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5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Brain


Cognitive “clutter” is real, but there are simple ways to help keep your brain space neat and tidy.

Especially as we age, a “cluttered” brain can lead to unnecessary cognitive decline. For some people, a busy memory scape can increase creativity. But for most, all that brain noise comes at a cost and can propagate forgetfulness and other cognitive disorders the older we get. The good news is there is plenty you can do right now to clear the cobwebs from your brain and make it the tidy, organized, and healthy space you want it to be.

Get Moving

Multiple new neuroscience research studies indicate that staying physically active is one of the most significant ways to reduce the risk of memory disorders and cognitive decline, especially as we get older. But no matter how old you are, the effort can start now and have real-time and sometimes immediate benefits. So, what type of exercise is best, and how much of it should you engage in for substantial brain benefits? Some experts say there is a “just right” amount of cardiovascular exercise that can aid people in decluttering information from the brain while also helping to crystalize factual details. When that just-right exercise level dips too far below the threshold, the mind can wander aimlessly.

Conversely, a too-high cardiovascular activity threshold can force the brain to stay singularly focused on the strenuous activity at hand. Maintaining a just-right activity threshold can vary from person to person. For example, a suitable cardiovascular activity for some might be jogging – with walking a below-ideal level of exercise and sprinting a too-high activity level. At least 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise most days a week is an excellent goal to work towards.

Try a “Brain Dump”

Essentially, the term “brain dump” can be synonymous with journaling. It involves the act of getting thoughts, ideas, worries, and questions swirling around in your brain at any given moment, out of your brain, and onto paper. This technique is often used to help people manage stress and anxiety, but even if you don’t feel particularly plagued by those issues, it can be a helpful brain decluttering technique to try. For most people, “brain dumping” is accomplished right before falling asleep or immediately upon waking for the day. Consider keeping a journal, index card, or even a sticky note, and a pen or pencil next to your bed. Use these items to write down whatever your brain wants to get out. There are no rules to this technique and no “right way” to do it. The simple act of regularly channeling your thoughts through your hand and out onto paper can be especially beneficial in keeping your brain space tidy on a daily basis.

Prioritize Decisions

Though we all do it to an extent, procrastination, or delaying decisions, is an ineffective activity that keeps the brain filled with too long a to-do list. Pending decisions can create brain noise that often leads to overwhelming thoughts, stress, and anxiety. When you engage in the brain dump technique described above, consider writing down the decisions you would like to make or tasks you would like to complete for that day or the next. Crossing decisions off a to-do list feels good and allows the brain more capacity for creativity, deeper thinking, and room to grow.


I’ve written extensively on sleep as a critical element to achieving optimal brain health. Additionally crucial is allowing your brain time to calm down and recharge throughout the day. That’s where mindfulness meditation comes in. The activity of meditation is not some new-age deal that only yogis engage in. Research has repeatedly shown it is an easy-to-implement (if not to accomplish) practice that enhances brain health, focus, and performance in incredible ways. Don’t know how to get started with meditation? To begin, try dedicating just one full minute of your time in a quiet place free from ALL distractions, and focus on breathing deeply and calming the mind. When intrusive thoughts try to break in, gently push them out with deep, calming breaths. As your meditative practice begins to strengthen, extend the time of your meditation sessions. This is not a worthless activity, it will become something you look forward to as a way to center your brain and your day.

Declutter Your Physical World

You may not realize it, but a cluttered home or workspace influences your brain’s productivity and overall health. If you find yourself surrounded by piles of stuff and struggling to concentrate or efficiently complete tasks, it’s time to evaluate your space and clean it up. Not everyone enjoys the act of tidying up, but most people love the outcome of a neat, clean, and organized space. This spring, make it a priority to tidy the environments you spend most of your time in. Your brain will thank you for it.

As the calendar pages turn to the warmer months and longer days ahead, use these springtime gifts to your brain’s benefit. Creating solid decluttering habits for your brain health today can have lasting positive effects tomorrow and across your entire lifespan.