Updated: Jul 14
Are you fed up with having brain fog and not being able to concentrate? Are you having aches and pains in your body although you haven’t done anything to cause them? Or maybe you are working on a very important project, and you keep fidgeting unable to focus?
I can relate.
I woke up this morning full of motivation, sat down to write, and found myself thinking about the book I want to read, what I’m going to have for lunch, and how much I can’t concentrate. Still staring at a blank page.
If you’re feeling like you can’t rest mentally and that your brain goes on strike when you need it the most, you need to get your hands dirty. Don’t worry it won’t ruin your nails! And it may turn out that this is the best stress management strategy you will ever use!
But, before we start, are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time, and INVEST well in your wellness!
So, are you ready to battle stress?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could dedicate all your mental energy to all the things you want to do? Or use a never-ending supply of motivation whenever you feel like it?
What would you be able to accomplish in your day if you stayed on point, focused, and productive?
I know I would complete the tasks I planned for the day and then have some time left to do the things I love to do.
I may do a quick class of yoga to stretch my body and clear my mind. I may plan a nourishing meal and enjoy cooking it. Or I may get lost in the book I’m currently reading. Or I may just sit down on a couch guilt-free!
How about you? What would mental clarity allow you to do?
Sure, it can feel frustrating when you want to focus on something, and you can’t. You may feel energetic, but if you can’t concentrate on the task at hand, you use more energy trying to stay focused than actually concentrating.
Whether you realize it or not, all those feelings have one common thread and that is stress. Why it matters that you address stress?
Because stress shuts down your ability to focus.
You may think, this is only your focus. But have you noticed how your mood plummets too? How your irritability rises? Or maybe you have already started noticing a headache?
It’s hard to get things done when stress takes over your mental capabilities. It is very hard to win the day when you keep staring at something but then you lose your motivation.
And it is near impossible to get up and keep moving when you have no energy in your body. Stress robs you not only of your mental energy but your physical energy too.
It is impossible not to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Our lives are so fast-paced that we rarely have a moment to let our minds switch off.
Not that long time ago neuroscience showed us that our brain could sustain focus for around 90 minutes. New studies have shown that our brain can sustain focus for 60 minutes. Then it goes on strike, regardless of if you want it to go or not.
So, don’t beat yourself up. Our focus time clearly decreases as the speed of life and use of electronics increase.
There are different ways to stay productive. And one way to keep your productivity up is to incorporate stress breaks into your day. (Read here about stress breaks if you missed it 3 hacks to be more productive)
But I want to go a little bit further and invite you to get your hands dirty. No, I'm not talking about cleaning dishes, changing the oil in your car, or dealing with dirty laundry. I’m talking about doing some gardening in your own backyard.
In order to reduce mental stress, you need to do weeding.
The concept of gardening, or weeding to be exact, may be new to you. Especially when we talk about stress. So how does it work?
When you do weeding in your garden bed, you are removing all undesired plants. They are undesired in that particular place or growing at that particular time. Or simply, they are weeds that steal your space and nutrients.
You need to remove them to make space for what you really want to plant.
It goes the same way when we talk about mental stress. Your brain is preoccupied with all the ‘undesired plants’ so there is no space for any creative work. All the unwanted thoughts steal your focus, creativity, and energy, and stop you from being productive.
You need to remove the unwanted thoughts, tasks, objects, or even people to stress less.
Once the distraction is taken away from your garden bed, you have all the space to plant seeds that will grow to produce fruit.
How to Weed in 3 Easy Steps
Now, that you are familiar with the concept of weeding, it's time to use it. I like working in 3. Why? Because our brain can easily remember three tasks.
The more tasks on our list, the more confused our brain gets.
First, when you feel yourself being distracted, clear your external environment. Maybe your desk is full of objects that steal your focus? Maybe you have papers all over your desk but they don't need to be there.
Unclutter your physical space and you will unclutter your mental space too.
Second, make a list of all the tasks that occupy your mind. Are you thinking about a birthday present for your friend? Or what you’re going to eat for dinner? Or that you need to book a hair appointment?
The best tool for this is a brain dump. As the name suggests (btw this is a scientific name!) you 'dump' everything on a piece of paper (or a Word document). Anything and everything is put down on the list.
Remove anything that is not necessary right now to free up that precious space in your garden bed.
Third, select 3 tasks that you will dedicate all your focus on and allocate time when you will do them. When you clearly see where your attention needs to go, it is easier to get things done. This goes under time management strategies, but when you have a clear plan and a timeframe you will stress less.
See how easy weeding is? And your nails didn’t get broken.
Live Stress Free
You may have the best intention when you start on something, but mental stress can easily derail you. It is not only when you sit down to do creative work or work on a project, but also when you plan to stick to the changes you want to make in your health and wellness.
When you stay focused on the task at hand and pay attention to what needs to be done, you deliver real results.
Otherwise, you use all your energy on trying to stay focused and motivated, rather than actually performing the tasks. Aches, pains, headaches, frustration, or even worse can be the price to pay for the lack of mental clarity. To make sure that you don’t give in to the mental stress, do some weeding.
Remove any unwanted objects, thoughts, tasks, or people that do not need to take up your precious space at this moment. Imagine that you are focused, dedicated, and happy because things that were important to you got done and now you have the time to do the thing you love.
Wouldn’t that be worth getting your hands dirty?
Are you part of my community? Join my newsletter to get the latest action steps on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet, de-stress, manage your time better, prioritize yourself, and anything in between so that you INCREASE your energy, SAVE time and INVEST well in your wellness!