Do you ever have those days when your brain goes on hiatus?
You’re sitting on the edge of your bed first thing in the morning or sitting at your desk wondering, “What should I be doing here?” “What’s the best choice for this situation?” “How should I make the best use of my time today?”
And your brain just says, “Duh. I don’t know.”
It’s like your ability to make a decision, to choose, or to take mindful action has just been erased from your cognitive operating system.
Every option you consider feels like eating chalk. Every action you start to implement seems uninspired and empty. What’s happening? Why have you flat-lined?
I’m not talking about those days when you are sick or tired or PMS’y or stressed out. I’m talking about a regular ole day when things should be ticking along normally. But out of the blue you’ve morphed into a piece of dry toast.
I found this happening to me when I was trying to decide what to write about this morning (hence the topic of this post). I sat staring at the computer like it was going to tell me what to write. Didn’t work.
When I’m in these situations, and I try to force myself to choose or decide or act, every fiber of my being launches into resistance mode. A mental barricade slams down just as I’m trying to get some traction. All I can see in front of me is a giant slab of grey.
This used to send me into a mini panic attack. “OMG, I can’t think! I can’t do anything! I’m a loser, a half-wit, a lazy bum. An alien has visited me in the night and sucked out most of my brain matter.”
I felt panicky because I wasn’t accomplishing or I was stuck in limbo about a decision, so I couldn’t move forward. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Moving forward. Accomplishment. Get ‘er done, get ‘er done (as Larry the Cable Guy reminds us). Well maybe not.
I’ve had to accept there are days when I’m just not going to get ‘er done. I’m just going to walk around with a cloud hovering around my head. But I’ve found ways to make the best use of these fuzzy days and to acknowledge that maybe my brain is trying to send me a message — like “give me a break!”
Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever wake up to find yourself in the Twilight Zone? If you do, maybe some of my fuzzy-day techniques will work for you.
1. Stop fighting it
Just accept you are having a fuzzy, indecisive, non-action oriented day. Who knows why. It doesn’t really matter. It’s happening, so maybe your subconscious knows something you don’t. Maybe your brain needs to recharge. So be kind to yourself and accept that sometimes our “inner knowing” knows best. If you fight it, you are simply adding more stress and unhappiness to your day.
2. Talk a walk
Or a run. Or a bike ride. Just get outside and get some modest exercise. Get the blood pumping, the endorphins going, and your body moving. There’s just something about being outside and moving around that clears the head. And even if it doesn’t fully restore brain function, you’ll burn some calories and feel better physically.
3. Do mindless tasks
If you can’t think of something truly productive or make an important decision, then just clear your desk. Or load the dishwasher. Or clean out your email. Pick some simple task right in front of you that doesn’t require hard decisions or intense thought. You’ll still be accomplishing something, even if it isn’t the big thing you think you should be doing.
Use this time to read a blog or book or listen to a video or audio about something you want to learn or become more proficient at. Don’t put pressure on yourself to learn something complicated or difficult. But just read or listen and absorb what you can without stressing.
5. Borrow a brain
If you’re at work or somewhere you need to perform or risk the wrath of others, then ask someone you respect and trust to help you out. Just tell them you are having a fuzzy day, and you need some guidance on a decision or priority action. Sometimes it helps just to have someone tell you what to do without having to decide.
Sit quietly for 10-15 minutes, breathing slowly and watching your breath. Allow your thoughts to drift by without judging them. Continue to focus on your breathing, gently pushing thoughts aside as they arise. Meditation can calm and balance you and help clear your mind of the racing thoughts that might be blocking your ability to focus and function.
7. Do something creative
Give yourself an hour break and go do something creative, something you might feel passionate about. Draw, cook, garden, paint, play an instrument, dance, write a poem, anything that allows you to get in a creative flow. Whatever you do, don’t judge the creative process or attach meaning to the outcome. Just enjoy the relaxation of the activity.
8. Help someone
If you don’t know what to do for yourself, then do something for someone else. Offer to help out a co-worker or a neighbor. Write a letter to an old friend. Call someone who’s been going through a hard time. Spread a small ripple of good.
9. Write a list
When we are feeling confused and fuzzy, sometimes it’s helpful just to put it done on paper. Write down all of the decisions, choices, and actions you are mulling around. Just make a list of them. Organizing them on paper helps you organize your brain. You may not be able to take action today, but you’ll have the list handy when your brain revives tomorrow.
10. Do nothing
Whoa, what a concept. What if you took a mental health day. Go play hooky. Sit in the park and read. Watch a movie. Meet a friend for lunch. Allow yourself to have fun today without guilt or stress. Your brain will thank you in the morning!
What about you? What do you do when you have no idea what to do? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
If you want something really life-changing to do with your time, please check out my Path to Passion Course.
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