Now that the fall is here and the holiday season is right around the corner, schedules can become chaotic and full of events that seem fun but are—in fact, stressful. Between attending holiday parties, shopping for a dozen people on your list, and going to your family’s house for the holidays, it’s no wonder that your brain gets overloaded.

What are the steps you can take to calm your mind and shift your focus when the schedule you thought you’d have changed, or when the break you expected gets taken off your list, leaving you feeling tired and stranded? You must find other ways to declutter your mind.
Here are three skills you can try to get back some of that brain space.

Clean and organize your physical space. If your home or office space is unorganized and cluttered, this can lead to mental clutter. If you start to get overwhelmed or distracted when your mind is full, then your physical environment can become a representation of how you feel. 

Your office may be filled with papers, your kitchen may be cluttered with old magazines and newspapers, or your car may look like a teen’s room. When your mind is cluttered, you may feel as if you don’t have much time and energy to care for your environment. Taking care of your living or workspace can help you take care of yourself.

You don’t have to have a house that looks like a museum or an office that is immaculate enough to be featured in Architectural Digest to make this tip work for you. You can clean up one room in your house that’s your tranquil zone, so the process is not overwhelming. See how it makes you feel. You just may be surprised.

Keep a daily journal. This strategy can take a few minutes every day and it can make a difference. Your journal is your place where you release your thoughts, concerns, worries, or mental lists. If you carry your thoughts around with you all the time, they can get heavy and weigh you down. This very seldom helps you process and organize your thoughts and decide how to prioritize what is the most important in your life at that moment.

Carrying around all those thoughts can become a big mess creating more stress and clutter in your mind. However, if you write things down, this not only creates space in your head but also allows you to see your thoughts on paper while providing an opportunity to organize and prioritize.

Do one thing at a time. Taking on too many tasks either at home or work can lead to overwhelm and you can end up feeling like you’ve achieved nothing. When I do one thing at a time, I often think of this as a conveyor belt where I can only pick up one thing at a time. Although multitasking can be effective at times, taking on more than one thing at a time can cause mental clutter. I recommend writing down what is on your conveyor belt at any given time, organize your list, and complete one thing at a time. You will feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. 


  • Angela Ficken

    Boston-based psychotherapist and entrepreneur

    I am a therapist who will challenge you to work on becoming the happier, healthier self you envision. I am an active listener in sessions and believe that providing feedback is the best way to challenge behavior patterns and to ultimately help you connect with your own strengths, wisdom, and inner resources. I ask questions and will engage you in a thoughtful way while providing you with a non-judgmental, supportive environment. I use several therapy strategies to guide patients toward accomplishing goals: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Supportive Psychotherapy Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) – Exposure therapy is specifically used for people diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Each individual comes with different experiences and needs, therefore we might use one or all of these strategies based on what you want to work on. I believe in progress, not perfection and that with every problem there is an opportunity for growth.