Welcome to Episode 4 of the Two of Me Podcast .
It’s incredible how many pieces of information we hold in our minds and expect ourselves to remember them. I’m talking doctors appointments, kids sports training, client meetings, family lunches….they all add up and they all end up overwhelming our minds. Join me with a cuppa or drive home as I share what has worked for me in freeing up some of my mental space in an effort to avoid heightened anxiety, burnout and mental overwhelm.
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Transcript Episode 4 – How To Free Up Your Mental Space
You’re listening to the Two of Me podcast. Join me, Eva Lewis – a wife, mother, business owner, blogger, and woman with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – as I discuss the highs and lows of juggling life with a mental illness.
Freeing Up Mental Space – You Need This!
Hey everyone, it’s Eva here and welcome to another episode of the Two of Me podcast. Great to have you here. Thank you so much for listening. It’s been amazing seeing the downloads happen, so thank you.
But today, I wanted to talk to you about how to free up more of your mental space. Now, years ago, this was an issue of mine, so I have worked on this somewhat, but what I mean by freeing up your mental space is … you know when you have so much on your mind, so many things to do, so many things to remember, you just can’t add anything else into your brain. Like it’s going to explode, you get overwhelmed, you get burn out, you get… well, for me, it triggers my anxiety big time.
So over the past few years, I have sort of learnt how to deal with that issue and it is really, really invigorating to be able to have a mind that is not cluttered with all of these things, you know, and I’m talking things, small things – it can be like paying a bill, like emailing someone, or meeting someone for coffee, or a doctor’s appointment, or a dentist appointment, or a child’s special homework. When you add all of these things together and keep adding it to your mental space or your mind, it just clogs up and then, you know, it gets to a point where that nothing else can fit.
So how do we create more mental space for ourselves? How do we, sort of, make ourselves feel that much lighter?
Physical Space Leads to Mental Space
So, the first thing I like to do is create some physical space. I don’t know if you’re like me, but clutter just does my head in, it is really bad for my mental health. So, if you can make some time to make a physical space that you actually enjoy being in.
Now you don’t have to do your whole entire house in a day or a week – pick a room or a space and do a little bit every day or a little bit every two days. It could be that you just declutter your room by pulling your clothes away, it could be that you go to Kmart and you buy some storage baskets and redo your room and just, you know, make that space a little bit more comfortable. You might even want to get rid of everything – well, not everything – but you might want to get rid of things altogether, throw them on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree, donate them, give them to your next-door neighbour or whatever. You’d be amazed at how this will make you feel once you’ve done it.
If you work from home, and a lot of people do at this moment, you can feel really confined by the same four walls. I work from home and it just drives me insane. I think doing it for over eight years, working from home, looking at the same four walls … and it is really important in terms of creating some physical space: to GET OUT, get out into your yard, but even beyond that, getting out and having coffee. Getting out, like I went to, yesterday, a local business group breakfast. Getting out and doing something like that – work somewhere different, go and work at the library or a co working space. It’s incredible what the mind can do with a change of scener
Stop, Take Stock, Prioritise
The next thing, which is pretty obvious but still people tend to forget about it, is prioritizing yourself. Because a lot of the time, and I know that I do this as well, we’re living for others and we’re spending far too much time and energy thinking about what other people want and need.
So, you know, I’m a business owner, I’m concerned about my clients. I’m a mum, I’m concerned about my children and their happiness and wellness and things like that – and my husband as well and my dog and my chickens and everyone. So, when you do this too much it means that you’re not putting yourself ahead at the forefront. So, you know you got to fill your cup first if you’re going to be effective to anyone else, everyone else. And the moment you notice that there’s an imbalance, just make a conscious effort to prioritize yourself a little more.
If it means, you know, giving yourself half a day off or a full day off. If it means you know, going and, instead of making dinner, order take away. Just little things, you know – go and watch a movie. Even if it’s by yourself, just do something for you.
Social Media’s Role in Mental Space
The next thing I feel is really important in creating mental space – and I think this is a huge culprit, too, sort of cluttering our minds – is social media. So, you’ve got to cut out the scrolling. it’s good for mental health, social media, yes. But it’s bad and I think it’s more bad than good, to be honest.
Good is that, you know, it can provide a supportive and connected community. I know I love it, the good for me is because I can keep in connection with my family that lives overseas. But there’s always that comparison factor and that is the bad one for mental health. We get into the habit of comparing our lives to the lives of other people that are shown on social media, and yes, that’s because people only show their highlight reels.
They’re not going to show the shitty stuff, they’re not going to show the “Oh, look, look, look at my piles of clothes, laundry, and look at this, you know, really dirty floor!”. They’re not going to show that. They’re going to, for example, bake a really yummy chocolate cake, they’re gonna put it there and take a really nice photo, they’re gonna crop out the messy loungeroom in the background and go, “Oh, look at this, I just baked a cake.”
So, you gotta remember… and in an article about Twitter Anxiety, a Professor of Psychology at Montgomery College – now their name is Azadeh Aalai, I’m really sorry if that was pronounced wrong, but I tried – they actually suggest that the comparisons we tend to make are of people on social media who “appear”, I’m doing that in inverted commas, “appear” to be of higher status and achieving more than we are.
Sorry, it’s all in our minds really, you know, we perceive them as being higher status and achieving more when really it’s just what they’re making us see. There are so many different things you can do, you can crop out things, you can filter things, you can strategically place things in photographs, okay. So yeah, it can can lead to feeling envious, discontent, and anxious and that is not what we want.
And then I’ve got another thing that I read – Pamela Rutledge, the Director of the Media Psychology Research Center, says that notifications on social media platforms are actually there to entice you to come back and the anxiety then kicks in because you’re anxious about missing something important. It’s like the FOMO thing – fear of missing out.
I personally have my notifications turned off for that reason, which is something that I would recommend and, you know, set times during the day that you check your Facebook, or you check your social media, instead of doing it all the time. And, you know, give yourself a day or two, a whole weekend, of having a social media detox and just not touching it. Because, you know, you’re not going to miss out on anything.
So, it’s really good for ditching the anxiety and if you think about how much we scroll through, like Facebook feeds, and Instagram feeds, and Twitter feeds, and all of that, and we are consuming this information, and – I can’t remember where I read it – but it was the amount that we read in a day was something like, just a ridiculous number of books. So, the amount that we would scroll through social media every day added up to just a ridiculous number of books, or pages of books, or something like that. So that is really going to overwhelm our minds and might, you know, clutter our minds with all that stuff, that noise.
So, get a digital detox. You don’t have to just totally stop it, just do it a little bit by a little bit. And a digital detox, even if it’s for a weekend is a good idea.
Just Say No!
Practice saying NO.
Freeing up your mental space, this is a really important thing to do but it is not easy to do and it’s taken me years to actually get the hang of it and feel good, not feel good but, you know, feel comfortable saying that to people.
So, you’ve got to get out of the habit of answering straight away – that’s one thing. You’ve just got to say to the person, “I’ll let you know, I’ll get back to you.” Because I’ve done it so many times, you know, whether you say yes or you say no, and then you regret the decision because you just didn’t think about it properly. So, don’t feel like you have to give that person a huge story or an explanation when you do say no because, you know, you’re feeling guilty. Just say, “No, I’m sorry, but I just can’t commit to that at the moment.” It’s just fine, if you say that, just leave it short and sweet.
And remember, when you’re saying no to someone – this is really important when you’re saying no to someone – it’s not about them and it’s not personal, it’s just doing what’s best for you. And once you tend to feel better about saying no, and you get over the fear of missing out, you start to feel lighter. And then more space becomes available in your mind because you haven’t over committed. And your anxiety improves, because over commitment is just a trigger for anxiety – for me, and I’m sure it is for a lot of other people.
Solo Holidays Are a Good Thing
Now, the next one – I know this is easier said than done, particularly if you have children – but if you can, take a solo holiday. I haven’t done this for a while because of, you know, the whole world situation, but, you know, even if you find a relatively cheap, but nice, hotel room, take yourself away for a night. Just take yourself away, if it’s to read a book, read some magazines, watch movies, do some work, do the work that you really needed to rip through that you haven’t been able to because you’re, you know, pestered every hour – I should say every minute by a four-year-old.
So, take a holiday alone and see what it does for your mental health. Even if it’s just one night, as I said, or it can be a weekend if you can get the grandparents to look after the kids. Just escape somewhere – It’s a wholly positive thing and you can just sort of connect with yourself a little bit more.
Brain Dumps Clear Mental Space
So, the last thing that I can hugely recommend for clearing your mental space – and it’s my actual … I think it would have been one of my favourite things – is a brain dump. Now, I can’t recall if I’ve spoken about this in another episode, but I do a brain dump at least weekly and what it does is it literally like is what it’s called – a brain dump.
I literally put all of my thoughts or everything from my mind goes down onto this sheet and it’s split into work, family, house, health, and hobbies. And I think the other one’s friends. It’s not neat, I just scribble it, and I get everything that is in my mind onto this sheet. Then, once it’s all down, I just feel amazing, like it just gets it all out.
Literally, I step away, I go and, I don’t know, make a coffee, go for a walk, then I come back and I separate it into a to do list. So, when it’s on this to do list, I put it into columns and I prioritize each item. So, I have a column that’s TODAY, and then a column that’s MUST DO, and then a column that’s IMPORTANT, but not urgent, and then the last column is MAYBE LATER. So, once I’ve prioritized everything, I come back later again, and I schedule the items into my Google Calendar, and then I start actioning the today items, so I can tick them off – and we all know how satisfying it is to tick or cross something off the to do list.
So, that brain dump worksheet that I’ve just been referring to is actually on my website, it’s a free download. If you go to themultitaskingwoman.com you will see, up in the top menu, it saysFree Mental Health Resources, and in there you can download it for free, it doesn’t cost anything. And it’s a really useful resource, something that you can print out as much as you want and use it as often as you want. So, it’s a huge benefit.
Give My Mental Space Tips A Try!
But that brings me to the conclusion of this episode. I hope you found those tips really useful. I really do find these activities useful for me when I have an overwhelmed mind and just decluttering my mind it is the best way to really make you feel lighter and less stressed and, you know, feel like you’re able to sort of deal with things again, instead of sort of feeling really sluggish and procrastinating about things and things like that.
So yeah, certainly give it a try. You don’t need to do all of the things at the same time. Pick one and go with that. If it doesn’t work for you, pick something else. But yeah, you just can’t go wrong. You know, there’s nothing to lose, trying out one or all of these different tips that I’ve shared.
So, thank you so much for listening and do go into my podcast listing and make sure that you’ve listened to the other episodes. And if you haven’t done so yet, there is the introductory episode. It’s my very first podcast, and it’s a bit of a longer one, but it shares a little bit about me, and the name, and the reason why I’m doing this podcast, and might sort of help make sense, understanding my background a little bit.
But other than that, I hope you take care this week and you will see a new episode in a week. Thank you. Bye!
Thanks for listening to the Two of Me podcast. I look forward to having you back listening to the next weekly episode, but for more content on mindset, mental health and wellbeing, check out my website – themultitaskingwoman.com .