If – and these days, it’s more like when – you’re feeling simply too busy, doing some respectable stressing, under plenty of pressure and (let’s just come out and say it) feeling way too tired…this is a great article to be reading.
Our first suggestion: one big, deep breath.
OK. Hopefully you’re feeling a bit better – at least well enough to contemplate your options (and believe it or not, you do have them!).
In fact, there are three main responses to this sort of situation when it happens to you, as it does for everybody.
Here are your choices:
1) Shrug your shoulders, say to yourself “oh well, welcome to the 21st century…” and continue hobbling along, slowly losing function until things get (even) worse.
2) Recognize the problem, but haphazardly so – taking a half day at work and maybe canceling a couple scheduled events. Then, buy yourself just enough unstructured, vegetative, Netflix-based “rest” to avoid a public breakdown.
3) Recognizing the problem, and taking a definitive step back in order to properly purge the pollution in your mind and proactively using restorative activity.
Then, successfully reintegrate and regenerate the best (and only) thing that’s really yours…your mind.
Think these over, but please read on while you do!
The Reality and The Release
Here are the facts: life can get pretty hard, most of us get stressed out often, and it doesn’t seem like busyness is going away anytime soon. Whether it’s because of work, friends, family, ourselves or (likely) some combination of it all, we feel like we’re running on empty.
One solution many of us – and maybe the majority – can miss completely:
We might be feeling empty…but the reality is we’re really too full.
In order to truly replenish ourselves from time to time, we need to do a mental detox. Much like a physical detox, we slow down or completely stop the constant influx – in this case, the over-stimulation of our brains.
We allow our minds and thoughts to freely flow and to get just a bit empty…
Without so much on our minds, the pressure is released – we can both calm ourselves down and focus ourselves up.
We start again, but it’s almost as if for the first time. This is a real feeling.
It’s within reach, and it doesn’t require a Meditation Retreat – there are plenty of ways to do it.
Today is the perfect day.
Below are 7 of the most popular ways people use to do a mental detox.
Keep in mind, everyone is different. Some of these may work better for you than others, but they are all worth a try!
1. Let Go of Your Phone
No surprise most of us could use some remedy here. Between messages, emails, news notifications and – of course – social media, these devices create a lot of stress and take up entirely too much of your own “bandwidth”…
According to recent statistics, most of us spend an average of 3¼ hours daily on our mobile phones. Approximately 20% of us break the 4½ hour mark, and check them about 58 times a day…
These figures alone may prompt some musings about mental illness.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty well substantiated in current research.
More than one study (source) links large amounts and compulsive mobile phone usage with increased anxiety, depression and general emotional deregulation.
One aspect is the new, online-derived phobia: FoMO (or “Fear of Missing Out”). Irrational, yes – but it helps explain why many of us pick up our phones nearly every 15 minutes during our waking hours.
If this is starting to sound like you, have no fear (and please, no FoMO)…
Here are two simple steps you can take:
1) begin by cutting your Phone Checks in half – 29 is much less than 58!
2) try a No Device rule in your bedroom for a week; this can be amazing.
Most people today use their phones as a morning alarm. Consider the switch to some “retro” tech – after all, there aren’t any scary statistics about people checking their clock radio!
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Gives your brain and eyes a break
- More focus and better memory
- Better Sleep
2. Get Outside
This one is much more straightforward and tells us something we’ve already known since our childhood. Being outside usually feels pretty good.
That automatically means it offers mental health benefits…
From a psychological perspective, any reason to get outside is a good reason (source). Whether it’s exercising, sitting on the beach or walking the dog, spending time outdoors is always a great way to mentally detox.
A few minutes can deliver many of the benefits.
In a pinch, even a lap or two around your workplace will do the trick.
A more prolonged vacation may be even better (and if you need a reminder about why vacations are awesome, we’ve got that one covered here). If you’re able to plan a day trip or weekend “Staycation” to a nearby town, that can be a great change!
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
- Increases energy and activates immune system
- Helps creativity and improves focus
3. Do (or at least Try) Some Journaling
It’s very important to realize: if you can’t physically leave the environment that’s causing you stress, you don’t have to be stuck there.
Your mind is always free. Journaling is one great way to prove that to yourself, and another excellent way to detox mentally.
Like exercise, most people who have started journaling wish they had started sooner. Also like exercise, many people feel slightly awkward and self-conscious about the process at first. After a week or two, they have found their stride and are surprisingly comfortable with it.
There are various types of journaling – not just the “Dear Diary” variety. It has been acknowledged that your thoughts arrive in any number of forms – and nearly all of them have something to offer.
To name a few, there’s bullet journaling, dream journals, travel journals, prayer journals, gratitude journals, idea journals, and the list goes on.
Try one, and see what happens…
Helps clarify and reach goals
Clears the mind and improves focus
Helps sort through and stabilize emotions
Can improve self-confidence
Like journaling, meditation is something almost everyone knows about but very few actually try…
Please consider changing that. We’re talking about the original Mental Detox.
One of the greatest…
For thousands of years – and for millions of people – meditation has been truly transformative. While considered an art, there’s also plenty of science proving what it delivers (source).
Also, as with the journaling, there are a surprising number of meditation styles to choose from. Some examples include mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini, Zen meditation, vipassana, mantra meditation and guided meditation.
For beginners – or those more Western than most – there are a number of downloadable, self-directed ways to get started. Take some timeto find excellent classes, online apps and even a great teacher!
- Reduces stress
- Controls anxiety
- Improves self-awareness, focus and patience
- Reduces anger, unease and sadness
- Helps improve cognition and memory
- Helps improve sleep
5. Do Some Creating
Here’s another great lesson from childhood. One reason kids are so happy is because (whether they know it or not) they’re routinely practicing Mental Detox with regular self-expression, free-form thought and trying new things…
It’s the same for us in adulthood. Any sort of hobby or activity that involves creating something is highly beneficial for your mental health.
Coloring, cooking, painting, drawing, gardening, scrapbooking, sculpting, knitting…
Anything you can create with your hands will help detox your brain (source).
Both the mental and physical act of creating helps activate and stimulate suppressed areas of your brain and consciousness. We encourage you to go for it, have fun with it, and get your hands dirty!
- Stimulates imagination
- Relieves stress, anxiety and depression
- Improves self-esteem
- Provides a sense of accomplishment
- Deepens self-awareness and self-connection
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- Promotes the practice of slowing down and enjoying the process
6. Read a Book
Like journaling, reading can effortlessly transport you to any place and time, and it can be done instantaneously. Not bad for a few sheets of paper or Kindle.
Books are the creative acts of your favorite authors and can provide the same opportunities for a Mental Detox as your own creative acts.
In addition, you can read anywhere. On the beach, in a park, on the bus, curled up on the sofa, in a hammock…literally anywhere.
Also, if you like discussing books as much as reading them, join a book club for similar benefits. There’s a chance for some extra fun and making new friends.
Several online book clubs automatically send a new book each month. Sign up and you’re off and running!
Develops imagination and creativity
Improves focus, attention span and concentration
Helps reduce stress and anxiety
Increases knowledge and wisdom
Improves memory and can help prevent memory loss
7. Do Some Volunteering
Speaking of meeting people and making friends…
Volunteering is a wonderful way to do a mental detox.
Volunteering benefits you, those you help, and the world-at-large. It may seem like a paradox, but strong evidence supports that when you’re feeling your lowest, step outside yourself (source)…
By volunteering, you escape your world for a while. Something as seemingly small as holding a door open for someone makes the world a little bit better.
There are various ways and places to volunteer your time. Animal shelters, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores, libraries, and retirement homes are always looking for volunteers. Pick one and sign up!
- Improves self-confidence and self-esteem
- Reduces anger and stress
- Increases community connectivity
- Promotes gratitude, appreciation and fulfillment
- Builds character
Take Time for a Mental Detox
As with your body, your mind can become polluted, confused and overwhelmed from inside and outside stresses. Finding time to give yourself a mental detox is as important to your health as cleaning up your eating or working up a good sweat in the gym.
Whether you find time each day or carve out a big chunk of time on a weekly or monthly basis is up to you. Both are effective, and neither of them are selfish…the world needs you, but it needs you at your best!
Take this time for yourself or find your own way to Detox. There are endless ways to clear your mind and give it a break – many more than appear on this list.
We hope this has been helpful in giving you a promising start…now get started.
Your healthier and happier self is waiting!