I’ve been struggling a little bit lately I must admit. I’ve spread myself too thinly and this is catching up with me now. I have this tendency to say yes to things, without fully considering the consequences. Sound familiar?
Mind you, I only ever say yes to things (well these days anyway) that excite me. And even then, too much of a good thing can still be too much.
So I’ve had a look at how I can best manage my own energy going through busy periods like this. And what I have come up with is probably not mind blowing, or even at all new to most of you. And it has really hit home with me this week, so I felt it was worth sharing anyway.
When I’m feeling busy, I’ve noticed that my mind gets really busy too. I start thinking about all the things that I haven’t done, that I need to plan, people I should have called, emails I must reply to, dinners I must cook… And all of these thoughts add to the feeling of busyness, you might even call it overwhelm.
Then there’s the solely mental overwhelm to deal with as well. You know the one. The one that creeps up on you when you might have a little bit extra time on your hands. The one that sets of if you’re not ok with having some time out, some time off, a slower day (which we all need and I’m all for). The mental stress that sets in if and when you feel like you “should be doing more”, for whatever reason.
I see this in myself and I’ve seen it in my friends and clients as well, when I’m not physically busy, I can still make myself mentally busy anyway.
When you don’t know what to do or how to move forward, what do you normally do? Some people sit and wait for inspiration, procrastinating and hoping for direction to turn up. And while waiting for direction, they normally try to figure it out from a head space. “What do I need to do next?”
Some people push themselves even harder, thinking “the more energy I put in, even if it’s going in the wrong direction, something MUST happen, right?” Some people freeze and feel crap and as a result end up doing nothing, sitting at home like a deer caught in the headlights trying to “figure things out”. Some people stress about it, obsess about it, talk about it, try to work it out, and as a result, it feels like a lot is going on, and in reality, nothing really happens.
So if you are physically busy, or mentally busy, or both, feeling overwhelmed does not help. Agreed?
Well, what can you do? I have found this week that PHYSICALLY changing helps. Don’t try and work with that busy mind of yours, this will only add to the burden of the millions of thoughts already running around in there. Instead, DO something different. Forget about your mental abilities and get into your body.
Surely meditation must be great, as this is what it’s all about, quietening your mind. For a number of reasons, I actually don’t recommend you starting out with meditation, unless you are very skilled at it and quickly can get to a place of peace inside. Why? From what I hear so many people tell me, they never, ever get to that calm, beautiful place inside while meditating. They just sit still and their mind races just as quickly and as much as per normal. So start with something much more simple.
That’s it. Move your body. Go for a walk. Clean out your wardrobe. Go to the gym. Get your bike out and go for a ride. Weed your garden (added on bonus of connecting with the earth). Swim in the ocean. Walk your dog. Do some yoga at home. And whatever you do, really focus on how this activity feels physically. Notice your breathing, what muscles are being used, are you sweating? And then start noticing things around you. Is the sky blue today? Is the sun out? What are the other people at the gym wearing? Has anything changed in your neighbourhood? Just pay attention.
And you will notice your mind starting to calm down. I have found that when I’m present in my body, it’s really hard to be busy in my mind at the same time. Being physical directs your energy towards something completely different, and it will give you the mental break you’re looking for.
If you’re at work, you can always go for a quick 5 minute walk outside. Find an empty meeting room and do some sit-ups, pushups and star jumps. Or stand up and do some stretches at your desk. Who knows, your colleagues might even join in!
Think about some things to have up your sleeve as your go-to solutions for when you find yourself feeling too busy or overwhelmed. Figure out a few things you know you would love to do ahead of time and write them down somewhere. Then when the mental stress hits, you can look at your list and choose an activity and get yourself back towards a calmer, more centred you.
What will work for you? What will you do to get out of your head and into your body?