When things are scattered it is easy to see them and recognize the situation. Toys all over the living room floor could represent not enough storage for toys in the room or a need to start setting boundaries. Work supplies all over your desk might indicate a really busy week or a big project you’re working on. When things are scattered it is easy enough to deal with them. We pick them up. Put them away. Come up with new solutions. We clear the space. When we are scattered, the solution is not always so simple. When we are scattered it’s not a physical thing. We can’t just pick ourselves up and put ourselves away. Scattered in this instance is a feeling and a state of mind. It’s an abstract. So what do we do when we feel scattered? How do we unscatter ourselves and move forward?
Feelings are tough to change. We feel them for a reason, even if we don’t always understand that reason at the time. Chances are good, if you’re feeling scattered now, there is an underlying reason for it.
- too much to do and not enough hours in the day
- life transitions (new baby/pregnancy, first year of school for the kiddos, moving house, new job)
- changes in family routines (new after school activities, new volunteer program, new school year, new needs in the family)
- personal changes or emotional stress
There could be many reasons for feeling this way. For many of us, it’s normal. When life changes in big and small ways our minds start whirling and it takes us a little while to adjust to this new thing. And sometimes, the reason is much more simple, our systems have just stopped working. Many times it happens a little at a time, in so many small ways that we aren’t aware they are failing until we find ourselves in this scattered place wondering how we got here. That’s ok, we can’t change how we feel. However, we can change how we think about what we’re feeling and we can choose the actions we take while we navigate our way through.
One of the most effective ways I’ve come across for helping figuring out what I need when I’m feeling scattered is to just let it all out. To ramble away without thought or direction. In other words, I dump it all out!
Just Dump It!
A brain dump is a great tool to use when your head feels crowded with ideas or running lists of things that you need to do. But did you know it can also be a useful tool for working through your emotions? Many times when I’m feeling scattered I’m not sure what is causing it. I don’t often recognize what brought me to this point and if I can’t see the what, I struggle with figuring out how to pull myself out. When this happens I find a quiet place where I can sit down and I write.
Brain Dumps for Those Scattered Times
Usually when people talk about brain dumps it’s just to clear their head of everything they need to do so they can focus better. This is a wonderful concept that works really well for many people. The act of writing things down allows our brains to process them and let those nagging thoughts go. When one is feeling scattered though, it’s not just a matter of getting that list out of you head, it’s a matter of clearing the air, so to speak, with ourselves. For those that want to give it a try, here’s what you’re going to do.
- Pick a time when you will not be interrupted. I try to allow for a whole hour just in case.
- Gather some paper and pens/pencils. A notebook works best so that you have a lot of paper if you need it. I recommend grabbing a few pens or pencils so that if one runs out you don’t have to stop to grab a new one.
- Yes it has to be paper and pen/pencil. Sorry all you digital peeps, this exercise works best the old-fashioned way. The physical act of writing engages the brain in ways that typing just can’t replicate. It might sound corny, but this exercise looses its effectiveness when done at the computer or on a device.
- Find a quiet place where you can sit and write comfortably.
- Start writing. Don’t think! Just write! Write the first thing that pops in your head and then keep on going. We’re not making a list. We’re not writing to share with anyone else. Everyone’s results will be different. Sometimes mine are a list of everything that I think I need to be doing along with some random thoughts about how I’m feeling. Other times mine is more like a journal entry, full of everything that’s going on in my head, heart, and life. Other times it could be a combination.
- When there is nothing left to write about – stop. I usually know it’s time to stop when I start thinking of things to write about. The idea isn’t to think it all through, it’s to just let it all out. Allow the thoughts and emotions to flow freely. The moment we start directing our thoughts is the moment we’re finished this exercise.
There is no right. There is no wrong. Let the words flow, allow yourself the chance to work through things without thinking about them. Dump it all onto the page. Clear the air in your own space. Allow yourself to start fresh. There is no judgement in this exercise. This is just for you.
This isn’t a magic fix-all but it really does help to calm the mind when it’s scattered. I’m sure those of you that are dedicated journalers know how soothing it can be to work through your thoughts and feelings on paper. For those of us who aren’t journalers, an exercise like this one can seem kind of hokey at first, but don’t let that stop you from trying. You might be amazed at what thoughts and feelings you see reflected on the pages you fill.
What you do with the writing when you’re done is totally up to you. Sometimes I read through what I’ve written and other times I just put it away. Most times I walk away from this exercise feeling much more calm than before. On this journey from scattered to sane, acknowledging these feelings is important. Honoring them is important. Finding our way through them – that’s our destination! We’ll get there. I know we will.
Now it’s your turn! When you’re feeling scattered, how do you cope?