Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at ways to look after our mental health. We’ve explored how stopping and taking a break helps us in reducing the clutter in our minds. We still balk at actually ‘doing nothing’ and seem to think we need to keep ourselves busy, but our minds need a break. Are there certain activities that you gravitate towards when you have a break?  I know if I’m waiting for someone and I’m out and about, I pull out my phone and either start checking my email or scrolling through news or social media feeds.  We are not human doings, rather we are human beings, however we tend to forget that and probably spend those idle moments doing, rather than being.

It’s well worth taking some time to consider what it is that we’re doing with our time. Slowing down when we feel like we have a million things to do can be hard. It’s easy to think that we have too much to do (and many do), but do we really make the effort to press pause occasionally?  Rather than pulling out your phone next time you have to wait for something, have you considered just doing nothing?  Paying attention to those around us, our environment, or our feelings gives our brains a moment to relax. Spending some time in silence enables us to reflect on our lives, what we’re up to, and find some inspiration too.

Sometimes, we need to just go outside and enjoy the beauty of our world. Doing so and resisting the temptation to be ‘productive’ can be restorative for us. Rather than listening to podcasts, listen to your environment. This can be one of the most effective mental health breaks we might take.

We all benefit from slowing down at times. We can be our brain’s own worst enemy by rushing everything – meals, driving, moving around to name a few. Focusing on savouring the tastes and textures of our food aids in better digestion and enables us to enjoy our meals more. The State Government’s latest road safety campaign is urging drivers to pay more attention when driving, by acknowledging other drivers. Our brains like this and by doing so, drivers are less likely to speed or succumb to road rage. Another initiative encourages drivers to take some deep breaths before driving and regularly during the drive. This helps them to focus on what they’re actually doing while reducing some of that mental clutter.

Pausing and slowing enable us to better manage and handle the many tasks we have to do rather than stealing our focus. Have you taken time to slow down yet? I’d love to hear some of your ideas on reducing mental clutter and what works for you!

Jenny Billingham

(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at j.billingham@mueller.qld.edu.au  Thanks.)