Self, Health And Wellness

6 Ways To Organize Your Life & Clear Mental Clutter That Help Relieve Stress

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How To Organize Your Life & Clear Mental Clutter To Relieve Stress

Who hasn’t felt stuck, stressed, or worried? There are so many reasons you might feel that way, each one unique to you and your circumstance, but all the mental "clutter" that's accumulated in your life only makes it worse.

It’s hard to think clearly, make good decisions and move forward when you’re surrounded by clutter. That's why you must learn how to organize your life and create more mental space, which allows new ideas, perspectives, and solutions to come to you.

Make room so you can breathe and feel more in control — and less overwhelmed. Learn how to relieve stress by getting mentally organized, so you can move beyond the stuck-ness. Let your life work for you.

RELATED: How To Organize Your Life In 8 Simple Steps — Even When You're Surrounded By Chaos

We’ve all been in that same, stressed-out boat at one time or another. But, how do we relieve that stress and move through and beyond it?

One way to curb the feelings of being stuck, stressed, and worried is to get organized in every area of your life: your career, home, relationships with family, friends and, most importantly, yourself.

One way to organize your life is to follow these six simple steps. The steps are simple. The stuff you have to think through — the mental clutter — maybe not so much.

But when you apply these steps to each area of your life and use them to address the things that make you feel stressed, you'll relieve those feelings and find enough clarity to move forward.

Here are 6 ways to organize your life and clear mental clutter that help relieve stress.

1. Acknowledge

Acknowledge the fact that you are stuck, stressed, or worried. The first thing you can do is sit quietly, breathe deeply, and relax. Try to put distractions aside for a few minutes. Then, think about how you’re feeling and face the fact that something is going on and you want to change how you’re reacting to it. Which is it for you?

Are you stuck in one place and can’t seem to get out of your own way? Do you have circumstances left you feeling unconfident, unfulfilled, or ineffective? Do you want to get past these feelings, but you don’t know how? That’s what being stuck feels like.

Does something (or do many things) have you stressed? Are you in a situation that feels out of your control? Are you finding it hard to make ends meet? Are there relationships that have you constantly on edge? Stress comes in all shapes and sizes — and from all directions.

For some, the worry is ever-present. Are you a worry-wart? Do you worry about not being good enough? Or smart enough? Or doubt that you can make it on your own? Or that you won't make the right decisions? If you’re lucky, you don’t worry about everything, but you do worry about some things.

Take stock of what it is for you. Face it squarely. Sometimes we can be all those things: stuck, stressed, and worried. If that’s the case for you, it’s okay. Remember, you are not alone.

2. Identify

After you face that fact that you are having one or all those feelings, now is the time to identify what it is that’s got you feeling that way. Pick the most important thing that’s got you under its thumb. There may be many things but, rather than trying to tackle them all at once, choose the one that is most concerning to you right now. Write it down on a piece of paper.

Be very specific as you describe that most urgent thing on your mind. For instance, you might be worried about changing jobs or stressed about being able to afford something you need or stuck feeling unconfident that you can make it on your own after your divorce.

Sit quietly, organize your thoughts, and decide which of the things that concern you is the most urgent to address. Don’t worry about all the other things right now. This exercise can be used at any time.

Practice first on the most important one, and you can put any others through the same process later. The key is to be very specific as you go through this organizing exercise.

3. Refine

Start refining your most important concern. Write down the specific things about your problem that have your head spinning and are making you feel stressed.

Let’s take the example of feeling worried about changing jobs. Perhaps you're worried about losing your benefits, a reduction in your salary, and that your new job won't pan out and you'll lose the security of being with a larger company.

What are the specific things about the situation you chose to focus on that make you feel stuck, stressed, or worried? Put pen to paper and start writing about them. Be as detailed as you can.

4. Mitigate

What can you do about each thing to lessen the feeling of being stuck, stressed or worried? Now take each cause of your feeling and think about what you can do to make it feel less stressful or worrisome.

Back to the example of changing jobs. What could you do to worry less about losing your benefits? You might schedule all of your annual checkups before you leave, so you have time to research and decide about new insurance.

Can you see how this works? The idea is to get very specific about what concerns you, refine it with more specifics, then think about some practical steps you can take that will ease the feeling of being stuck, stressed or worried.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Organized (When Your Life Feels Out Of Control)

5. Take action

What action plan feels right to you? This step is very important — without it, you just have a list of things that keep you stuck, stressed or worried. Who wants to stay there? If you don’t take this step, it’s unlikely you’ll ever move beyond the things that concern you.

It’s time to take some inspired action to organize your life. What small steps can you think of that will help you to lessen your worry?

You may very well have heard about creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, but you can also create S.M.A.R.T. actions, following the same model.

What if you thought about describing these steps in S.M.A.R.T. terms?

  • Specific: A very specific step or goal; small steps are better than giant leaps; small steps are easier to course-correct if they take you in the wrong direction; taking many small steps can reap greater satisfaction when you check them off your list
  • Measurable: A step or goal that can be counted (e.g. Call 3 people to help you do something)
  • Achievable: A step that is within your reach to accomplish; that you have the skills to do or that you can enlist the help of another to achieve
  • Realistic: A step that is doable within your realm of possibility (e.g. "I want to sing karaoke locally to meet more people" versus "I want to get a million–dollar recording contract to sing to the world.")
  • Time-limited: Set a completion date for each step so you don’t procrastinate, and you can feel the momentum of getting things done to lessen the feeling of being stuck stress or worry.

For example, if you want to schedule all of your annual appointments before leaving your full-time job, list out each appointment specifically (S), identify how many there are (M), confirm that each of these steps are pretty easy to accomplish (A), affirm that they're all within your realm of possibility to do (R) and set a timeline to have all of them completed by (T).

This is a simple way to make sure you’re not setting yourself up to fail and that you can hold yourself accountable to get those things done in the way and timeframe you mapped out.

6. Accountability

What will you do to ensure you keep moving forward, so you create some positive momentum for yourself? Accomplishing small action steps toward a larger goal is one of the best ways to feel good.

Confidence comes with action. When you’re doing something that makes you feel better, creates positive energy around you, lifts your spirits, and makes you smile, the feelings of being stuck, stressed, or worried start to diminish.

It helps to have someone who will agree to be your accountability partner. Many times that can be a friend who understands exactly where you are and what you’re trying to do. For others, that may be a counselor or a coach when a more objective partner is needed.

Regardless of who it is for you, reach out for the support so you can share your goals and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. for you. Then, you can share your roadblocks and get help to overcome them. And most importantly, you can share your accomplishments, celebrate your successes and move forward to create new goals as your journey continues.

These steps for how to relieve stress by organizing your life and clearing mental clutter can be applied at any time and in many situations.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Let Go Of Stress (That Actually Work)

María Tomás-Keegan is a certified Life & Career Coach for Women, founder of Transition & Thrive with María, and author of the free e-book, 5 Simple Choices to Get You Back on Track. When life flips upside down, she guides women to turn the chaos into calm, so they can clear their heads, step into their power and live life on their terms.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.