Updated: May 6
The world is always in a state of change, but now more than ever the pace of change is unprecedented. As a result of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, lives have been turned upside down and people across the globe are spending more time at home.
A mere 10 days ago, I was working with my Neat Little Nest team at a client’s home while my kids attended school and my husband was at work.
Fast forward to today and our routines have been upended in every way possible. My in-home client work has been put on hold while the new client pipeline has stopped filing for now. My kids will be learning online from home for the foreseeable future, soccer practices and tournaments have been cancelled, music lessons have moved to video chats. My husband now works from home and we cook all meals in our kitchen since restaurants have closed. Oh, and the cleaning, that has ramped up of course.
To say we’re in a state of transition is an understatement. COVID-19 has changed the course of how we are collectively going about our lives and it’s unclear how long this will go on. This unexpected and swift transition has left many of us feeling anxious and a little uneasy.
Despite the heightened awareness a crisis creates, it’s comforting to remember that we are in this together. While often filled with many emotions, transitions can bring about remarkably positive outcomes once they’ve run their course.
the stages of transition
I first learned about mindfully working through transitions while taking a leadership course based on a book by William Bridges called Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. In his book, Bridges shares his philosophy that each transition has three phases:
Ending/Losing/Letting Go - In this phase, people deal with tangible and intangible losses and mentally prepare to move on.
Neutral Zone - In this phase, psychological realignments and re-patterning takes place. It is a time when people are moving through the change. While there is confusion and anxiety, great ideas and innovation also happens during this phase.
New Beginning - In this phase, a new purpose or new identity is taking hold and changes will begin to take place.
You also learn from Bridges that you will go through each stage of transition at your own pace. Those more comfortable with change are more likely to move ahead to the “New Beginning” phase more quickly, while those less comfortable with change can linger at stages one or two.
Transitions come with all types of life events like a graduation, getting married or having a baby as well as divorce, death and loss of a job. Transitions come in all shapes and sizes and are individual to the person experiencing them.
uncertain times can increase mind clutter
It is no surprise that mind clutter can increase during times of great change and uncertainty, like we are experiencing with the forced rush of change from the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Bridges transition model, the pandemic almost immediately throws you into Endings and The Neutral Zone phases of transition.
Mind clutter has the power to trigger your fight or flight response releasing a flood of chemicals and hormones, like adrenaline, into your system. Continual mind clutter could put your body in perpetual fight or flight leading to chronic stress and a whole host of health problems, including lowering your immunity and leaving you susceptible to getting ill. Not something you’re probably looking for in the midst of a global pandemic.
ways to decrease mind clutter
While you will face many challenges during the global pandemic, there are many tools available to help boost feel good endorphins and calm nerves. Below are some Neat Little Nest recommendations to declutter your mind and in turn, elevate your mood.
Breathe - Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to clear your mind quickly. Simply take a deep breath, pause and exhale slowly. Repeat this for a minute or ten. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and helps your body relax.
Take a Walk - Movement, fresh air and sunlight (vitamin D) can give your hormones a positive boost, which can help decrease mental clutter. Reconnecting with nature is a powerful tool in getting an anxious mind to calm down and reboot.
Journal - According to a research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, expressive writing eliminates intrusive thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. Researchers believe that these improvements may, in turn, free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities, including the ability to manage stress more effectively.
Make something - There are so many things you can do to keep your hands busy. You can bake something, anything. Use a favorite recipe or try something new. You can create a new music playlist. Search for new tunes or favs. Have a dance party or relax with some soothing classical or jazz.
Pamper yourself - Take some time to give yourself a little extra self-care, which could be a mud mask, a bubble bath, aromatherapy or a nap.
Declutter - Tidying up a space in your home can greatly improve mental clarity.
look for the silver lining
Like all transitions in life, there is only one way to get to the other side and that is by going through to it. While it is uncertain what our world will look like even a few weeks from today, when we live in the present taking things one hour, one decision and one day at a time we can decrease our mind clutter and successfully make it to the end of this transition.
Personally, I’ve been impressed with how the community has already come together to innovate in spectacular ways reminding me that necessity really is the mother of invention.
My advice to myself and to all of you is to keep the faith. Hold tight to your personal faith if you have that and if not, hold tight to the faith in humanity and your community. It is remarkable what happens when people come together.
I wish you continued health in the days ahead my friends.