Overwhelm and the Buzzing Brain

After a 5-day break traveling to a sibling reunion in Michigan, I’m now in my office looking at my desk. There is so much to do to catch up! Although it was a lovely experience being with my brothers and sisters, I now feel pretty overwhelmed.

I can feel my brain buzzing, like a million-jillion mosquitoes swarming between my ears. The ones that alight are there only fleetingly, then they buzz off. And when they do stick around, it’s a little painful; like a task is stinging in the background while I’m trying to complete sixteen other (urgent!) tasks that are just as important.

I can’t get it ALL done, and it all has to be done! Is it like that for you?

When we have multiple demands, it depletes our energy stores faster. Our buzzing brain creates a huge demand on our physical resources. The body responds by pumping stress hormones to ramp up the available fuel. Fight or flight. Which is fine if you’re being pursued by a saber-toothed tiger, but not so great when your heart is pounding and you must get some sleep. It just leaves you exhausted.

What you need is downtime, and what is most difficult to find is downtime.

So, we zone out in front of the TV or bury our face in social media and call it downtime. But when we emerge from either, we’re just as exhausted.

Here’s why: zoning out on TV puts your brain to sleep. There is no reflecting on anything. Actually, it feels pretty numb. Same for social media. Scrolling through the latest social-media feed, for many of us, can also feel like work. Well, when you’re marketing a business, it IS your work. Don’t kid yourself – TV and social media are not downtime.

I would also say that reading a good book is not actually downtime either because you’re sending the brain on a little journey of the author’s choosing. Like TV, it’s passive. That said, if your choice of a book invites reflection, then it can be very satisfying.

True downtime gives your brain a healthy break.

In my world, I create downtime through crochet.   It involves a relatively boring motion for me, and it forces my chattering mind to focus on counting the stitches. My hands are flying, my logical brain is busy keeping track, while in the background I reflect and daydream.

That’s when I consolidate what matters and imagine how things could play out.   I count my blessings and imagine a new future. I replay my experiences and reframe those negative experiences into a more positive light. It helps me make sense of my world.

I can hear it now – Well that’s just fine if you have TIME to sit around crocheting. In MY life, there isn’t a moment to spare!

I get it.

So, here’s what’s cool: it isn’t the quantity of time you spend that matters, it’s the quality. Even 5 minutes daily of focused pleasurable activity can rejuvenate, especially when that’s all the time you have.  It helps when you expand your definition of time for yourself.

Is it keeping a color book on the kitchen counter for a quick 5-minute coloring break? Is it a short walk around the block? Is it one inch of crochet or knitting? Is it practicing a skill? Is it alternating downward facing dog and cobra two or three times? Maybe it’s just 3 deep breaths while you feel your feet on the ground.

Find something that will un-tie you from time. By repeating that pondering space over and over, you can make sense of your world, you can learn from your experiences and you can begin to connect the dots of your life.

Remember, it’s quality, not quantity. Is it something you want to do? Is it pleasurable for you?

I would love to hear how you manage your overwhelm. Maybe there’s one tip you have that would benefit another reader. Please comment below and share your thoughts!


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