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The main challenge that the 21st century brought to our civilisation is the excessive and constant stimulus that overloads our minds.
The overloaded mind, primarily caused by our physical and digital environment causes anxiety and depression on a global scale. Besides our jobs, we desire a strong social life in which we must experience everything we can, often making us feel left out when not engaging in any activity. This results in more stress, loss of productivity, irritability, insomnia and even depression. So, in this journal, we will highlight some easy tricks that will help you to recognise when you are overloading your mind and identify the cause.
Our lives have become busier than ever, we text while we’re walking, listen to a podcast while doing groceries, catch up on our email while queuing at our favourite coffee place, and during lunch, we check our friends’ Instagram reels. The impulses never stop. The root cause of an overloaded mind is the constant decision-making that is required for new information that we receive. Neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin explains that because of our continuous overload and overstimulation the production of stress hormone cortisol as well as adrenaline is constantly activated. The neurological and psychological consequences resulting from this overload have a severe impact on our well-being.
Basically, our minds have a limited capacity to process information and when there is no space left for more information input but we still get exposed to more impulses we become tired, lose our focus and eventually experience stress or anxiety. The easiest way to deal with this, simply put, is to wind down. However, before we get there we must break our toxic cycle and recognise that we need to give our brains some love. There are some common symptoms that give away that you are not completely yourself, but an on the edge, tired and irritable version of it.
The symptoms you should be looking out for:
You probably experience this on an almost daily basis. It is 3 o'clock, you’re at the office and find it difficult to read that important monthly sales report you are supposed to share your wisdom on by the end of the day. What do you do? You find your way to the coffee machine to boost your focus. Initially, this behaviour is fine, however, if you stretch it too much and keep adding on tasks and obligations you will lose performance, and eventually, become more agitated and stressed.
If you feel that small things in your daily life can trigger an overreaction or lack of patience, your mind is resisting new information and sounding the alarm bells. When you start wishing demonic curses on a bus driver that is only a couple of minutes behind schedule, you know it might be time to have a look at your mental state. Analyse the rationality behind your anger and you will likely find it difficult to find a solid argument for your behaviour. This is a very clear indication that you are out of mind juice and that your body is showing that through serious judgement on uncontrollable external factors.
Besides the mental consequences of an overloaded mind, the body also suffers under it. Muscle tension, headaches: back and neck pain and constant headaches can be the result of long term exposure to an overloaded and stressed mind. If you can’t find a proper reason for your cramps or muscle pains this might be a sign you are pressuring yourself.
Sleeplessness is another big signal that you might be overloading your mind
. Once all the impulses and rushing of the day are done your mind finally finds itself in a quiet environment.
The constant impulses and emotions that you have been experiencing will keep your mind at work even after you hit the sheets. This can prevent you from restoring your energy and eventually lead to more severe issues. A healthy before-bed routine can significantly help with this. Soon we will share a healthy before bed ritual in our journal.
Heavy breathing and pressure in the chest
If you are in an advanced state of mental pressure you might start experiencing severe anxiety - which means worrying about the future.
This often creates an agonising feeling, pressure in the chest and the sense of not being in control of what is destined to happen to you. This will add even more weight to a mind that is already busy with many windows opened. When you recognise you are in this state, we suggest you seek medical advice from a doctor or psychiatrist.
Given our lifestyle and environment, it seems impossible to avoid an overloaded mind. In a hectic society where we are constantly connected, multi-tasking, over-scheduled and surrounded by information, it is hard to become conscious of our mental state and recognise a disbalance before it is too late. If you are feeling irritability, restlessness, headaches, muscle tension, sleeping issues and/or anxiety, it is time you listen to the signals and give your mind some love. If you - while reading this journal - just realised that might need to tend to your mind It’s highly likely that you will quit your job to move into the forest. Fear not, there are easier methods to nurture your mind. We summed up some of our favourite tricks for you to become more aware of your mental state and attend to it before overcharging yourself.
Create ONE daily ritual
Part of Hippa’s origin story (read full story here), was the ritual of lighting a scented candle each day. This conscious action together with the natural fragrances of the candle helped Julia, our founder, to check in with her senses. This action should not be another problem to add to your to-do list but a moment you take, to just enjoy the silence - your mental state will surely present itself. Creating awareness that you need to change something that is not going well is the first step.
Another great way to clear your mind and organise your thoughts is by journaling. By writing down your thoughts you basically have a conversation with yourself. You will be able to ask questions to yourself which helps to discover what’s hidden in the mist. It especially helps with becoming aware of what’s the potential triggers that are overloading you.
Having a long list of to-do’s is generally not something that stimulates a relaxed mindset.
Start with those tasks that are important and urgent, the ones you can delegate or you can simply remove from your list. If you suffer from sleeping issues, organising your next day before going to bed can bring you a sense of calm and control. Also, writing down all the tasks you have at hand the next day before going to bed helps with dealing with the thoughts of your upcoming obligations, deadlines and hectic planning.
Exercise is a major player in tackling an overloaded mind. It primarily helps in 2 ways: it releases feel-good endorphins (endogenous cannabinoids) and takes your mind off worries by breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. This Mayoclinic highlighted study shows the positive relationship between exercise and dealing with mental stress. If exercising is not your cup of tea, simply going for walks, preferably through nature, can significantly help.
Appreciate your rest
Rest is healing. However, to have it be beneficial, you have to allow yourself to rest without feeling guilty. There is nothing as unrewarding as a Friday night you could have spent enjoying alone but instead, you find yourself feeling like missing out on your Instagram feed. By taking the extra effort to create a ‘special’ night just for you, you will find it more rewarding, comforting and healing.
We hope that these tips help you to understand when and why your mind gets overloaded and how to cool it down.