Does your mind need a spring clean?

Jul 23, 2019

Now that winter has finally loosened its grip, it's time for many people to give their homes a top-to-bottom spring clean. And as anyone who has ever had a major clear-out at home knows, it can give you a huge sense of satisfaction. But what about spring cleaning your mind?

One good reason to do just that is to improve your memory. According to researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, as you get older you have so much more information to remember. So having the odd memory lapse may have nothing to do with the first signs of dementia, it could be that your mind is simply bursting at the seams.

The researchers carried out tests with adults of all ages, and discovered the older volunteers had less working memory than the younger ones. But reducing 'clutter' in the mind by practising relaxation exercises could help, they concluded. Other experts believe that holding on to negative thoughts from past experiences can cause unnecessary stress. But how exactly do you declutter – or detox – your mind? Here are a few ideas...

Learn how to meditate

This doesn't have to mean sitting cross-legged on the floor and burning incense. Meditation can just mean closing your eyes for a minute or two and relaxing. Make yourself comfortable (sit, stand or lie down, if you feel like it), close your eyes and listen to the sound of your breathing. Don't worry if your mind starts to wander off – if it does, just keep breathing slowly and deeply, and bring your attention back to your breath.

Get some fresh air

Now that the weather is improving, there's no better way to revitalise your body and your mind by taking a walk outdoors, especially if you can walk in a natural setting. Go for a hike in the country, walk along the beach, or visit a local park or green space.

Keep a notebook

Write down all the thoughts that are swirling around your head – such as details you need to remember or things that are worrying you. Your mind may find it easier to let go of worries if they have been written down. And the things you really do need to remember – such as when bills need to be paid and other important dates – will be there in your notebook when you need them.

Turn off your phone

Spend an hour each day clearing your mind. Switch off your phone and other gadgets that distract you, such as the TV, radio and computers. Try not to fill your head with more information that isn't essential, and you'll feel better for it.

Get rid of negativity

Try to release all those thoughts in your mind that lead to blaming and complaining, and remember you can choose to be more positive if you want to. You'll be surprised at how much more free your mind will feel if you do.

Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.