Here are five things to try (out of many) when your thoughts become too "cluttered."
1. If you're working, switch locations. Instead of feeling trapped at one desk, take your work with you somewhere new, or at least get up and move around.
2. Physically throw away negative thoughts. Write them down and chuck them in the trash can. Richard Petty from Ohio State University led a study and found that, "At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works -- by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts."
3. Meditate. Meditation can seem intimidating, but don't let the "am I doing it right?" thoughts stop you. The benefits of the practice seem endless, and now Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., and Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., are looking at the practice as a therapy to reduce pain and everyday anxiety.
4. Embrace mental downtime. Turning it off can be just as important as turning it on. From Scientific American, "Downtime replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life."
5. Take a run (or a walk). The University of British Columbia ran a study that found when you get your heart pumping and your body sweaty, the part of your brain associated with verbal memory and learning actually grows.