When you feel overwhelmed, it feels like you have no space to think. Eventually, your mind does become cluttered up, and it feels difficult to make heads or tails of things. If you find that your mind is always on green for go, and there is never any time just to let go and be, then you need to create more mental space.
There are a couple of things that can help you to create some mental space, and what works will be different for everyone. There are also times when creating that space won’t work because what you really need is mental health treatment.
What is mental space?
If we think about our brain like a computer, and the computer is so full that it has trouble doing basic tasks like word processing. What happened is all the memory has been taken up, and it leaves almost nothing for running other tasks.
To deal with this on a computer, you’d go through the files and applications, delete what you don’t need or use, and then move things you want to keep to a hard drive.
All of a sudden, your computer is going to start working incredibly well, and the judders of the previous few weeks are going to stop.
So now, looking back to the mind, imagine your mind is full of everything from errands, family worries, work, household, and extra things – and you notice you have trouble just doing regular day-to-day tasks.
There are times that people who are in the mode for a long time begin to rationalize it – and become comfortable with it. But that is more likely to lead to burnout – as well as a range of other physical issues. Our mental health has a huge impact on the rest of our bodies.
So, in essence, mental space is the absence of all of the things that take up space to the point we can’t form a coherent thought.
Does mental space matter?
Unfortunately, we live in a society that wants people to be working on being productive, having a high output, and focusing on work. Going and going and going – until you burn out. There are a lot of things that come along with needing more mental space.
Mental space gives us room to be creative and do things we enjoy to the fullest. It allows us to rest fully because our mind isn’t overwhelmed to the point of restlessness. Mental overwhelm can also increase the chances of anxiety and depression.
We can set firm boundaries and make better decisions when we have the space and time to think about it properly too.
More mental space also does have the benefit of producing better work and being more productive too! But if you are pushed to extremes, those things are less likely to happen.
In other words, mental space will allow you to be the best version of yourself.
So how can you create more mental space for yourself?
Did you know that every time you swap between tasks, you lose time? Switching back and forth between tasks loses around 20 minutes while you need to refocus again. While we might pride ourselves on being able to do loads of things at once – they won’t be done to our full capacity.
Ditching multitasking actually frees up a lot of mental space – switching back and forth jumbles up the thought process. Instead, do one task at a time but employ time constraints for yourself so that you get everything done in the best time possible.
Just like offloading a bunch of files from a computer onto an HDD, you can do the same with your brain. Writing down thoughts, ideas, feelings, and more means you lighten the load of your brain. The act of writing is important, but some people prefer to write things down on their computers.
Writing things down is a great way to help manage anxiety and stress and to write down the things that are bothering you.
We are bombarded every day with thousands of pieces of information. Seven emails from the school about cake sales, 200 emails from work (at a minimum), the workload you need to do, the car service dates, and so much more.
Then add on top local and world news, social media platforms, and more.
That is a lot! And we can’t help it – in the modern world, we are delivered media all day, and we are now almost trained to absorb it all and look for more too.
It can be a good idea to start setting timers on how much you consume each day. And, instead of following lots of accounts, only follow what makes you feel good.
This one can be pretty tough since almost everyone is mildly addicted to their devices. But they take up a lot of time and take away the space to be creative with your hands and mind. Resist the urge to spend time on social media in the morning instead of reading the news and listening to it on the radio (if you must).
You don’t need to ditch the device for hours and hours; you can start with just thirty minutes at a time. If you need to be reached, it is possible to have a ‘dumb’ phone that is only used for calls and texts.
If on your days off, you are doing groceries, heading back and forth to clubs and groups, cleaning, and more – that isn’t a day off. And what is the worst thing that will happen if you skip some of it?
When was the last time you had a day where you could really do nothing at all? Start making white space in your calendar – and plan for a device-free day doing things you love (even if it is just sleeping).
When we are children, the things that we do to relax and unwind – and just because it is fun are coloring, drawing, and being artistic. When was the last time that you decided to do something just for fun, with no purpose other than to create something for a while?
Letting our minds relax and color in is one of the best ways for people to let their brains not think for a while, and we get gratification for completing it too!
Creating mental space in a busy world is a must – but it is going to take being conscious of what you need and how to get it to get there.
Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to achieve some mental clatiry and space. Here are some top tips for you: Self-Care: How To Treat Yourself the Way You Deserve.