Constantly feeling overwhelmed and stressed out to point that you can’t sleep at night?
Did your to-do list just hit triple digits in length?
Is your brain so full of thoughts that it feels like it might explode?
Like a travel bag, sometimes you just need to dump everything out, reorganize it, and start anew.
We asked Jim Marshall, a life coach in LA, what his thoughts were. “In today’s world, we’ve become so inundated with media, social media, information, and messages,” he said, “that sometimes it feels like we’re drowning in all of it.”
“When out of balance, our minds and our bodies are at risk. Unfortunately, when we are constantly thinking about what’s happening in the past or can’t stop worrying about the future, we tend to overlook the present moment,” Marshall stressed.
“It’s all about finding balance.”
Here’s a list of things he recommends doing to clear your mind and live a happier, healthier life.
1. Write it all down
“Get a notebook and write down everything that’s on your mind—and I mean everything,” Marshall said. “Every worry, every problem, every task, big or small. Just get it all out of your head and onto paper (or screen). Once it’s all down on paper, you can start to see what’s really important and what can be let go.”
“Plus, it feels really good to get all of those thoughts out of your head,” he added.
“If something is really stressing you out and you can’t seem to let it go, ask yourself: ‘What can I do about it right now?’ If there’s nothing you can do, then let it go and move on.”
Organize your thoughts into categories
After you’ve written everything down, it’s time to start categorizing your thoughts.
“I like to categorize my thoughts into three categories: things I can control, things I can’t control, and things I need to let go,” Marshall said.
“For the things I can control, I make a plan of action. For the things I can’t control, I try to find a way to be at peace with them. And for the things I need to let go, I remind myself that worrying about them isn’t going to change anything.”
2. Get Mindful
Mindfulness is the latest buzzword in the world of psychology and mental health, and for good reason.
“It’s a form of meditation that allows you to focus on the present moment and be aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment,” explained Marshall.
“The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings so that you can manage them in a more effective way.”
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, but one of the easiest is to simply focus on your breath.
“Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes,” said Marshall. “Then, focus on your breath and count each inhale and exhale.
“You can also try to notice the physical sensations of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your focus back to your breath.”
Start with just a few minutes each day and work your way up to longer periods of time.
3. Rework your to do list
“Your daily to-do list should have no more than 3-4 items on it. One major to-do item and 2-3 smaller tasks,” Marshall advised.
“If you have more than that, it’s likely that you’re not being realistic about what you can actually accomplish in a day. And that’s when the overwhelming thoughts set in.”
“Be mindful of what’s truly important and focus on completing those items. The rest can wait.”
“Also, don’t forget to schedule in some ‘me time.’ Whether it’s reading, going for a walk, or taking a yoga class, it’s important to nurture yourself. When you make time for activities that bring you joy, it’s a lot easier to stay focused and motivated.”
4. Get Physical
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. It gets your heart pumping and releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
Aerobic exercises, such as running, biking, or swimming, are particularly good at reducing stress because they help you release pent-up energy.
For some people, even just a brisk walk can be enough to improve their mood and reduce stress levels.
For other, lifting heavy weights at the gym may be a better way to let off steam.
But it’s important to find an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle.
“The key is to make sure it’s something you can stick with,” Marshall said.
“If you hate running, don’t make yourself do it every day just because you think it’s good for you. You’re much more likely to stick with an exercise routine if you enjoy it.”
5. Connect with Nature
There’s something calming and refreshing about being in nature.
“I often tell my clients to go for a walk in the park, sit by the ocean, or hike in the mountains. Just getting out of the city and into nature can help you to clear your mind and feel more at peace,” Marshall said.
“Another great way to connect with nature is to garden. There is something very therapeutic about getting your hands dirty and planting seeds.”
He recommends getting outside for at least 20 minutes a day, even if it’s just to sit in your backyard or balcony.
“Make a point to connect with nature every day, and you’ll start to feel more grounded and centered.”
6. Drink more water
Water is the foundation of life.
It’s essential for our survival and should be our go-to beverage throughout the day.
“Many people don’t realize that they’re actually dehydrated and that’s why they feel tired all the time,” said Marshall.
“One of the best things you can do for your body and your mind is to drink plenty of water. Not only will it improve your energy levels, but it will also help to flush out toxins.”
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break, have a glass of water, and refocus your thoughts.
7. Detach from your devices
Although it might seem impossible to disconnect from your electronic devices, it’s important to try.
“I’m not saying you should live in a cave and never use technology, but there is a big difference between using it and being used by it,” Marshall said.
“When you’re always plugged in, you’re giving away your power. You’re letting others dictate how you should feel and what you should think.”
“Disconnecting allows you to regain control. It allows you to focus on your own thoughts and feelings and to be present in the moment.”
“It might be hard at first, but it gets easier with practice. And the payoff is worth it.”
8. Be grateful
Start a daily gratefulness journal. Each day just write “I’m grateful for…” and then list three things.
“It’s important to get into the habit of thinking about the positive things in life,” Marshall said. “Focusing on the good stuff allows us to see the glass half full instead of half empty.”
“It’s a simple way to train your brain to focus on the positive, and when your brain is trained to do that, it will do it more automatically.”
He also recommends expressing gratitude to people who have made a positive impact in your life.
“Saying thank you is always a good idea,” he said, “but sometimes we forget to do it.”
“When we take the time to show our appreciation for someone, it not only makes them feel good, but it also makes us feel good. It’s a win-win.”
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or just plain old down in the dumps, remember to start with the basics: be grateful, focus on the positive, and show your appreciation to others.
You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes.
9. Stop watching the news
Studies have shown that watching the news regularly can increase anxiety and stress levels. In fact, a study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that people who watched the news frequently were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
“The news is designed to be attention-grabbing and it’s full of negativity,” Marshall said. “It’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world, but you don’t need to consume it 24/7.”
He recommends reading the news and cutting out all TV news channels.
10. Stop social media
If you can’t go a day or two without checking your social media accounts, it’s time to take a break.
“I’m not saying get rid of social media all together. But, set some boundaries,” said Marshall.
“Check your accounts two to three times a week instead of every day. Delete the apps off your phone. Give yourself some time and space to live your life without constantly documenting it or needing validation from others.”
And if you find that you’re still struggling to cut back, ask yourself why.
“Are you using social media as a way to procrastinate or avoid something else in your life?” Marshall said.
“Are you afraid of missing out on something? If you are, ask yourself, ‘Is it really worth it?'”
He also suggests trying a social media detox, where you take a break from all platforms for 30 days.
11. Wake up earlier
“I know it’s cliche, but the early bird really does get the worm,” Marshall said.
“Starting your day off with some quiet time, whether it’s reading, meditating, writing in a journal, or taking a walk, can help center you and set the tone for the day.”
He recommends getting up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally would to have this time to yourself.
“It may be hard at first, but I promise it’s worth it.”