The Mental Habit of Feeling Rushed and Overwhelmed

You’ll mess up, but that’s OK.

You’ll mess up, but that’s OK. Pexels

As we dive into the holiday season, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, rushed, even irritated by family members and others around us.

I’d like to encourage you to try a mindfulness practice.

Here’s the practice:

  • Notice each time you feel rushed, anxious or overwhelmed. Try to develop an awareness of it throughout the day. The sooner you can catch it, the better. Make it a game: try to see it when it happens, as often as you can.
  • When you feel rushed, catch yourself and pause. Notice your mental habit of rushing, rushing to the next thing. Don’t let yourself waste your time with that habit. Instead, try building a new mental pattern: pausing, relaxing with the feeling that’s in your body, and then doing the single task in front of you, letting that be your entire world. Trust that you’ll be able to handle the next task after it without worrying about it right now. Enjoy the doing of the task in front of you.
  • When you feel anxious, catch yourself and pause. Notice your mental habit of letting anxiety carry you off into a chain reaction of worry. Don’t let yourself waste your time with that habit. Instead, try building a new mental pattern: pausing, relaxing with the feeling that’s in your body, and then trusting that you can handle the uncertainty in front of you. Embrace the uncertainty and smile at it, relaxing into it.
  • When you feel overwhelmed, catch yourself and pause. Notice your mental habit of thinking about all you have to do and feeling anxious about being able to do it all. Don’t let yourself waste your time with that habit. Instead, try building a new mental pattern: pausing, relaxing with the feeling that’s in your body, taking things one task at a time, breathing and enjoying that task. Trust that you’ll be able to do everything you need to do, and that you’ll be OK.

This is the practice. As you can see, it’s basically the same for all three (related) mental patterns, and it takes practice. You’ll mess up, but that’s OK. Smile and enjoy the practice.

Leo Babauta is the creator of Zen Habits, where this post originally appeared.

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