by Anita Mambo Cohn, LCSW
We have all been there. We are having one of those days! We have a big to-do list already and there is still more to add. We start to feel overwhelmed, doubt starts to seep in, and we start questioning everything. How can we get out of this cycle? Where do we start?
For me, starting begins with stopping, taking pause, reflecting and going deep. Maybe you’ve been so busy thinking about how to get it all done and this is distracting you from what’s most important. If you’re like me, tuning into my inner world and purpose helps ground me.
I have put together some brief exercises that have helped me hit the pause button, get back on track and focus on what’s really important. And guess what? They each only take 10 minutes!
- Begin the Process of Making Change
Declaring “I’m going to change my life now” and “Everything is going to be different” is so inspiring for the first hour or two. But what happens to most of us? Our heart starts racing, fear starts rising within us, we get overwhelmed, and we feel paralyzed.
Rather than vowing you’re going to “start walking every single day,” start with a more manageable, realistic and achievable goal such as “start walking once a week, every Tuesday.” After you establish a routine and it’s become habit, add two walks per week and so on.
Create a list called “How Can I Start to Make Small Changes to Get to Where I Want to Be?” Let your ideas flow and capture some small and specific changes. Now you have a list of actionable steps to draw from! Seriously, 10 minutes!
- Do an Overwhelm Purge
For 10 minutes, write down all the things that are overwhelming you. Then go back and circle the things that matter most. Create a new list made up of the items you circled. Recycle the original list or file it away for another day. Now you have a list of what’s most important you!
- Do a Deep Dive
Meditate on everything you are feeling for 10 minutes. You may even want to visualize yourself telling fear and overwhelm you appreciate their guidance and protection, but they can’t take over. Breathe, exhale and release!
- Repeat Your Favorite Mantra
Repeat your favorite mantra. The simple act of reciting a mantra can instantly soothe and calm you down. I like “I’m okay. Everything is going to be okay.” You have the agency to give yourself what you need when you need it! Let this empower you. It takes less than one minute!
- Walk Outside
Get outside and walk for 10 minutes. Studies show that walking is a very effective stress reliever because calming endorphins get released. I personally enjoy walking in nature because it helps me connect to something larger than myself. Enjoy!
- Feel Grateful
Write down 5-10 things you are grateful for. This simple activity can help gratitude rise from within you! We tend to focus on productivity and forging ahead. Yet taking the time to savor what we already have can change our mindset instantly. Don’t make it too complicated or overthink it. Time yourself and stop in 10 minutes!
After completing a Brighten Any Day Activity, reward yourself by doing something you enjoy! Play, socialize, daydream, or engage in an activity or hobby you love. Afterwards, you may find yourself feeling even better.
Did you find any of the activities helpful? Please share in the comments below.