Clear the Cache in our Heads
The other day I was out walking, getting my daily exercise and 'me time', and about two minutes in I realised I was singing 'The Wheels on the Bus'. Not even just thinking it, but singing out loud. Without noticing. Luckily, there was no one around. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a process I’d done that day with my computer.
Every now and then our devices and computers have a bit of a freeze up and we need to 'clear the cache' on them. Basically, it means to shut down all those processes going on in the background and clear the build up of data we don't need to keep. In the past we used to do a 'defrag' on our big clunky computers, where all the different files and systems would be re-organised to improve processing speed and make more space for new files.
Sounds a tad relevant to ourselves though, right? My autopilot singing from the day was stuck on repeat in my head, taking up unnecessary space, and preventing my mind from being clear and refreshed. I didn’t have the space to think properly because I was too busy letting my mind wander and singing songs from my baby’s toys.
Brain fog. Mummy brain. Call it what you like, we’ve all experienced it. And I’ve realised that we all need to clear those invisible things going on in our heads regularly if we are going to think at our best capacity.
So how do we clear the cache in our own heads?
- Become aware of your thoughts. All this stuff is going on in the background and often we just let our thoughts run around doing their own things. The first step to taking control is just that - take control back. Become aware of what you’re thinking. Have a trigger/reminder set (e.g. when you reach that tree in your daily walk, or every time you make a coffee, or when you go to the toilet) where you stop and ask yourself what you’re thinking about.
- Empty the unnecessary items. To do this, we have to clear our heads of all the thoughts. If you’re into meditation, this is where it comes in. If you haven’t done much of that before, simply try having no thoughts for two minutes. Time it on your phone. Every time you catch yourself having a thought, consciously ‘let go’ of the thought and go back to blank slate. (Note: it’s the ‘letting go’ and returning back to blank that is the effective part of this, so even if that’s all you do, it is working! You’re capturing those processes and clearing them out when you deliberately stop thinking about them while they’re running.) If you can go longer than two minutes, do!
- Choose what you want to focus on for the next few minutes. A good spot to start is something that will help you feel good. This will help set the ‘program’ for how you do want your mind to think. Try thinking about all the positive things from today, or all the things you’re grateful for today. Even if there is a very pressing matter you need to think over, do this step first.
- Decide what you want to use your thoughts for. What is your brain for today? If you know where you want to direct your brain power, you’ll be able to ignore those useless noisy thoughts that pop up and threaten to slow you down. You’ll be able to use your mind effectively and give things your best focus and energy.
So really, it comes down to three things: clear it all out, then choose what you do want in there, then be more mindful going forward. The more often you stay in control, the quicker and easier it is to do the clearing and refreshing, just like our devices.
I sure am not going to be opening up a heap of programs and saving data on my computer if I can help it any time soon. And I also am going to make sure that if I’m going to sing anything on my walk, it’s going to be a song I love, not the bloody wheels on the bus.