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 melancholy...so 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?