Can relate to this?
You’ve been going, going, going and your to do list is growing exponentially so you decide to clear your schedule for a morning and just catch up. This morning finally arrives and its wide open, no appointments, no commitments, just space to re-ground and take care of things….but in the place of the relief and settledness you expect to feel, you feel stress–about the space, about the decision with how to use the time and space, about where to start.
The voice in your head sounds something like this…maybe I should start at the gym and then settle in to work or maybe I should catch up on emails or maybe I should go to a yoga class and then work from the juice bar or maybe I should work from that coffee shop near the daycare or maybe I should go to the one with the yummy muffins but I don’t need a muffin but maybe a muffin will help me focus or maybe it’d be easier to focus at home or maybe I should get some chores done first at home but catching up on work projects is more of a priority or maybe I should go to the gym first after all…maybe I’ll just check Facebook until I figure out where I should start. You know this process. You’ve been there. We all have. Crazy-making, right?
The good news is that it doesn’t have to end with us spending an hour of precious time on Facebook! Let me explain. This (above) is what it looks like when our brain is overwhelmed by ‘open loops’. Open loops are all of those things that are left hanging when we get super busy, the ideas that we didn’t right down, the conversations we need to have, the decisions we need to make, the small things that have to get taken care of. This post is not about not ever getting to this place of overwhelm (I’m not sure it’s possible to avoid this altogether), but I can tell you want to do when you get to the place!
1. Take a deep breath and acknowledge what you’re feeling “Phew, I’m overwhelmed.” or just “Overwhelm” For me, I often have a sense of landing more in my body and my heart when I acknowledge and open up to what I’m feeling.
2. Take a few minutes to ‘brain dump’–write down all of the open loops that are running around in your mind. To be clear, this is not just a to do list but anything that’s in your brain right now, e.g., ‘Deciding where to start my day: coffeeshop, home, gym, yoga’
3. Close those open loops! By closing the loops, I mean write down the idea, write the email, call your friend, schedule the acupuncture, make the decision. It doesn’t matter where you start and even just choosing a place to start is closing an open loop in your brain! Let go of trying to make the right decision or send the perfectly worded email–just send it and cross it off your list. Sometimes a decision might even be postponing a decision but do this intentionally–put a reminder in your calendar to revisit the decision next week and go ahead and cross it off your list for this week.
4. This step is super important! Once you start to feel like you’re moving forward, getting things done, less overwhelmed and more grounded, pause and really notice how this feels in your body. Take it in. Feel gratitude. This will help you anchor into this experience and your new (more grounded) state of being.
Suggestion: Write these 4 easy steps down on a post it note somewhere you’ll see it (so that you don’t have to try and retrace this post next time you’re overwhelmed!)
Hope this process is as helpful for you as it is for me. Let me know how this works for you–I would love to hear from you!