Whether it relates to the goals you’ve set or the general busy-ness of life, it’s easy to get overwhelmed from time to time. Work, family, extracurricular activities, maintaining your home — it all takes up time, energy, and space in your brain! If you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, or like your head might explode, I have a suggestion to get you back into a more comfortable place: a brain dump.
A brain dump is basically taking everything that’s floating around in your mind and getting it out. It doesn’t matter how big or small — if it’s taking up space, get it out. Now obviously we can’t just pick up and carry it out, so there are two methods for doing this: writing it out and talking it out.
If you’re an introvert or simply like seeing things to process them, then writing it out is the way for you. Write down everything that comes to mind. Sort it into groups while you’re writing, if possible. Make lists. Write down questions or worries or things to do. Write down goals and steps to get there — or concerns about not reaching them. Write down tidbits of information you don’t want to forget (or great ideas that come to mind as you’re writing!). EVERYTHING that you think gets written down. Don’t worry about it getting too long or confusing or complicated. The goal is to get it out of your head and onto paper, so the more you write, the better.
If you’re an extrovert or simply think better while talking, then open up a voice memo file on your phone and talk away. Don’t have one? Send yourself a voicemail (you may need to send multiple if there are time limits). Or you can pick up an audio recorder device at a local store. Then get it all out. As mentioned above, talk about anything that comes to mind. Anything that’s taking up space should be discussed.
Once it’s all out, breathe. Take a moment to decompress. Feel the weight release from your shoulders. If you don’t feel more relaxed, try thinking and writing or talking some more.
After your mental break (which can be as short or as long as you need), look at what you wrote or listen to what you dictated. If there are quick tasks that can be done, do them. Get them out of your mind permanently. If there are worries or concerns, schedule a time to think about them and reason them out or problem solve. If there are goals or plans or ideas to work out, determine when you’ll take care of them. In short, take all the items that were cluttering your brain and compartmentalize them. Take care of them or plan out when you will.
Rinse and Repeat
Once you’ve dealt with the items that were cluttering your mind, it’s likely new things (or the same things if they haven’t been completely dealt with yet) will start creeping in again. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed again, try the process again. The more regularly you clear your mind, the less likely you will get to a point where you completely shut down.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed so often you’re getting very anxious, perhaps other steps are necessary. Try talking to a licensed therapist (or even a close friend if that helps). Try meditating. Or maybe you simply have too much going on, and you need to let some things go. Evaluate your lists and see if there are any items that you can delegate or simply say “no” to.
Here is what my recent brain dump looked like:
Are there other methods you’ve tried to clear your mind? What has worked for you?