“Why is my eye twitching?!”
It’s 5:45AM, and I’m lying in bed with my eyes closed. I’m exhausted because I managed to have one of my recurring nightmares the previous night where I dreamed my bed was covered in spiders—this happens once every few months, especially when I’m overtired.
It’s real enough to me that about 50% of the time I actually jump out of bed and run into the other room.
And yet, despite being sleep deprived, there’s no WAY I can go back to bed either. Because I have far too much on my mind. It looks something like this:
“ACK! I was supposed to call the dermatologist yesterday to schedule an appointment—it’s been on my to-do list for 10 days weighing me down and yet I can’t get myself to pick up the phone. Why am I so averse to talking to a human on a telephone? Just do it, idiot! Call them today at 9AM.
“Why the hell did I dream about spiders again last night? I have to write thousands of words today. And I have that awkward meeting planned stressing me out. OH **** I forgot to send my mom a mother’s day card! I did send her flowers. Is that enough? She loves cards. Can I express ship one in time? AHHHHH!
“Is that networking event I agreed to tonight or tomorrow night? Why did Past Steve commit Future Steve to that? I hate that guy! Wait, is today Wednesday? Sonofa, today is a training day at the gym too. Good luck finding time for that. Oh GOOD, I’m out of clean underwear. And the fridge is empty. And how do I have a pimple inside my nose? I would like to curl up into the fetal position and opt-out of all responsibilities today.”
They say depression is worrying about the past, while anxiety is worrying about the future.
Like many who read this site, I’m quite good at both of those things!
Even though I’m generally a happy person with a very positive outlook on life, life can get overwhelming at times and my brain likes to take over and shut everything down.
What the inside of my brain looks like: take my crazy stream of conscious above and read it in the style of slam poetry, while a Tasmanian devil plays the bongos with no discernible rhythm in the background. He then eats the bongo and starts Irish step dancing. To salsa music. While setting off fireworks.
The days where this happens are shitty.
And many shitty days in a row only seem to compound the problem.
I can get so overwhelmed that I can’t seem to make any progress on anything, and yet I know making progress on stuff is the fastest path for me to escape this maniacal prison my brain has trapped me in!
I am a logical, rational, scientific person, which means thinking through this logically, rationally, and scientifically makes sense to me.
And yet in those moments, emotions sit in the command chair and start calling the shots.
At this point, you are either nodding your head going “Steve, WTF are you talking about?” orrrrrr ”OMG I totally know what that feels like.”
I’ve been running Nerd Fitness for close to 10 years now. I’ve seen and heard it all, and been through some shit.
In that time, I’ve come to a few universal truths:
“Busy” and “overwhelm” are serious problems that don’t go away without a plan to tackle them. Having a Strategy Guide to deal with these scenarios can be huge.
Knowing that, I’ve created a personal checklist (yes, a real checklist) for myself of things I can do when I can’t seem to get out of my own head.
These ideas help me break through overwhelm—and get back to a more natural state where I can start making progress on tackling what I need to for the day.
And today, I want to share that personal checklist with you!