Yesterday when it felt like the entire world was caving in on me and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to face all the things that needed to be faced, I had a moment (or ten) of major panic and anxiety and overwhelm.
And then I got my shit together.
Did I get it all the way together?
But I made forward progress.
One of my biggest challenges right now is the amount of physical and emotional energy that’s going into managing my emotions in the midst of a divorce.
I am constantly redirecting my brain.
And I’m constantly coaching myself through not saying things I won’t be able to take back.
It’s really hard.
And I think that’s one of the things with any hardship you are going through.
So much of your energy goes into controlling your brain that things that might not usually overwhelm you can seem kind of like…
The Cliffs of Despair.
That’s where I was yesterday.
So overwhelmed by the mental load of divorce — and life — that I was feeling like there was no possible way I could ever get to the top.
Or even get my ass out of the water.
So what did I do to get out of the overwhelm and take action?
1. I practiced breathing.
I know it sounds cheesy and corny, but when you sit and focus only on your breathing, it forces your brain to calm down.
And a calm brain is able to function much differently than a racing brain.
2. I made a list.
In my HOME BACE group we call this a to do download.
I unloaded all the sh*t in my head onto paper.
Not because I was going to do everything I wrote down, but just because I needed to get it out of my head and clear up some space so I could figure out what to do first.
3. I got some sleep.
Like my very first therapist said to me the first time I saw him,
Sleep is the zamboni for your brain.
So I got some sleep and cleared off the metaphorical ice.
It’s amazing how much differently an exhausted brain and a rested brain function.
4. I picked something easy to start with.
Suze Orman advises people with tons of debt to pay off the smallest debt first.
Because now you’ve removed one entire thing from your list, you feel good about being productive, and now the momentum is rolling.
So I started with something small first.
5. I moved my ass.
There is a tremendous amount of clarity that comes from exercise, whether it’s a run or a walk or a bike ride or a hike or a swim or lifting some weights or doing yoga or whatever.
And exercise has an immediate effect on your brain. The benefits are instant.
Those are five things I did today.
Did I get caught up?
Nope. Not even close.
Am I feeling a little stressed again today at the end of the day?
So I’m gonna make another list, put on my pajamas, get some sleep, and do it all over again tomorrow.
But tomorrow I’m playing golf with my parents and Number 3.
And that’s the sixth, bonus thing on the list of steps to take to scale the Cliffs of Overwhelm.
Do something that brings you pleasure.
Give your brain a little break.
Let it recover.
And then you’ll find yourself with the energy and will to scale those cliffs.
One foot (or inch) at a time.