Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed? Maybe occasionally, maybe more often? As we move into a new season within the reality of the COVID pandemic, it’s easy to feel like it’s all too much. Things are still uncertain and subject to change at any moment. Conflicting opinions and beliefs about our current reality cause stress and many emotions.
Finding calm can be next to impossible when you have a million thoughts swirling around in your head. It’s stressful when you have so many details going on inside your brain. These rambling, disorganized thoughts are always with you and it can seem like there’s no escape. Here’s one simple trick that can help you to overcome that helpless feeling. It’s called a brain dump, and it truly is as easy as it sounds. Using this technique relieves the pressure of an overcrowded mind.
What is a Brain Dump?
A brain dump is simply taking what’s in your brain and transferring it to another place. This place can be onto a piece of paper or into digital form like a computer app or word processing program. What’s important is that you clear your mind of all the clutter so that you can think clearly again. Dumping the excess thoughts and information from your brain to a different storage location frees up valuable space. It also unloads a heavy burden and diminishes your feeling overwhelmed. You’ll feel a lot freer once you’ve experienced this process.
When to do a Brain Dump
Consider doing a brain dump at any of these times:
- When you feel lost, confused, or like your life has no direction.
- When you are under a lot of stress or your anxiety is worsening.
- When you feel out of control in your life and you don’t know how to gain control back.
- When you have been living a chaotic or disorganized life.
- When your ideas are getting lost among the other thoughts.
- When your to-do lists are too long, and you can’t keep up with them.
- When you start becoming irritable or moody for no other good reason.
Benefits of a Brain Dump
Benefits to performing a brain dump include:
- Clearing your head. Just seeing the information in front of you gives you a sense of control over it. Your brain is cleared, kind of like a computer cache. There’s now more room in it so that it will function better.
- Allowing you to see options. Once you have taken all those thoughts from your head and placed them in a place where you can see them, you then have a lot of options. Information is far easier to sort when it’s right in front of you than when it’s swirling around in your mind.
- Helping you organize what you have extracted. You can now organize information into a format that makes sense, process things and make plans. Now it’s much easier to manage all the components of your life. It will be easier to gain focus and to be more productive in your home and work situations.
How to do a Brain Dump
Performing a brain dump to reduce your feeling overwhelmed
First, choose your format. If you prefer pen and paper – perhaps in a journal – that’s great. Writing things down by hand can be therapeutic, and it can help you to retain information. Perhaps you prefer using an electronic tool, which also offers benefits and gives you digital records.
I’ve written previously about using mind-mapping a way to declutter your mind and reduce overwhelm: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-mind-mapping-to-declutter-your-brain/ You may explore that and other possibilities and then decide.
Second, set aside some quiet time, at least half an hour. Write down everything that’s in your head: thoughts, feelings, frustrations, responsibilities, stresses, etc. Keep going until you can’t think of anything else. Try to use the time you’ve allotted, but don’t frustrate yourself if you truly can’t think of more.
Third, come back to the information later to categorize and organize it in a way that makes more sense. What’s important is that you remove the clutter from your mind, and then find a way to organize and process it all. Here are some suggestions of categories to include as you sort.
To aid in clearing the clutter, include 1) a “parking lot” category where you place thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc. that you want to set aside for now. You can review them later to see if you want to do anything with them. 2) a “discard” category where you dump things that are extraneous, destructive or just the lowest of priority.
To capture useful ideas, thoughts and possibilities, use one or more categories like ideas, projects, priorities, etc. If you would like a FREE downloadable and printable Idea Journal to facilitate this, go here:
Some people choose to do this when they feel a clear need, as described above. Others find it good weekly practice, which can keep things from building up so you are feeling overwhelmed. Once you have done this at least once, you will be able to see what might work best for you. You’ll find you feel more refreshed and can think more clearly after your brain dump session.
Amazon has a selection of brain dump notebooks, notepads, journals, etc. Brain Dump if you’d like more tools.