Posted in compassion, life hacks, mental health, Mindfulness, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions, wellbeing, wellness

Practical ways to declutter your overloaded mind

Photo credit: Element5 Digital, Unsplash

There are a plethora of books and articles both online and in print about the benefits of decluttering your possessions in order to simplify your life and create more order. However, it’s not just our homes which can become cluttered and cause feelings of overwhelm and low mood. Our minds are equally susceptible and can easily become overloaded with worries, stresses and all of those emotions that come from spinning too many plates. Today’s blog post looks at practical ways of managing this mental clutter to improve our wellbeing.

1. Identify your current priorities in life

A good place to start decluttering your mind is to spend some time quietly reflecting on your life right now. Start to consider how you currently spend your time and use your energy and then begin to think about how satisfied you are with this situation. If you find yourself wanting to implement some changes, try focusing your attention on how you would like to live or what your ideal day would look like. This can help you establish what’s really important to you and enable you to prioritize. For example, you may decide that you are neglecting to look after yourself properly and need to give self care more of a focus or you might want to spend more quality time with your partner, your family or your friends.

2. Set some goals and instil some habits

When you know what your priorities are, you can work on setting some goals and creating some habits which help you to achieve these. For example, if having more ‘me time’ is at the top of your list, you may decide that you want to spend one hour per week learning a new skill or taking a class. If having more time together with your family is an area you’d like to work on, you might schedule a regular movie night, games evening or brainstorm or list of ways you would like to have fun together in your bullet journal or notebook. If you do use a bullet journal and like to have a habit tracker as part of your weekly or monthly spreads, your goals can inform the habits you choose to include. For example, if having a tidy space to study or work is one of your desires, you might choose to have a habit such as ‘ten minute desk tidy’ at the end of each day.

Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is the process of bringing one’s attention to the current moment and concentrating on the flow of our thoughts, emotions, what is going on around us and bodily sensations without judgement. It can help us to reduce the time we spend dwelling on past events (rumination) or becoming anxious about the future and help us to become more calm and compassionate towards ourselves. Becoming more mindful can help to declutter our minds of worries and anxieties by creating a more relaxed state of being.

Take time to breathe

A big part of mindfulness and self compassion is about taking time out. Our busy lives often create minds which are full of mental chatter which we find difficult to silence. We can all find time to settle our minds by taking the time to slow down and a great way to do this is by changing your focus to a more soothing activity such as rhythmic breathing or a mini meditation. If, like me, you have a bullet journal or planner, try scheduling time to have a break as part of your daily plans or add meditation to your habit tracker. By being more mindful and checking in with your body and how you are feeling, you can also more easily recognise when you might need to pause or slow down.

Getting it down on paper

Another really helpful way of clearing mental clutter is to write it all down. There are many different ideas for how to go about doing this but popular methods include doing a ‘brain dump’ or regularly engaging in reflective journaling. A brain dump is basically where you put everything that’s on your mind down on paper or into a digital document. How you spill the contents of your brain is up to you. Some people like to just scribble down their thoughts and feelings onto a page of their journal or onto any random piece of paper they have available whenever they have lots on their mind. Others prefer the regular practise of creating ‘morning pages‘ where they dedicate time each day to writing it all down as soon as they wake up. Personally, I like to add thoughts and ideas to my daily plans in my bullet journal and spend some time each evening, reflecting on how my day has gone and writing a few things down underneath my bulleted lists. If you want to find out more about the bullet journal method for organisation, I recommend visiting Ryder Carroll’s website here or reading his book which explains the method in detail.

For specific projects, you may find that creating some sort of visual way of organising helps to get your thoughts on paper in a logical way. A spider diagram, is a popular method and one which you may have used at school. Basically, you start by placing your main thought, idea or topic in the centre of the page and then you add branches from this when you think of subtopics. These subtopics can then be broken down further by more branches, creating a kind of spiders legs effect on the page. A quick ‘Google’ search online shows lots of examples of this technique which can be a helpful way of structuring all of the information in your mind.

Avoid information overload

This point is particularly relevant to our lives today in the digital age. With so much information at our finger tips online, especially through our use of various social media platforms, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed and feel like we are ready to explode. There are many ways to avoid overloading ourselves with information, including limiting the amount of time we spend online. Also, if you have already spent time assessing your current priorities, then you can use this to inform what you focus on. For example, at the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to improve my gardening know how, so I thought about the steps I would need to take to do this and then spent time and energy improving my knowledge through reading about the plants in our garden, finding seasonal gardening tips online and watching gardening programmes on the television. I then recorded my learning in a garden journal. Also, avoiding negative and unreliable media sources can help your online presence positive and informative. For example, I tend to stay away from sensationalised news articles and always try to turn off my notifications for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a while when I’m super busy.

Out of your mind and into your body

In a previous blog post, I talked about ways to stimulate your vagus nerve and included plenty of suggestions about how to use the power of this cranial nerve to stimulate your body and relax your mind. By moving our attention to our bodies and reconnecting to the world around us, we create much needed space in our minds which helps us to gain better mental clarity. Going out into the garden to feel the fresh air, listen to the birds or get some sunlight on our skin, taking a quiet stroll in the local park, or even just putting on a favourite song and singing out loud whilst having a quick boogie can all help.

Take some time to unwind

Your brain needs regular breaks to rest and recharge itself and so creating white space in your calendar or planner is a must. Spend some time away from your phone or tablet and do something relaxing which makes you feel happy. For me, a walk in nature, reading a book or doing something creative, such as painting or drawing are some of my favourite ways to unwind. I like to create pages in my bullet journal for self care and ‘me time’ activities so that when I’m feeling frazzled, I can get some inspiration for self soothing behaviours.

Photo credit: Victoria Bilsborough, Unsplash

I hope you have found today’s post useful and it has helped to provide inspiration on how you might take steps to declutter your busy and active mind. I would love to hear any others ideas that you find work really well for you at times when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

Posted in art, creativity, life hacks, Planning and journaling, stain removal, stationery, stationery supplies

Stationery mishaps – pen stain removal

A very small selection of my pens 🙂

Hi guys. Hope you’re all well. This may seem like a bit of a random post from me but the idea for it came to me yesterday after I had a bit of a stationery mishap. Basically, I attended my first class of beginner’s ceramics which I recently signed up for and after finishing the vast amount of paperwork required for the course funding, I accidentally drew a great big line of black ballpoint pen across the left boob area of my light mint green top! I let out a shriek of horror as I know that this kind of pen has a tendency to stain.

When I returned home, I got to work Googling stain removal solutions and I’m excited to report that the pen is now gone and my top is saved. So, I thought, why not do a blog post for the rest of you stationery addicts out there who may, in the future, need a little support with getting pen out of your best clothes.

Please note however, that these are ideas collected from the internet and that I can’t accept responsibility if they don’t work or if they cause further damage to your garments. My aim here is to share what’s worked for others in the hope that you might be able to rescue your much loved items in a similar way.

Ballpoint pen

Stains made with this popular and usually cheap pen can be very difficult to remove. That’s why it’s best to tackle the offending mark as soon as possible. Start by determining the pen type as not all of those which have a ball contain the same type of ink. Traditional ballpoints like Bic and Papermate Flexgrip, use a fast drying oil-based ink which needs to be removed using some kind of solvent. Water-based inks, such as a Pentel roller ball, are fairly easy to remove. Whereas, gel pens are highly pigmented and, again tend to be pretty hard to get out of clothes and furnishings.

The most fabric friendly way to remove oil based ink, is using an alcohol based product. You can often find many of these in your home such as aerosol hairspray, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser or wipes. I used a little bottle of Body Shop hand gel which I keep in my handbag. Place the garment over an absorbent material such as a clean cloth, a number of paper towels or white napkins. Thoroughly saturate the area with the pen stain, wait around 5 minutes (probably panic about your precious garment if you’re anything like me) and then use a clean, dry cloth to blot out the stain (I used more paper towels here as this was all I had available to me). Repeat with more solvent and further areas of cloth if necessary. Wash the area with detergent or if you can see the stain has completely gone already, you can just launder as normal.

For water-based pens, if you tackle the mark straightaway, you can simply use soap and warm water to get the stain out with a gentle rub. If, however, the stain has been on the item for longer, and has set. You can use an old toothbrush to add a little friction to rub the stain out. I think this one would be useful on more hardwearing fabrics such as denim jeans.

Gel ink, according to manufacturers, if almost impossible to remove, but the best way to have a go at getting it out, is using normal detergent, stain removing gel (e.g. Vanish) or liquid hand soap. Add a small amount and rub the stain directly, rinsing with running water. Then try to blot out the rest of the ink between two piles of paper towels, white napkins or several clean clothes.

Felt tips and markers

Like the ballpoint pens, it’s important to establish what kind of ink you’re working with. If they’re washable, then the stain should come out with a standard wash but more highly pigmented and marker pens might benefit from the same alcohol based treatment which can be used for ballpoints. If the pen states that it contains permanent ink, the stain will be very difficult to get out but, according to a leading detergent specialist, it’s not completely impossible.

The trick is to treat permanent marker stains with products that can break down the oils and alcohols in the ink, exposing the colourants, and allowing you to treat the discolouration in much the same way you would any other stain – through washing! Alcohol is a solvent and is very effective and efficient at breaking down oils and other alcohols found in marker pens.

Persil.com/uk (for further info and a step by step click here)

Highlighter pens

According to my perusal of the Internet, you can try one of three methods. The first two involve using alcohol such as hand sanitiser or hairspray and the third involves using cows milk. As I’m aspiring to be vegan one day, I’ve transitioned to plant based milk and so I have no idea if this works and don’t have such stuff in my fridge but I’ve seen a variety of sites which recommend it. Apparently, you dip the stain in a bowl of the stuff and rub gently with your fingers, then rinse with plain water. Repeat if you still see a stain and then wash as normal. If anyone knows why milk works and if plant based does the job too I would love to hear from you in the comments as I’m a regular user or highlighters such as mildliners and often get covered in them with being a leftie!

Well, I think I’ve covered the main types of pen here but feel free to make further suggestions in the comments of other tricky pens or methods you’ve tried which have worked (or sob about the ones which didn’t!). Hope this post helps you and if not I’m really sorry! Remember, I can’t take responsibility if your favourite garment is wrecked I’m afraid.

Bye for now, Laura (a self confessed stationery addict) xx