Have you ever wished you could clear your mind? Perhaps you have been lying in bed with your mind racing and wished there was a switch to turn off your thoughts?
Or maybe you find that your meditation sessions are dominated by the same thoughts running over and over in your mind. Or do you long to clear your mind when you come to tackle a big work project and feel distracted and unable to focus?
Many of us struggle with the same feelings and don’t know how to manage our racing minds.
We might instinctively know that we need calm and peace to clear our minds. And yet the irony is that racing thoughts can be what stops us from getting that rest we need. We end up in a cycle that feels impossible to break.
In the face of this, we need practical solutions to clear our minds for sleep, meditation and work – and anything else you might have going on!
Why clear your mind?
So why try to clear your mind? Let’s first think about what happens when you don’t clear your mind!
Perhaps you recognise this feeling. Something triggers you to feel stressed and suddenly you find that your thoughts are running like a spiral in your mind. The same thoughts, or versions of them, pop up over and over again making you feel anxious and trapped.
Scientists call this rumination and it is especially damaging when we dwell on negative thoughts. Rumination can prevent us from getting good rest, de-stressing and finding our way through our challenges.
Rumination can also prevent us from reaching the solutions to our problems. And so in stressful times, when we might be drawn into rumination, having the tools to clear and calm the mind is so important.
As well as getting past rumination, there are also some important scientific benefits to clearing your mind.
- Better sleep
- Decreased stress hormones that can negatively affect your mind and body
- Increased creativity
- Better problem-solving skills
Developing skills for clearing your mind is essential for your well-being and mental health.
So here’s how to start to tackle it.
How to clear your mind
By now you have probably identified the times when your most need to clear your mind.
Perhaps you are struggling with racing thoughts when you are trying to drift off to sleep. Or maybe you notice them most at work as they distract you from your task.
Or perhaps your time on the meditation mat is dominated by thoughts of what you are doing later or should have done before you got there.
Or, and you’re not alone here, perhaps you need a bit of help with all three!
Here are some practical suggestions for clearing your mind when you feel you need it most.
How to clear your mind for sleep
At the end of the day, our mind and body need to receive signals from us that the day is over and it is time for rest.
A racing mind can be so frustrating when all we want to do is sleep and it can stop us from getting the rest that we need.
If you find that your mind is busy right before bed, then here are some tips to clear your mind for sleep.
Pick up a book
A study from the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes before bed can reduce stress by 68%. Reading is a great tool for clearing your mind for sleep.
The best books to pick up at bedtime are books that whisk you away to another place in your mind. The best books for clearing your mind will be those that distract you from the thoughts you might otherwise dwell on.
Try an interesting fiction book set in a far-flung location that has very little to do with your day-to-day life. Choose something that will get your imagination going and leave the business books for another time.
Write it down
Give those racing thoughts somewhere to go by writing them down.
Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside to jot down thoughts, to-do list items, ideas or even worries. Having a place for these thoughts to go can get them out of your mind and prevent rumination.
By writing things down you no longer need to remember them and so break that cycle of thought. You can then place your notebook aside and know you will come back to it in the morning.
You might also consider journaling before bed as a way to process the events of the day. A regular journaling practice can be a great way to clear your mind and make sense of your thoughts. It helps us with processing our experiences and emotions.
Getting all your thoughts out on paper can signal to your mind that they are dealt with and so clear your mind ready for sleep.
Focus on your breathing
A great way to clear your mind is to focus on your breathing. Our breath is always with us so it is the perfect tool for calming our mind any time we need it.
Breathing deeply puts our parasympathetic nerve system (which calms our whole body down) into action. This is why focusing on the breath is so important in meditation practice.
Focusing on the breath is a great way of encouraging the mind and body to slow down and gently unwind. Especially when you are lying in bed at the end of the day.
There are lots of ways you try focusing on your breathing. Try, for example, ‘box breathing’. Breathe in deeply for the count of 4, hold your breath for 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4. Repeat this cycle until you begin to feel your body relax and your thoughts slow.
You could also try counting your breaths and seeing if you can reach one hundred. I often find that I am asleep before I can get there!
How to clear your mind for meditation
Mediation is a powerful tool for clearing the mind. But to get the best of your meditation session you might like to spend some time clearing your mind before you begin.
There is nothing worse than being midway through a meditation session with a to-do list item spinning endlessly through your mind!
Do a mind declutter
A mind declutter is a great technique for getting those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Decluttering my mind is one of my go-to strategies when I am feeling stressed or am overthinking.
To help you clear your mind I have put together the mind declutter routine that you can download for free:
The mind declutter guides you through clearing the mind by becoming aware of what is going on in your mind and body. It gently slows the mind and brings you back into the present moment.
A mind declutter is great pre-meditation support or five-minute pick me up when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Find a distraction-free space
Support your intention to find a moment of calm during your meditation practice by setting up a distraction-free space.
Try and find a time when you are unlikely to be distracted by others. Perhaps meditating first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Or try going out on a walk and finding a quiet place outdoors. Knowing you have a little bit of your time to yourself can help clear your mind for meditation.
If you can, then moving away from your workspace can help clear the mind of thoughts. A different view, away from reminders of everything you have left to do, can help the mind unwind and relax.
You could even consider setting up your own meditation space.
Write it down first
You might also find that your notebook and pen come in handy here again!
Take a moment to jot down the thoughts that are loudest in your mind before you begin your meditation.
Journaling your thoughts can get your thoughts out of your mind. But it also signals to your brain that these thoughts are bring processed so you don’t need to keep being reminded of them!
If you are new to journaling, then check out my guide to getting started journaling.
You could also make a list of what you have left to do that day so that your focus can be entirely on your meditation and not your to-do list.
How to clear your mind for work
Distractions at work can make a big difference to our productivity. When we are working on a project that requires us to be creative or to problem solve then we need a clear mind to be at our best.
If you find yourself distracted when you want to be focused at work then try these tips to clear your mind for work.
Do a brain dump
When you are about to do a big project that needs your attention, try a brain dump. Imagine a brain dump like opening up your handbag and pouring the contents onto the floor! Everything comes out and you can see exactly what is going on in there!
Brain dumps work by taking what is abstract and circling around your mind and making it solid. As I’ve mentioned, it also signals to your mind that a task is in hand so you don’t need to be reminded about it.
To do a brain dump simply grab a pen and paper and start writing. Bullet points work well. Your bullet points could be anything from things you need to do to problems you are worried about or people who are on your mind.
Keep going until you feel a sense of release and no new thoughts come to mind. The process of doing a brain dump can make you feel instantly better.
You can also use the list as a tool for resolving some of those worries. Come back to the list later and see if you can knock any of those actions off your list or process them further through journaling.
Change your surroundings
If you’re midway through your workday and need to clear your mind then try a change of scene.
Sometimes our reaction to a tired or overrun mind can be to numb it with things like social media. But this doesn’t give our mind the break it needs.
Instead, get up from your desk and have a change of surroundings. We are part of our environment and what we see around us has a big impact on our minds.
Try having a walk, even just for ten minutes, to revive your tired mind and clear your thoughts. Or perhaps try working in a different location if this is possible for you.
A change of scenery can change our approach to our task and make us much more productive. Give it a try the next time you need to clear your mind for work.
Clear your mind for your mental health
We all have a racing mind from time to time but with the right tools, we can keep our thoughts in check.
Having a clear mind begins with noticing when we are stressed and when our mind begins to race. By having techniques available to you to clear your mind you can take fast and effective action to get back on track.
Doing so will have a huge impact on your mental health as well as making you more productive.
Life can throw all sorts of stressful moments but knowing how to clear your mind can keep you calm and in control.