Too Many Things To Do? Try These 3 Steps For Calmer Days.
Preview: Feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do? These three steps will help you have calmer days and set a positive tone in your home.
Have you noticed how irritable and stressed you are when you have too many things to do? When we have too many things to do, our brains get overwhelmed, and we have trouble making decisions. These feelings impair our ability to regulate our emotions and set the tone of our home. In this article, we’ll talk about why we get overwhelmed and three steps you can take to avoid it so you can have calmer days.
Why We Get Overwhelmed When We Have Too Many Things To Do
The amygdala, the emotional center of our brain, takes over when we try to do too many things at once, and we feel anxious and overwhelmed. Our prefrontal cortex, which controls executive function and the ability to self-regulate and plan, cannot do its job when the amygdala is in charge. Thankfully, there are three steps you can take to calm your amygdala and reengage your prefrontal cortex!
Three Steps For Calmer Days
Step 1: Do A Grounding Technique
We need to not be in that hyper-alert state, so the first step is to calm our amygdala and reengage the prefrontal cortex. Several grounding techniques you could use include:
- Take a walk to your mailbox, around the block, or across the room.
- Do a breathing exercise.
- Rubbing the seam of your jeans or a rock.
You can do anything that forces your focus and attention back to the present moment to calm your amygdala. You download a list of 19 grounding techniques included in the Thermostat Approach Toolkit.
Step 2: Do A Brain Dump
Our brains can only handle three to five ideas simultaneously. Dr. David Rock talks about having too many actors on the stage in Your Brain at Work; a story or play with more characters is difficult to follow. The same thing happens in our brains. You can’t keep track of everything when you try to think about too many things. Write down everything on your mind so you can stop thinking about it. Then evaluate the list using the Eliminate, Automate, Delegate funnel.
- What could you eliminate?
- What could you automate?
- What could you delegate?
When you are no longer thinking about all of the things you have to get done, you can focus on the three things you need to do next.
Step 3: Choose One Thing To Do
I love the poem popularized by Elizabeth Elliott titled “Do the next thing.” It is such a good reminder to choose one thing to do. When you take one step forward, you engage your prefrontal cortex and can think logically again. When I start doing one thing, it leads to accomplishing another and another. Instead of living in my amygdala’s emotional space, I can think and make a plan as I use my executive function skills. Choose one item from your brain dump to write down on your Daily ATM and take a step forward by doing that one thing.
As you take these three steps, you will feel calmer, more productive, and less overwhelmed. You can take one step closer to having calmer days and a thriving home atmosphere.