Is there so much on your mind right now that you feel like your head might explode?
Have you noticed that your thinking is less sharp than it usually is? Does it feel like there is some dirt in your mental gas line? Are your mental processes not running at their optimum level? Sounds like it's time for a mental defrag!
We regularly defrag our computers to keep them running smoothly and to maintain optimum performance, so what about enhancing our minds? And no, I am not talking about some hallucinogenic mind-bending process here, simply a few easy steps to clear out some of the redundancies and other stuff that is exploding your head. You need to give yourself more RAM so you have space for the things that really matter, so you can move forward and create and live the life you want.
4 Easy Steps to Clearing and Creating some "Head Space"
1/ Recognize and Acknowledge when your mind is at full capacity
How do you know you need a mental "defrag"? There are usually lots of clues, although being the high achiever that I know you are, you are probably able to function at quite a high level even when mentally maxed out. The clues might be showing up in odd ways - perhaps you are forgetting things that you never normally would, maybe one of your closest friends or family members or staff member is prompted to ask you "Are you okay? That's not like you to miss that". You might be having trouble sleeping, OR, you might be having trouble staying awake. Perhaps there is a sense of internal panic that doesn't seem to be going away. Mental overload can cause a host of symptoms and behaviors. Think of a computer - when the memory gets full it immediately says "memory full"...and won't accept any more data. Unfortunately, we humans don't get that message quite so clearly. Usually it takes some out of character slip-up that flags our overloaded state - like perhaps driving out of your parking space with your cup of coffee still sitting on your car roof, or, leaving your teen waiting at the school for a ride 'cuz you completely forgot about the doctor appointment you were supposed to take her to. That's when you say, oh man, I think I am losing my mind! Okay, so now you know you need a defrag. Now what?
Once you have recognized your symptoms of mental overload it is time to simply acknowledge your state and say "that's ok". Don't try to resist the feelings, or ignore them. The first thing to understand is that you are not going crazy. You have simply run out of mental RAM. It is time to give yourself a break.
Grant yourself some perspective by writing a REALITY CHECK LIST. Take 5 minutes and write down all of the stuff that is on your mind. Everything that is happening in your life right now that might be taking up mental bandwidth. And I am talking here about the actual stuff you that is on your plate, not the things you would like to do. Things such as taking care of your ill Dad, helping your teen study for finals, getting your new business off the ground, supporting your friend through his chemo treatments, organizing your community fundraiser, project managing your house renos etc. Simply write the list. Calmly and dispassionately.
Then look at the list objectively. Does it make sense, looking at the list you created of everything that is on your mind right now, that you are on mental overload? Yes? I thought so.
Okay - now close your eyes and relax. Take three deep breaths right from the core of your belly. As you do that focus entirely on the Breath coming in and going out. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Repeat after me: I am fabulous. I am in control. I am simply out of mental RAM.
Time now to get offload, download, defrag.
2/ Get Defragging!
Call your Internal Geek Squad:
When my computer screen suddenly went "gray" the other day and odd symbols randomly danced all over the screen, I did what any smart gal of 2012 would do, I panicked and opened the yellow pages to find a computer geek to fix it. My pals at "Geeks on the Way" sped over and after an hour or 2 of mysterious punching of keys, managed to restore my computer to normal functionality. When you get into a state of mental overload, it is critical to make an appointment with your personal internal "geek squad". Believe it or not, you have experts within that you can access to easily "fix" your overloaded, tapped out mental state. Make the call! Until you decide you really have had enough and will go crazy if you continue as you are, then nothing will change.
Give yourself some head space:
Look at the Reality list you wrote in Step 1. Is there any piece on that list that is so urgent that if it is not attended to in the next 30 minutes, people will die? If there is, then stop reading this, and do that piece immediately! Nothing quite so life and death on your list? Great, you have now given yourself 30 minutes. That will be enough time to breathe, get centered, and do the Assess and Regrouping of Step 3. Set your timer now!
Before we get practical, we first need to clear some headspace and get back to centre. Because we are pressed for time here (lol) I recommend a few quick breathing techniques to bring you back to the present. Click here to download a free pdf with some quickie focusing techniques.
3/ Assess and Park
When you look at that big list, what is the most important area on that list for you to attend to right now? Use your gut feel here, and look into your heart. For example, even though it is important to get your business in high gear, perhaps it feels more important to spend time at the hospital right now with your ailing dad and to be with your family. Having trouble deciding what's important? Enlist the support of a friend, to ask you questions around your choices. Decide on the main thing and put the rest in the parking lot. You will get to them, they have not gone away, however, you are choosing to stay focused on your most important stuff first. That is taking back control. Instantly you will be creating space in your mind. Stay present in this moment - the part you can control.
When you consciously CHOOSE to place your focus in a certain area, the frustration and angst of not being able to do everything else miraculously dissipates. The key word is "choose." You must actively, intentionally and consciously choose your focus and then stay present in that choice.
4/ Commit to Regular Maintenance
Remember the signs that indicated you were going down the road to mental overload. Tweak your world on an ongoing basis and create a new habit of downloading and offloading all things that are not absolutely necessary for you to take care of. Next time, before the oil light comes on, call your internal Geek Squad and start your mental defragging before your life's computer totally freezes up.