One of the funniest video’s I have ever watched on the difference between male and female brains comes from the series “Laugh Your Way to a Happy Marriage”. In the video, marriage counsellor Mark Gungor describes men’s brains as a series of boxes, each box containing a single subject and each box totally separate from every other box. The women’s brain, on the other hand, is a tangled web of wires, all going in different directions and all connected to one another! (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoqpjOZxf2M). Similarly, Bill and Pam Farrell describe the female brain as a bowl of spaghetti; lots and lots of individual noodles all weaving in and out of each other in a tangled mess. (See “Men Are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti”)
Women this is a wonderful thing! Our “connected” thoughts enable us to manage the kids while preparing the meal for the evening while thinking about the solution to an issue at work while listening to a Ted talk etc. The problem, of course, is that it is hard to turn that mass of interconnecting wires off! Sometimes our brain is so LOUD that we can’t even sleep for all the noise! My husband would say that my brain is so loud that he can’t get to sleep sometimes!
So how do we clear our spaghetti head?
Here are five ways to create space in your head:
- Untangle the mess by writing it down.
- Mindfulness, meditation or prayer
- Get active
- Reduce your decisions
- Talk to someone.
1 Untangle the Mess by Writing it Down.
When all the things going around and around in your head just get too much try doing a “Brain Dump!” Get a piece of paper and list everything that comes to mind, that is on your mind. You might put it into categories like family, house, work project, self, etc. The main thing is to get it out of your head and on to the paper, so you can look at it and then get it into some sort of order. It may mean putting it in your diary or delegating it to someone else to look after or even putting it in the trash. Regular brain dumps, also known as weekly reviews, are a great way for you to sort your head (and life) for the week ahead. For emotional thoughts that clog your brain consider keeping a journal and writing in that when you need clarity on an issue.
2 Mindfulness, Meditation or Prayer.
Whilst these three are different practices, the point here is to move your mind from the whirlwind and place your attention on something else. That could be your surroundings and being 100% available to it (mindfulness), or focusing on a positive affirmation/picture/saying/your breath (meditation), or focusing on a big God, who cares for you (prayer). One of my favourite verses in the Bible says: “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, The Passion Translation). Paul follows up this with these thoughts in verse 8: “So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honourable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”
Intentionally focusing your thoughts on these things can only be good for you – no matter what your spiritual beliefs are.
3 Get Active.
Getting outdoors and moving is another great way to allow the fresh air to blow through that brain and clear it out! For some people a brisk walk, taking in the colours and sounds of nature helps them clear the brain. For others a more intense work out with loud music pumping in their ears blows those annoying incessant thoughts away.
4 Reduce the Number of Decisions You Have to Make
A part of the noise in our heads is all the decisions we are having to make on a daily basis. So much so that we quite often are in decision overload. So to clear out your head you can do something similar to clearing out a cupboard. You put all the similar things in the one box. (Women we could perhaps learn from the men here!?) So just like you might have a drawer for t-shirts and another for underwear, in your brain, you create routines such as a morning or evening routine, or a starting or finishing work routine. For example, your one decision at 9:30 pm every night could be that you will complete your evening routine. Your evening routine might consist of putting your electronic devices to bed (away from your bed!), getting your pj’s on, brushing your teeth, putting your exercise clothes out for next morning, reading for a ½ hour before turning off lights. Another routine might be a weekly cook up or a menu plan for the week. In other words, spending time on one occasion so you don’t have to think about it on multiple occasions.
5 Talk With Someone.
For most of us, the best way to get things out of our head is to talk about it with someone. This is one thing many women don’t have a difficulty in doing or understanding the importance of. We do it quite naturally. Men, in general, don’t usually find it so natural, however that doesn’t make it any less important for them. There is great healing in verbalising our issues. Even just hearing it with our own ears can give us some clarity, but the added benefit of having someone listen to us and to see things with a different perspective can help bring answers that we can’t find on our own. There used to be a stigma attached to seeing a counsellor or psychologist, but these days many realise that to get further in our lives we need coaches, mentors, and counsellors as well as good friends to support us on our journey. Our community structure has changed, we don’t have the extended family structure that allows us to gain wisdom by sitting at the feet of the elders of a community anymore. Sometimes with friends, we don’t want to monopolise a conversation by talking about ourselves, whereas with a mentor or coach we get to do exactly that – talk about ourselves, clear our head and look at ways through the clutter together.
I would love to hear about creative ways you have cleared your head or whether any of these suggestions resonate with you. Feel free to comment below.