Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Head and Hands


In this season of hyper-connectivity with smartphones and the easy access to endless information, I have realized that it is so easy for me to get "stuck in my head".  I get a million thoughts going a million miles an hour and it's hard for me to be fully engaged in the present moment when my mind is chronically somewhere else.  I also start feeling agitated and even many ideas and people and to-do lists all swirling around together with no focus and no clarity.

Can any of you relate?

I have found a few strategies that help.

The first is NOT to check email, the Internet or social media or texts first thing in the morning. It sends my brain into many directions that I don't need to be going down yet.  I need my brain to first and foremost engage with Jesus and my husband, and every time I pick up my phone first thing, neither of those two relationships seem to get the focus that my heart really wants to give them.

The next thing I have found is that my head needs the connection with my hands in order to calm down. This usually means pen to paper.  The act of writing really helps my mind focus and gain clarity. "Downloading" in the morning in the form of a list really helps steer my morning in the right direction. Downloading my thoughts in the evening allows me to evaluate the day, list gratitude, and check in with my progress with my current goals. Taking a few hours on the weekend to do some planning has done more for my mental health than anything else in a long time. Over the years, I had gotten into an unhealthy habit of just trying to hold all these things (ideas, projects, lists, concerns, prayers, people) up in my head, and it ended up making me feel spiritually, emotionally and mentally cluttered.

My head also needs to connect with my hands through creative acts.  If I sit down to sew, it really requires focus in order to avoid mistakes, and that creative focus is deeply restful for my busy mind.  That's one of the reasons that I feel like I am on a emotional high after sewing...because it requires singular focus for me and that is very emotionally energizing. Gardening is very similar.  Getting my hands dirty and digging and weeding and planting always gifts me with calm and clarity. Anything that requires my undivided concentration seems to be extremely profitable for me in these days of fragmentation whether in mind, service or schedule.

Now more than ever, it seems that we must be proactive in finding healthy ways of quieting our minds and focusing on the present moment. This is a formidable challenge during these days of instant access to others and ideas. If you have an active mind like I do, how do you reign it in and help yourself focus?  How do you manage the barrage of thoughts, questions, ideas? What strategies help you stay present in the moment?


Rain said...

I need to be reminded of this. Thank you. My brain is definitely in need of some downloading.

Sandi said...

"Now more than ever, it seems that we must be proactive in finding healthy ways of quieting our minds and focusing on the present moment."


Unplugging is a virtue. It used to be that monks and gurus went up a high mountain to study and contemplate. I just turn off my iPad and :)

Julia said...

I know in this day and age, there is no getting away from technology, but I really want to find a healthy balance with it. It's definitely a challenge! Technology can be a blessing and a curse! Just trying to figure out what parameters work best for me and our family, especially with the kids getting out of school for the summer soon.

I really hate for my kids to see me on my phone so much. But you know, it's not just a phone anymore... with all the apps available, my phone is now my calendar, my bible, my weather channel, my email, my camera, my cookbook, my clock, my map, my music, my online shopping, my news, my social outlet, my to do list, my medical reference, etc, etc, etc! There's so much that we can do with this little thing in the palm of our hands... it really makes it hard to put it down! I like your idea of not using it first thing in the mornings, though. Some unhurried, peaceful time with God every morning can make all the difference in the world! :)

Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

I find it so fascinating how differently God made us all. How some (you and I) crave order and beauty and find our rest and peace in creating order and working with our hands, and how others might not be able to bear that quiet and orderliness but are still absolutely vital to the whole balance of the human race. He is so lovely to create such beautiful differences. :)

Working with my hands in the evenings while listening to either a Mars Hill Audio Journal that my husband has chosen for us, or a podcast from my vast online folder is one of the best ways I find to reign in my thoughts from the day and bring focus to it all.

Starting my day with just Him as you described, yes, that is also vital. Now that my baby is one and I'm introducing solids and she's finally sleeping almost through the night, I am coming alive again, it seems. :) I memorize (working on James 1), I pray over each of my children and my husband, and I make a list for the day.

And I don't own a smart phone at all. We have one cell phone, and it's the most basic of the basic and my husband usually has it most of the day. :) I love that I don't have that distraction at my fingertips- I truly can be a hands-free mama, but isn't it funny how if it isn't a smart phone, it can be something else? I've definitely been guilty of using must-do work to explain why I cannot stop to look at a drawing or read a story or take a walk.

The enemy will always be looking for ways to take a mama away from her most precious work. And we mamas must always be watching out for this- and not judging other mamas for their technology use when we are just as guilty of filling our time with things other than the blessed duties of our families.

Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

p.s.- The last part of my comment might have sounded pointed, like I was addressing something in your post. I wasn't. :) That thought just came to me at the end. <3

thehomespunheart said...

Hi! Would you please share a source for printing the lists shown in your photos?! :) Thanks!

Aimee said...

Those lists are from Lara Casey's Powersheets and can be ordered from her website! Well worth the investment!