The other day, I was sitting at my desk and suddenly felt overwhelmed. My mind flooded with endless thoughts about work, undone chores, a growing to-do list, the lack of time, my kids, and on and on. The pressure I felt shut my brain down. I couldn't focus or get any work done; it was like my mind went offline. I did a "brain dump" and wrote everything down that was spinning in my head. Usually, that does the trick; it relieves the pressure and helps me feel calm and focused again. But, on this particular day, that wasn't enough.
Instead of staying at my desk feeling stuck, I went for a walk. I took a few deep breaths and started observing the nature around me. I consciously named every sensation I could—the warm sun on my face, the sound of the birds chirping in the trees, the light breeze in my hair, the weight of my steps on the ground.
Then I shifted my mind to everything I was thankful for—my kids, my husband, my eyesight, the colors in nature, the ocean, etc. After about 15 minutes, I returned to my office and Wow! What a difference it made. By the time I got back to my desk, I was re-energized and able to focus again. I no longer felt weighed down and overwhelmed. Instead, I felt clear-minded and ready to tackle my "to do" list.
I was experiencing what Dr. Smith describes as a Mental Deficit—my mental reserves were depleted. Even though, physically, I felt fine and had plenty of physical energy; my mind had shut down.
Our minds shut down when they are "cluttered" with negative thoughts—especially thoughts that cause worry, anxiety, or stress.
The trouble is our brains are wired to be vigilant and find "what's wrong." According to the National Science Foundation, 80% of our thoughts are negative, and 95% of those are repetitive. That's a lot of negativity flowing through our minds every day!
Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith states that "The life-changing power of tidying up your mind starts with letting go of those thoughts that are not producing a positive effect in your life."
And how do we let go and achieve MENTAL REST?
First, recognize if you are in a state of MENTAL DEFICIT.
Struggling to keep up with your to-do list?
Avoid activities that require mental effort?
Easily irritated when someone interrupts your workflow?
Experiencing mental fog?
Tired and not able to relax?
Unable to make ONE more decision?
Next, take small conscious steps to restore your MENTAL REST. Our minds require rest just like our bodies do.
Here are a few suggestions to "clear the mental clutter."
Create a ritual to restore your mind's state of restfulness.
The key to mental rest is to take mini-breaks during your day to relax your mind.
1. Choose a special place to "reset" your mind.
2. In your special place, choose a soothing activity for your mind.
Listen to calming music.
Do a mini-meditation
Focus on what's going well
Practice a mantra or an affirmation
Choose a POSITIVE word to meditate on
Review how you spend your time and notice how you feel mentally after these activities.
Time block activities you "must" get done earlier in the day when your mind is fresh.
Spend 25 minutes on focused work, then break 5 minutes and repeat-after four cycles, take a 20-30min.break( the Pomodoro method).
Eliminate activities you no longer find value in.
Observe and Replace Negative Thinking Patterns
Studies have shown that mental activity drains the physical body. We lose physical energy the harder our brains work. And because thoughts and emotions are intrinsically connected, negative thoughts lead to negative emotions, which drain us further. If we are not careful, mental fatigue or deficit can worsen into mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. And nobody wants that.
Paying attention to our mental state and finding "mental rest" is crucial to our overall energy supply and well-being. However, because we are all flooded with negative thoughts, it takes practice to observe, shift, and replace our negative, draining thoughts into restorative, energizing ones.
When you are flooded with thoughts that drain like worry, frustration, anger, fear, or regret, remember to pause and replace them with thoughts that restore and re-energize you. Practicing self-compassion allows us to forgive and let go. Gratitude can quell our fear and worry. Kindness toward ourselves grants us patience when we become angry or frustrated. And lastly, finding the positive or the good in any situation can reset our worried hearts.
What will you do to replenish your MENTAL ENERGY this week?
Let us know in the comments.
Coco & Vicky
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