Choose the Meaningful Over the Urgent

Have you ever had so much to do that you didn’t know where to start or what to do first? Sometimes you can get organized by making a to-do list. But often, when you have too many things to do, you can feel overwhelmed. You can become paralyzed and end up doing not much of anything at all. One way to move beyond this feeling of being stuck is to pause and focus on the present moment. This can help to calm your mind and allow you to think more clearly. Life coach, founder, and CEO of the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute Valerie Burton believes that the key is to turn off your autopilot and take control of your thoughts. In this short video (about 3 ½ minutes), she demonstrates three very simple things you can do to feel calmer and increase your ability to focus. In a very soothing voice, she explains the following strategies:

1. Simply pause and breathe. Sixty seconds of pausing and breathing will slow everything down and help you get your thoughts into focus. Once you feel more settled, it will be easier to know what to do next.

2. Put your two feet on the ground. When you pause and plant your feet firmly on the ground or floor beneath, you start to feel a bit more grounded. Take a few deep breaths, straighten your back, lift your head and feel how firmly the ground on which you are standing supports you.

3. Take in the sounds around you. Close your eyes and just listen. Take in the sounds you normally pay no attention to. It is an intentional way to come back to the present moment when your thoughts of the future and past are swirling in your head. When you do this, stress dissipates. Your nervous system calms. Your thoughts slow down.
Burton says that after trying these simple techniques, you should feel a sense of calm. You can then “see above the overwhelm and identify your next (or first) best step.”