Clearing the Mind
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Clearing the Mind

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world, demonstrating how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. We’re taking a look this time at ways in which you can help clear your mind, give yourself some space, unwind, and focus on you.

Phone addiction

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Are you addicted to your mobile phone? A question perhaps you’ve pondered over the years as it becomes increasingly impossible for many of us to live without our handheld devices. Experiencing anxiety when the battery gets low, not being able to leave the house without it, or feeling annoyed when there’s no signal are all signs of a potential addiction.

The 2020 Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma is rather thought-provoking on this matter and definitely worth a watch, exploring the dangerous human impact of social networking. The number of searches and subsequent articles about taking time away from the phone, quitting Facebook, or how to break phone addiction suggests an awareness of the problem and perhaps a need for help to curb usage. 

There’s a lot of advice online, and with most phones, you can manually restrict the usage of each app, but one of the more simple yet effective approaches is to rate how happy you are before you log onto social media (whether that be Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.). When you come off the app, note again how happy you feel. If you feel worse, or even the same, it’s a good indication of whether that was time well spent or not!

Holding onto “things.”

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While we’re talking about clearing the mind, we were keen to mention minimalism, mainly because we love the Ted Talk “The Art of Letting Go” by “The Minimalists” (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus). They acknowledge the connection between the physical and emotional things we hold onto, especially those “just in case” items! Trends before Covid showed that millennials value experiences over owning things, with many choosing to seize the moment, particularly given the many uncertainties in the world.

2020 was clearly a disruptive year with its many lockdowns and restrictions, meaning minimal experiences for everyone, and so it will be interesting to see how the landscape settles. Evidence suggests that Covid has undoubtedly changed our money habits, with more cash being spent on health and fitness, which makes sense with the gyms closing. 

We’re also spending more on our homes - again makes sense as we’re all spending more time there. But it often takes a crisis to realize what’s important. As we continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic, ask yourself what you’ve been craving the most. For many, it’s likely to be seeing friends and family, getting away from the daily grind, perhaps a beach visit, or a road trip - these are often the moments that bring us real joy.

The art of reading

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There’s nothing quite like getting stuck into a good book, is there? Books offer adventure, escape, and the chance to experience something outside the ordinary. Yet as we pass another spike in the pandemic, Netflix expects the end of the Covid TV streaming boom, suggesting that many of us turned to the service to get us through difficult times. It’s probably worth saying at this point that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying shows on Netflix. It’s perfect escapism and has provided some excellent entertainment for many of us stuck at home. 

But we were curious about how bingeing on a TV show for hours on end differed from reading a book. As you’d expect, the subject has been debated many times, but in simple terms, watching TV is a passive activity, whereas reading is an active one. 

Why does that matter? Well, it turns out that books are better for the brain. They encourage the brain to respond to sensory information, help develop vocabulary, and an important one, reading requires constant attention. So while we don’t advocate anyone giving up something they enjoy, perhaps it’s worth picking up a book now and again to mix it up.

Meditation - not a one size fits all.

There’s lots of evidence out there that meditation is great for mental health; the list of benefits is vast, and mindfulness may even change the brain in depressed patients

While we aren’t debating any of this, what if you’ve tried mindfulness and feel like it hasn’t worked for you? It’s pretty easy to dismiss the whole concept when you see no benefits, but let’s remember, we are all different, so why would the same meditation or mindfulness approach work for all of us? It’s not a one size fits all solution, and it’s worth remembering that there are many different types of meditation and techniques, so it’s worth trying a few out to see what works best for you.

Some find a guided meditation essential, as trying to sit and clear the mind to focus on only the breath can simply cause more stress. A body scan is a good option, too if you find it hard to switch off. If you’re looking to try something completely different, then why not try a sound bath, or if it’s difficult to sit still, perhaps experiment with a moving meditation like tai chi or qigong.

Related: Mindfulness quotes to Inspire us to be present

Write it all out

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While we’re talking about clearing the mind, talking about exercise seems a bit too obvious, so instead of working it out, why not try writing it out? Freeform writing is often used by writers to encourage new ideas or tackle writer's block. It can, however, also be a very useful tool to deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

It’s all very simple too, take a pen, or head to your laptop and start writing. Try not to have any preconceptions about what you’re going to say or what might come next. At first, it might feel a bit strange, and if you get stuck, you can quite literally write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until something else pops up. Have a look at our journal prompts for some ideas to get started and tips on how to write a journal.

The technique is also known as morning pages, and it’s thought to be even more beneficial if carried out regularly. If you’re interested, there’s even a morning pages app to keep you on track. Lots of evidence suggests that writing is good for your mental health; it can help create a safe space to share thoughts, help us to get to know ourselves better, and break negative thinking patterns, so if it’s not something you’ve tried before, pick up a pen and give it a try!

Sam produces our regular #TRVSTLOVES where she seeks out inspiration, news, and ideas from across the globe that both highlight and celebrate how actions can make for social and environmental change.

Sam is passionate about seeking out small businesses that are implementing remarkable and exciting projects to tackle the climate crisis; she enjoys exploring how their innovation will help change the future of our world.
A degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton has given Sam the research expertise to share and contextualize stories around innovative projects, legislation, and changemakers.

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