Feeling Overwhelmed? One simple exercise you need to do to gain clarity
Ah June, we meet with a slight feeling of anxiety. Insert the flurry of statements such as “Shit, where did the past 6 months go!” and “Oh no, soon it will be Christmas”…but seriously, how is it mid-year already? I had a minor meltdown the other day. Okay I lie, the past few days have involved several melt-downs but it actually felt good. Releasing a few tears, and letting go of that pent up emotion was well over-due.
To paint a bit of a picture for you, my brain has been in a constant state of over-drive. It goes a little something like this;
Wake up – should do yoga – need sleep, sleep in, must send card, need to be more loving to myself and others, don’t eat lunch at desk, create Groove playlist, write back to text message, work out whether to drive or take a bus to work tomorrow, great idea for blog post, make time to write, prepare dinner for the next few nights, hand washing is the pits, aimless scrolling on Facebook, make time to book holiday, write-out to do list, must go to bed early. 11pm (doh!)
I know, I know, ‘first world problems right?’! Yet, whatever battle you may be facing, any kind of over-exertion is bound to come to a head. We have been striving, yearning, anticipating and June is the perfect time for a serious check in.
When the plate is feeling a little overcrowded, it can be hard to know which foot to put in front of the other. The easy option is to throw in the towel, but I decided that the only way to get out of this rut was to get it all out. I created a ‘2014’ board and drew up a mind map of all the things that have been happening for me so far this year. The process in itself was overwhelming – there were so many lines drawn from the centre of the page, however to see it visually on a piece of paper made it so much more digestible. Getting it out of our heads and onto paper is where the magic happens.
A sense of clarity beamed through. Awareness – ‘ah that’s why you’ve been so frazzled’! This one simple exercise put it all into perspective for me. It got me out of the funk and into productive mode, after all – we are the ones in control and we can determine how we feel. Do you want to alleviate that tightness in your chest, knotted stomach and racing mind? Well here’s a few reasons why creating a visual mind map can help you settle overwhelm.
1. Let’s CELEBRATE
As with most to-do lists or goals, we love that feeling of accomplishment. We love getting things done and eradicating it from our lives – “next!” we yell. Yet we often forget to take a moment to celebrate all that we have achieved. Focusing too heavily on the future can only lead to overwhelm, so take a step back and reflect on how far you have already come! You will be pleasantly surprised.
2. Create STRUCTURE
Instead of having disorganised thoughts rushing through our heads, getting them out onto paper can give our ideas structure. It helps us to focus on where we’re spending our time, so that we can manage it more efficiently and effectively. Looking at your 2014 board, what do you need to spend more time doing? What do you need to spend less time doing? Creating a weekly planner is another great way of providing structure. I relied heavily on a weekly planner throughout uni and since letting this organisational tool slide, I’ve fallen into an unproductive heap! Welcome the weekly planner back in – it makes it so much easier when you’re trying to manage different areas of your life such as fitness, hobbies, work and downtime. You can check out some of my favourite weekly/monthly planners here and here.
3. Find your FLOW
Routine can be boring, but it can also help you reduce overwhelm. When I was mapping out everything that I’ve been doing for the past 6 months, I realised that I didn’t have a well laid out routine. Having so many different commitments requiring different energy levels can make your head explode! Add a little routine into the mix and you will be able to find more flow. Wake up at the same time every day, or fit in a nightly 10 minute meditation – whatever it is, make sure it enhances your day. I’m not suggesting we make every SINGLE day the same, just add a few non-negotiable activities throughout your day to bring back some structure into your life.
4. Set some BOUNDARIES
I’m referring to social media, checking email’s or texts, and attending social activities. When we really sit down and map out all of the things that we do with our time, think about how much time you spend responding to requests. We want answers. And most often, we want them NOW. Overwhelm alert! Text messages can wait, so can Facebook notifications (easier said than done) but set some boundaries around this incoming information. Check emails/texts only a few times a day (if you have to) and block out designated times to attend to these. You will notice how much space you clear, not only within your schedule but within your headspace.
Now, your mid-year check in: What’s on your 2014 mind map at the moment? You can draw yourself headings for different areas of your life (relationships, career, money etc) or you can focus purely on what you devote your time to. Before you get too overwhelmed, look at how far you have come already. If you want to finish off the rest of the year with productivity and direction, all you need is pen and paper! Nothing is too big, wild or crazy for you to achieve or overcome once you find clarity. Keep reflecting, adjusting and tweaking and allow the ease and flow back into your life. Remember, overwhelm is temporary.
I hope this simple exercise gives you renewed energy and perspective. Do you have any strategies to reduce overwhelm? Let me know in the comments below – you never know who you might help by sharing your tips!