Spring is with us and as the sun begins to shine it can show up a lot of dross. It is time for a good spring-clean. A client recently described coaching as de-cluttering his mind and it set me thinking how much easier focus, clarity and freedom of mind can be when the mind is cleared of the mental chatter and clutter clogging up the creative thought process and creating anxiety.

You may not realise just how many un-useful thoughts you are handling and trying to process subliminally and the energy this takes, until you stop for a break. There you are looking forward to some rest and relaxation, lying on your sunbed in the garden or running in the park and the body would be grateful if only your mind would give it a rest. And it won’t, or doesn’t know how to. It needs you - the central control centre of you - to switch channels or switch off, and empty out the worries and irritating circular thoughts that achieve nothing for you but just keep running on automatic, not letting you rest. I refer to true rest which is found, not only in stillness and being-mode but also in those dynamic activities which renew, refresh and inspire us to return to our goals and responsibilities with renewed strength and vitality.

What I call “the thinking brain” considers it is doing its job as long as it is active and will continue to produce thoughts for you to pursue, however tedious, worrying and repetitive they are. Wouldn’t it be good to reassure that part of your mind that you will be back to everyday thinking soon and then let the thoughts go by for a change? Unless you find a way to do that, you will not reap the benefits and rewards of true relaxation which are immense in terms of personal health, well-being, better relationships and workplace effective-ness.

The trouble is the adrenaline buzz created by racing along in mind and body is seductive. It is easy to think that it is a good thing and if we just keep going we will get past any stuck thoughts and blocks holding us up.

Adrenaline feels so much better than anxiety and fear that we feel it must be a good thing but this is faulty thinking. Adrenaline is certainly good for short-term leaps into action but very poor long-term fuel. Adrenaline is a drug, albeit a chemical you are producing yourself in your body, and therefore you can suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop producing it. You can feel initially exhausted as the true state of your health reveals itself. Also fear can set in that if you do not keep going, faster and faster, you will lose your edge or forget how to accomplish your goals. It can be difficult to accept that in fact a refreshed mind works so much more creatively and competently than a mind that is taxed and tired. So what to do?

De-cluttering the mind tips:

• Decide to experiment with slowing your mind down however scary it feels. Give yourself a time limit for this. In this way you reassure a part of your mind that you will not become a vegetable and will resume everyday thinking at a certain time or day. You have to be strategic with the psyche and negotiate otherwise the thinking brain will fear redundancy!

• Worry a lot – but again within strict time limits. This is a cognitive psychology method which can work well. Decide to take time to do nothing but worry – this can be 5 – 15 minutes a day, but I suggest you take no longer than 20 minutes for this. Then Stop! Tell yourself that you have done all the worrying you are going to do for today. In this way you are taming your mind, much as you would a wayward pet causing havoc in your home. Your brain is a wonderful tool but like technology, is there to serve you, not to rule you, and much too powerful to leave un-tamed.

• Find a picture, a metaphor which appeals to you for letting your thoughts go by. Images of thoughts as leaves in the wind or on a river; clouds changing as they pass by in the sky representing the essence of the deeper, more essential mind, work for me because I relate to wild life and nature so strongly, but you may imagine traffic passing by as you stand on a bridge over a motorway or whatever works for you.

• Then smell the roses. Watch the real leaves and clouds moving on the breeze....focus on the sensations in your body you normally do not take time to notice – variations from place to place of warmth and coolness; heaviness or lightness; tensions - but be gently aware of them and do not struggle with them, just keep your awareness moving through your sensations. Pulses and rhythms, the dance of the blood in your veins. There will be areas in the body that feel good, we often do not notice them. In other words experience Now.

I would love to hear of your experiences and metaphors for de-cluttering the mind which may help many other people. Also any questions on anxiety you would like me to address in my next article.

Author's Bio: 

Avril Allen is a coaching psychologist specialising in helping professionals overcome anxiety.