Free Your Mind (Top Sante, Apr 2018)
Would you like to spring clean your thoughts but not sure how? We’ve got a creative way to help you to do it!
This season of growth and regeneration is the perfect time to give your mind some time to breathe. The long-awaited brighter days and fresh shoots and buds can certainly inspire some fresh starts – both inside and out.
Just like cupboards stuffed with plastic bags, old fitness gear and unfiled documents, your own internal clutter may also be building up. The pressures of everyday life – often involving rushing between chores, hobbies and work, plus plenty of tech and information to process – can make you feel mentally congested.
‘A cluttered mind can keep you from experiencing your life in real time, in this moment, right now,’ says Dr Habib Sadeghi, author of The Clarity Cleanse (£10.35, beingclarity.com). ‘As such, you can miss the opportunity of enjoying what really matters because you’re too busy sweating the small stuff.’
All this can leave you feeling that you’re stuck in a rut and unable to think clearly. It can also have an impact on your physical health. ‘Stress generated from a lack of mental clarity creates thousands of chemical and biological changes in our bodies that, over time, can set you up for sickness,’ says Dr Sadeghi. Luckily, neuroplasticity – essentially the brain’s ability to continually rewire itself – means that with a few key tactics, mental reorganising is easy.
‘The more you exercise mental decluttering and simplify your routines and habits, the easier it will be to maintain a sense of calm and order,’ says Ambi Mistry, a social psychologist and life coach. ‘Although neuroplasticity declines later in life, it never ceases to exist – which is very empowering. One of the best tools you can use to get your thoughts in order is a tool called a mind map. It consists of diagrams, which all start with one central idea and ow out onto different branches, depicting the radial and non-linear ow of our thoughts.‘
THE POWER OF COLOUR
Mind maps are a great catalyst for mental and emotional decluttering. For example, you might start with a central concept, such as ‘my career’, and move onto various different branches like ‘salary’, ‘ exibility’, and ‘development’. Soon, you’ll open up new possibilities and create ideas you’d never have come up with in a traditional list. So the process of making a mind map should help you understand what you want, and the steps you need to take to get there, in an inspiring and uplifting way.
‘The key is to use multiple colours and pictures in the maps, because the primary language of the brain is visual,’ says Tony Buzan, author of Mind Map Mastery (£14.99, Watkins Publishing). ‘Black words on white paper is monochrome, monotone and therefore monotonous,’ says Tony. ‘Your brain sees it as more sludge and no colours, no energies – nothing to do with the way your brain primarily thinks and learns and imagines and creates.’
He believes that, because they are so much more inspiring, bright and creative than a traditional list or wodge of text, mind maps help you make clear-headed decisions, set intentions, and understand what your priorities are. Even if you’re not using it to achieve a particular goal, mind mapping and its doodles and artistry are great ways to spark your imagination.
‘Daydreaming is one of the keys to clearing your mind – most people nowadays are not using their imaginations enough,’ says Tony. Regular daydreaming in a suitable context – for example, on the bus, but not in the middle of a work meeting – has been shown to improve your ability to focus when it’s needed, according to a study at the University of North Carolina.
MAPPING INTO THE FUTURE
As an easy way to retain information, you might find a mind map works better than a diary or calendar. You could draw a map of your week, with a branch for each day. It is thought to be more effective as a way to remember your appointments as mind maps can improve your long-term retention of factual information by 10 per cent, according to a study in Medical Education. They can also help guide you into a healthier, more fulfilling future.
‘I made a mind map about my physical health,’ explains Tony. ‘I wanted to actually become healthier, and putting this into a mind map motivates your brain to act. You’re creating flowers in your brain to grow and develop, which makes it feels activated, present and happy.’
So, if you’re planning a spring clean, keep hold of those coloured pens, pencils and old note books… it’s time to get creative, and create clarity.