We might be under the impression that we are consumers. But isn’t the real truth that our attention is what is being consumed? Our attention, meaning, our time, our focus and most important, our energy. It is easy to feel stressed trying to choose and to sort through details just to make decisions. Overwhelm makes us want to escape. We feel distracted and burnt out, exhausted and unable to focus. Many people fear the future in “overwhelm”.
Distraction specialist, author Nir Eyal [ paraphrased quote] said that “when we get distracted and escape once, we recognize it as escape. But when repeat that behaviour the second time, it becomes a decision. ”
We literally fall into a pattern of escape that wastes time and causes us to flounder and be unproductive. It is easy to lose our way here. Like a type of addiction that becomes more ingrained in your mental thought patterns, we need to find ways to break out of this thought prison and break free from “procrastination jail”.
Fatigue is a nasty opponent to breaking out of patterns. It is so easy to collapse and sleep. It seems unproductive, but the body is wanting time out from an overworked mind. How can we escape, the escape?
Here are small and powerful ways to rejuvenate your focus and create a second-wind of energy.
The value of Routine.
Making less decisions during the day is a popular tactic for breaking free from overwhelm. It might be as simple as waking up the same time every morning, streamlining your wardrobe [ your own uniform], exercise scheduled for the same days, time and place. Less time wasted on basics and more time to focus on what it is that you are wanting to create and achieve. While many have a resistance to goal setting and structure, it offers more free time on the other end for relaxation, happiness projects and other things that are considered a luxury in a busy world full of deadlines.
The value of routine, rituals and appreciation for what is.
One task at a time.
There are many strategies offered to soothe overwhelm. But, one of my favourites is the three task list. And, even more interesting, I choose just one that is critical for the day. This might be something important that has a deadline or needs to be done sooner that the others. Just get the one thing done, first and then do more if it’s possible. Knowing you have eliminated one “significant’ item from your list will bring you relief.
Overwhelm is a trickster. It might entice you to take a break from the task. But if you tell yourself to just focus for five more minutes, chances are you will gain momentum and keep going.
Creating a mental sanctuary.
An overactive computer processor gets overheated and sometimes, the screen locks and freezes. The mind can also flood itself with details and our conditioned responses can lock us into indecision. A pause button of sorts can be created through a creating a mental sanctuary.
A mental sanctuary is an imaginary space that is peaceful, happy and makes you feel safe. It can be created inside your mind and accessed through visualizing it. Maybe it’s a tropical beach. You feel the warm sand on your toes and the ocean breeze wash over you as you lay on a comfy lounge chair on the beach. Just close your eyes and let the feeling of being there fill your mind, body and spirit. For a few minutes, your mind has been given a respite from overwhelm. Your stress levels drop, now, it’s possible regain and sharpen your focus.
It’s not just the pings, dings, and rings. Most distraction starts from within.” “We are using our devices as digital pacification devices.” “When we believe there’s nothing we can do about the problem, we don’t even try.”
Toxic Patterns addressed.
Escape can become an addiction. Time passes and dreams vanish with them. And, in seeing that, we panic and move deeper into patterns and overwhelm. The more we try and break free from this addictive behaviour, the more it digs deeper into our spirit. How is it possible to break free?
One interesting break out method is being an observer. Step back from what you are doing and see yourself as if you are watching your day and your “holding patterns” play out. Realize why you are wanting to escape and then take one positive action to change habits. If you are stuck in internet habits, take an hour each day to turn off your phone, etc. Break the pattern, go for a walk. Read a few pages of a best seller. Talk to a stranger. Explore random acts of kindness. De-clutter your living space. Appreciate and enjoy a cup of coffee. Give the present moment your complete attention.
Replacing a locked in pattern with one small change can break the bondage of overwhelm. It might seem impossible but your recognition of being stuck is the beginning of reclaiming your energy and breaking out of overwhelm.
Breaking free with moving meditations.
Not everyone can sit still long enough experience the peacefulness of meditation. We get pulled by deadlines, other people and everything around us that draws our attention. Try using exercise and especially repetitive movement to soothe an over worked mind. Moving will release stress and give you the impression that you are, at least, moving forward. While it is an illusion, it can help you counteract the harm from stress chemicals and help you heal yourself with improvements to your sleep. Focusing on the movements, not on other things, takes the stress grip off of our mind. It offers a neuro-chemical antidote and the much needed mental pause that is a significant tool for managing overwhelm. It allows you to re-energize and sharpens your focus.
Finding your Nature.
One of the hazards of overwhelm is being stuck in a routine that doesn’t work with your nature. If you are an early riser and your day starts in the afternoon or is a graveyard shift, it will, over time, erode your energy and focus. Finding a work and sleep schedule that works with your natural rhythm will give you more energy. While this might not seem practical, depending on where you work, you can at least, on your days off use it to reset and reboot your energy.
Be in Nature
Another way to escape overwhelm is to be in nature. This can be as simple as using your imagination to be somewhere in nature, listening to a sound scape such as rain as you work, or using ocean waves as a background while you meditate or taking time out , sitting near a garden on your coffee break, going for a short a walk through a forest trail or park. Never underestimate the value of the smell of rain, freshly mowed lawns, flowers or pine trees. These are energizers.
It is possible to release yourself from the grips of overwhelm, one small task at a time. Reclaim your energy by using exercise, visualization and connecting with your own nature and to nature. As you step into your purpose, it will become even more critical to learn how to disconnect from overwhelm and any habits that feed the need to escape. While we may believe that we need a break, it becomes a habit and a weakness that can fuel decisions that won’t serve us. Just One item eliminated from our daily goal list is a start. It is a sign we are breaking free, moving forward, breaking out of overwhelm.
Have a brilliant week.