Just like a cluttered home can be stress-inducing, so can a cluttered mind. How much mental space do you have available? Is your mind jumbled and constantly “on” or do you have room to just be?
No matter how overwhelmed or cluttered your mind might feel right now, you can give yourself the gift of mental space by taking a couple of steps. Want to learn how? Below are the tips on how to create more mental space that will enhance your wellbeing.
But first, let's discuss what mental space is and why it's so important!
What is mental space?
Mental space is most easily defined as what it’s not – it’s not your to-do list, stresses, worries, or fears. Those things get in the way of your focus and clutter your mind.
Mental space, on the other hand, is the absence of all of those things. Having mental space means you have a sense of calm and the capacity to focus on and do what you choose.
It’s the absence of overwhelm. It’s being unburdened by an endless to-do list in your mind. Sounds pretty good, right?
Why is mental space so important to your wellbeing?
It should come as no surprise that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Sometimes it’s easier for us to focus on the physical aspects of our health and forget about the mental ones. But your mental health is not something to ignore.
Mental space is one piece of your well-being that is especially key to living your best life. Here are a couple of reasons why mental space is so vital to your wellbeing:
Reduces your stress
Stress affects your mind and your whole body. It’s your body’s response to challenges and demands. And when you have too many challenges and demands, or too much going on in your mind, your stress levels can go through the roof.
By clearing up mental space and giving yourself some room to think and breathe, you can help reduce your stress levels.
Increases your ability to focus
If you don’t have a lot of mental space, you might describe your mind as being cloudy or foggy. It’s like something is blocking you from focusing on what you want to do.
On the other hand, when you do have mental space, you can be laser-focused on what you want to get done.
Mental space boosts your productivity
Frees up the time and space to do what you love
Lastly, with all of that focus and increased productivity that comes with having mental space, you get things done. Which leaves plenty of time for whatever else you want to do.
Maybe that’s time to step back and just breathe, go for a walk, or sit with your thoughts for a bit.
Whatever it is, you get to choose what to do because your mind is not preoccupied with endless to-dos and tasks when you have mental space.
So, let's dive into our list of easy ways to create more mental space!
10 Easy ways to create more mental space
Creating more mental space is a process. Some of these tips will give you instant results, but some take more time and practice.
But, no matter what, if you stick to it, soon enough you’ll have created a calmer mind and opened up the mental space you need to live a more stress-free, productive, and focused life.
1. Start a meditation practice
Want to create mental space to improve your mental and physical health? There’s no better way to do that than by starting a meditation practice. When you meditate, you learn how to focus your mind and stay present in the moment.
The benefits reach way beyond just the time you devote to your meditation practice. Over time, you’ll clear out your mind, and the mental space you’ll create will calm you and open up so many possibilities.
2. Learn a go-to breathing practice
During particularly stressful moments, it might feel like there’s no way to clear your mind. Most people can’t just meditate on the spot and create mental space at the drop of a hat.
Luckily, there are other techniques you can practice in the moment to help clear your mind and create that space.
One way to do that is with a simple breathing technique called paced breathing. You inhale for 2-4 seconds and exhale for 4-6 seconds, focusing on your breathing instead of where your mind is prone to wander.
This is a great way to pull yourself back into the moment and relax your mind and body.
3. Make sure you have some whitespace on your calendar
Is your calendar jam-packed with work calls, meetings, activities, obligations, and events? Even if you love to do everything you do (which, let’s face it, is unlikely), life can become overwhelming.
When your calendar is so full that you don’t have any time for yourself, that’s a red flag that you don’t have any mental space, either. One way to fix this is to clear up your calendar.
Make sure you have some time every day, whether you start with a fifteen-minute block, or you have two or three hours free, that is just for you.
4. Declare your morning and/or evening a no-tech time
It doesn’t matter what time of day you choose, but declare some portion of your day to be “tech-free.” The morning is a great time to stay off of social media, refrain from reading the news, and resist checking your email.
Instead of jumping right into what other people have to say or what others want from you, spend your time doing something for yourself.
It doesn’t even have to be that long of a time! Just take a few minutes to savor your morning coffee, make a healthy breakfast, go for a run, or journal. However and whenever you choose to spend your tech-free time is up to you.
Just make sure you squeeze in some time to disconnect and give yourself the mental space you deserve.
Remember how great you felt after recess in grade school? Coming back to class after running around on the playground or in the gym was the perfect reset. Unfortunately, most adults think they don’t have time to play or to take a recess of their own.
But, doing something purely for fun is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our well-being. Play is a way to unwind and clear your mind from distractions and stress.
It’s a way to refresh, reset, and create the mental space so that when playtime is over, you are ready to get back to whatever task is at hand.
6. Declutter your space
Clearing your space actually works to declutter your mind, too! It can help reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep, and give you back a sense of control in what can feel like an out-of-control world.
Start small when decluttering your physical space and keep on going from there. As you see the benefits creating physical space has on your mental space, you’ll be sure to keep on going until your entire home (and mind) is clutter-free.
7. Have someone to talk things out with
We have so many thoughts racing around in our minds, cluttering them up, and blocking our mental space. It can be beneficial to have someone to whom you can release some of those thoughts.
Having a sounding board will allow you to get out your ideas and frustrations and clear some mental space.
8. Stop the information overload
The amount of information we’re faced with every day is truly astonishing. In just the last decade or so, our access to information has skyrocketed. This has its benefits, but your well-being is not usually among those. A constant influx of information can clog your brain.
If you feel overwhelmed with too much information, limit the amount of information you allow in. Set a time limit for how long you’ll spend online, reading the news, watching Netflix, etc.
Decide what you want to take in and leave out the rest. After a while, what will be left in the place of all of that information overload will be mental space.
9. Journal for more mental space
Whether you use an old-fashioned notebook, your computer, or an app on your phone, getting your thoughts out of your brain is one of the best ways to clear your head and create mental space.
Among the many benefits of journaling for your wellbeing include less stress, management of anxiety, and a greater ability to cope with uncomfortable feelings.
10. Stop multi-tasking
Have you heard the news about multi-tasking? It turns out, it doesn’t work! While we might think we can do two things at once, it’s simply not true. What does multi-tasking do? It divides your attention and makes it take longer to get things done.
Multi-tasking also jumbles up your mind. It interferes with your mental space by adding competing things to do and think about.
Instead of multi-tasking, try focusing on one task at once and then making a clean break from it before moving on to the next one. Your newly cleared-out mind will thank you.
Create the mental space you need starting today!
Taking care of your mental health is not something to do only if you have extra time. It’s necessary to tend to if you want to live a vibrant and thriving life. Take one (or more) of these steps today to clear your mind and create the mental space you deserve.