Mind clutter—a mind overflowing with thoughts, worries, projects, to-do lists, feeling and ideas—leads to a lot of problems. Mind clutter contributes to overload, stress, procrastination, lack of focus, burnout, clutter outside your mind, and emotional eating and overeating.
Overeating, or reaching for food when you aren’t really hungry, is a common response to feeling overloaded, ineffective, or short of time. And that’s how too much mind clutter can leave you feeling.
It’s easy to become caught in a vicious cycle (I call it the hamster wheel), when your mind is on overload. It can be tempting to resort to stress eating, or to overeat because you feel too overwhelmed to really take care of yourself. Overeating adds to any feelings of being out of control (and now having one more thing to deal with). You have so much in your head that you feel like you don’t have time or the mental space to do more than react, and you soon overeat again. Maybe this time you aren’t craving comfort, but you want an energy boost, or a reward, or a distraction.
The point is, the cycle of mind clutter contributing to emotional eating contributing to mind clutter continues, and you stay stuck. Plus, it feels awful.
My suggestion? When you focus on tools to stop overeating, don’t ignore the mind clutter. Taking control of the overwhelm can create a profound shift in both your emotional eating and your life.
Here are some tips to get started.
- Don’t rely on your memory. It doesn’t matter how well it works. The point is, it takes a lot of energy and creates stress when you store too many details, events, and things to do in your brain and expect yourself to be able to track them. Like a computer screen constantly being “refreshed,” you are continually going through the act of sorting through what you need to remember, prioritizing, and making decisions. That’s a lot of work. Write everything down. Designate one place (one notebook, app on your phone, or file on your computer) and do a brain dump of everything you are thinking about or worrying about daily. Now you don’t have to remember it anymore.
See the mental space you just created?
- Create a punch list. This is not a comprehensive list of everything that you want to accomplish in the next six months. This is the list of 1—3 priority action items you are giving your attention today or this hour or for the next fifteen minutes. Choose a time frame that works for you and honor that important task or experience with your full attention.
- Give your brain downtime. Too much clutter creates anxiety and tension. It does not encourage restfulness and relaxation. But a periodic “reboot” is exactly what you need to get off the hamster wheel. Give yourself at least 7 ½ hours of sleep and aim to spend at least ten minutes a day simply “being” and tuning in to the world around you.
Giving your mind practice at being calm instead of spinning at top speed is a good thing.
Addressing mind clutter creates a shift from being caught on the hamster wheel to being proactive and in charge. That’s where overload begins to dissolve, and peace with food and all the good stuff that comes with it, really begins.