Go on a gratitude walk, suggests Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. Take a short stroll and think about the things, large and small, for which you are grateful. Youll immediately feel more full and more powerful, and your happiness level will go up!
Give Your Mind a Spring Cleaning
You've tackled the attic, now get rid of those mental cobwebs
After a long winter, its not only your home that needs a scrubbing. Your mind also is begging for some serious tidying. For so many of us our spring cleaning just focuses on cleaning the outside, says Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D., a life coach in Doylestown, Penn. But if you start with cleaning up your mind, the rest will follow. Youre going to get much more focused, confident and energetic. Ready? Put down the mop and learn how to make your mind sparkle.
Clean Your ClosetThink of the useless items that crowd your closet: jeans that are out of style; shoes you never wear because they pinch your toes; the sweatshirt with the holes in the elbows that youve been hanging on to since high school. Our minds, too, are often crammed with things that we dont need, but cant seem to get rid of. Regrets, lingering anger and old grudges take up precious space in our brains. They also affect our physical well-being. Studies show that holding on to anger or grudges for long periods of time actually can sap our energy. Regret is not productive, nor is anger or guilt or worry, says Zoglio, author of Create a Life That Tickles Your Soul. When you clean out some of those, it frees you up for productive thought.
So how to make a clean sweep? Try forgiveness, suggests Bob Enright, Ph.D., vice president of the International Forgiveness Institute in Madison, Wis. To forgive someone who has wronged you, start by seeing the wider picture, Enright suggests. The idea is to soften your heart in a merciful way toward the other person, says Enright. We remember the hurt, but we define the person as much bigger than that one hurt against us.
Consolidate ClutterHow many times have you said, Ill make a mental note of it? Trouble is, our brains dont have enough space to accommodate all those mental Post-its reminding us about errands to run, people to call, ideas for projects. Inevitably, some tasks get forgotten.
Wipe out clutter by dumping your mental scribblings into a journal. The act of writing something down frees up brain space, says Rita D. Jacobs, author of The Way In: Journal Writing for Self-Discovery. If you dont physically write it, youre not clearing your brain. Youre not refreshing it, she says. Besides list-making, your journal can be a place for your opinions, dreams and sketches. A journal buys you time, says Jacobs. It allows you not to obsess, but to write down and save for later, giving you more room and breathing space.
Sort Through Your To-DosAfter youve transferred your mental clutter into a journal, you can sort through it. Take a hard look at your to-do lists. Whats really necessary? Our psychic RAM is overloaded with things to do, says Zoglio. Spend your time on the priorities that are most important to you. Determine which tasks have the highest return on your time investment. Ask yourself: Should this really be on my plate? Perhaps youve taken on work that isnt your responsibility or offered to help a friend paint her dining room when you really dont have the time.
Maybe you have to call somebody and say, That looked like a good idea at the time, but I cant work it in now, Zoglio advises. Cant back out of your commitments? Try scaling them down. If you planned to go to dinner with a friend but cant squeeze in a meal, suggest meeting for coffee instead.
Feed Your MindWake your mind from its winter slumber with a dose of vitamins. Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of Mind Boosters, recommends ginkgo biloba, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Ginkgo helps improve circulation in small blood vessels, and by improving circulation, it improves mental function, he says. It actually provides for more concentration and focus and leads to alertness.
Also recommended: B vitamins such as folate, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. These vitamins assist the body in releasing energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. B vitamins give you more mental energy, explains Dr. Sahelian. (Caution: Consult your doctor before taking supplements and do not exceed the recommended dosage.)
Looking for brain food? Try fish such as salmon, mackerel or albacore tuna. These fatty fish are high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. A recent study in the Archives of Neurology reported that people with the highest levels of DHA two to three servings of fish weekly should do the trick had a 47 percent lower risk of developing dementia and a 39 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimers.
Plant Seeds for the FutureWhen your mind is freshly scrubbed and nourished, you have the space and energy to devote to new endeavors. Where to begin? Zoglio recommends waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual to do a morning intent meditation. Try sitting quietly and breathing deeply: Inhale for eight seconds, exhale for eight seconds. Tune out mental chatter by repeating one word that resonates for you (calm, love, peace).
Then, gaze into the future. Where do you see yourself traveling this summer? What home improvements would you like to make in the next few months? What kind of personal changes would benefit you? Now is the time to fill your mind with positive thoughts. After all, says Zoglio, the idea behind spring cleaning of the mind is to get rid of what you dont want and make room for what you do want.