy gym or simply stepping outdoors and breathing. If you live in an urban area, seek out locales with greenery, as research shows that spending time in natural, foliage-filled areas can have immediate positive impacts on our brains, particularly when it comes to city-dwellers. Park date, anyone?