What is Mental Clutter?

Mental clutter is any thought keeping you from the present moment. 

You could be lost in negative thoughts about the past, caught up comparing yourself to others on social media, thinking about something you need to do, or worrying about the future. 

Basically, mental clutter includes all of the thoughts that pull you away from where you are and what you are doing.

What causes Mental Clutter?

  • A cluttered space
  • Daily stress from work or family 
  • Limitless choices
  • Digital distractions
  • Sad memories
  • Over commitment
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Silhouette showing mental clutter

What can you do to clear Mental Clutter?

I like to look at mental clutter in a similar way I look at physical clutter.

Before tackling any decluttering project, I like to think about what the purpose of the space should be. The purpose that I think my mind should have right now is to help me be present, help me stay happy, and help me learn and grow as an individual. 

Take a minute to think about the purpose of your mind. 

Next, consider the things that occupy your thoughts that don’t align with your purpose. Since you can’t donate, giveaway, or throw away your mental clutter, you’ll need to adjust and instead find ways to manage these thoughts differently.

Pay attention to the thoughts that are clutter and dismiss them, change your habits, or work on yourself.

Dismiss insignificant thoughts

For the thoughts that are outside of my control and really shouldn’t impact me, I just dismiss them. 

For example, if another car cuts in front of me while I’m driving, I don’t entertain any thoughts about it. 10 years ago I probably would have gotten quite upset and most likely shouted a few choice words. When I first started practicing dismissing these thoughts, I would simply notice my anger rising and then say to myself, “This shouldn’t upset me. I have no control over this.” After a while, when something like this would happen again, I didn’t even need to say anything to myself, it didn’t even phase me.

Change your habits

For the cluttered thoughts that are in my control and distract me from what is important, I make adjustments to my habits. 

For example, I used to scroll through social media frequently. Then in 2015, after I became a parent, I caught myself scrolling a few times when I should have been enjoying my daughter. I decided then and there to change my habits. First, I deleted the app off of my phone, and then shortly after I deleted the app off of my iPad. The only way I could access Facebook was on my computer which I kept in my basement and only really used when I was paying my bills. For a while I continued to check it every other week on payday, but I became less interested and it became a chore more than anything else, so I deleted my account. 

Work on yourself

The thoughts that are the trickiest are the ones normally outside your control and weigh heavy on your mind. These are the thoughts where you will need to find an outlet and spend extra time working on yourself. 

  • Write in a journal to make sense of your thoughts
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Meditate
  • Practice yoga
  • Spend time outdoors

Do things that make you happy and focus on the positive. You may need to change routines, change who you associate with, and change your attitude. The only thing you can’t change is what happened to create the mental clutter in the first place. The sooner you accept that things are always going to be different, the sooner you can move on.

What other ways have you found to help you remove mental clutter?