Written by Brittany Male MSW, LCSW, CADC
I can’t count how many times I have said, “Give yourself permission…”, to a client during a session recently.
Give yourself permission to be angry.
Give yourself permission to be sad.
Give yourself permission to be disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, fearful, resistant, confused, or even UNPRODUCTIVE.
I’m noticing that a lot of us are having difficulty making the adjustments necessary due to the changes in our world. A lot of us didn’t want to skip a beat when the stay-home-orders were initially put in place.
Things are not as they were. At least not for now.
We must adapt to this change instead of trying to force the previous routines, schedules, and expectations on ourselves and others. Follow the steps below to better identify what your needs are and give yourself permission to meet those needs.
Be mindful of the emotions you're experiencing that are causing distress.
Mindfulness is a buzzword right now - and rightfully so. That said, it is also not as complicated as it may seem so don’t be intimidated. Simply identify the emotion you’re experiencing and explore how it is influencing you in this moment. Could I be called a therapist if I didn’t include an emotions list for you to utilize? Next, think about where you are physically feeling this emotion, if anywhere. If you visually were to represent this emotion, what would it look like in color, size, texture. These are all questions that can help you more mindfully define your emotions.
Explore what is contributing to that feeling.
Ask yourself questions like: Have I felt this way in the past? Are there any other emotions that I’m experiencing underneath or alongside this emotion? Oftentimes we can experience multiple emotions at the same time and it can be helpful to figure out what we need when we identify them. Are other people’s behaviors contributing to this feeling or is it self-imposed?
Explore your needs in the moment.
If you don’t already have a list of coping or self-care techniques/activities/tools that you utilize, take time now to reflect on what those things could be. It is helpful to have this list already prepared ahead of time so that when you are feeling overwhelmed with a distressing emotion you do not have to think of what may help and can instead simply look at the list. For me, some examples of things on my list include lighting a candle, opening a window or curtain, putting on some music, and doing something that brings me joy.
Another important thing is that what may have been on your list previously may not be on your list currently due to the restrictions or because your needs have changed along with the times. While previously I would have included “getting out of the house” and “spending time with friends or family” as on my list, currently there are limitations to that. Additionally, I have identified that I have adjusted the shows and movies that I am interested in watching. Instead of movies filled with deep meaning and drama, I prefer light hearted and feel good movies and shows. There is enough intensity in real life right now.
Give yourself permission to make the adjustment and take care of your needs.
Although it may seem strange, I encourage clients to actually say the words, “I give myself permission to...” as a means of accountability to follow through.
After you’ve identified how you’re feeling and exploring what your needs are in the moment, it’s action time to give yourself the permission to give yourself what you need. Now more than ever, we need to continue to take care of ourselves, to say no when we need to, to adjust our expectations, to make changes in our routines and schedules, and to rest.
If you find that you’re needing more help trying to navigate through the current changes in our world, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a therapist. Our therapists are currently accepting intakes via Telehealth. You can find out more information by visiting our website www.OakHeartCenter.com or calling (630) 570-0500.
Written by Brittany Male MSW, LCSW, CADC
As a therapist, I often find myself talking with clients during sessions about similar concepts or issues. Not too long ago, the theme was “overwhelm” and although the circumstances may be different a few weeks ago, I think anyone would agree that there are plenty of things that we may find ourselves overwhelmed with. Despite not always living through a pandemic, it is likely that you, the reader, have felt overwhelmed. Here’s the truth: all of us experience times of complete overwhelm, and while there may be a variety of contributing factors to this, most of the time, the activity that I’m about to share with you can be applied, no matter the trigger.
The activity is called “Brain Dumping” and although I didn’t coin the name, I love using it in my life and sharing the idea with clients.
First, write down in a notebook all of the contributing factors that are driving your overwhelming feelings.
These may be thoughts, feelings, tasks, chores, responsibilities, etc. During this process, it is important not to filter yourself. In other words, don’t try to edit the list before you’ve gone through the whole process because otherwise it is likely that the thing you’ve edited out comes back into play, therefore creating the feeling of overwhelm again. This needs to be an unedited list.
There are a few functions of this task:
After you’ve made your list, start grouping them together into different categories.
Oftentimes when you review the list, you’ll find there are tasks to complete that all go together. This is called “batching”. If I have three things I need to do around my house, I would categorize all those things together so I can better plan for when I may do those things. Our ability to be productive usually increases when we “batch” similar tasks together instead of jumping around. That said, if you are someone who needs to switch it up, by all means go ahead and jump around from task to task. An example of this would be if I had work to do on my computer but after 30 minutes I know that I start getting antsy, I may plan to do some house work after those 30 minutes and then return to the rest of the work on my computer.
Next, take a look at each “batch” you’ve made and make a plan for each.
It’s difficult to explain this portion without knowing specifically what’s on your list. When I have clients do this in my office, we usually go through each batch and figure out a plan of when the client will work on this. By the time we get to this part of the brain dump, the client is usually feeling less overwhelmed because they realize that although it “feels” like there are a lot of things to do, ultimately after seeing them all on paper, they realize that there are only a few items that they can do in the moment. Creating a plan for when each item can be accomplished also helps instead of thinking that everything has to get done right at this moment.
Finally, focus on one task at a time.
Once you’ve dumped all the tasks out on paper, batched them, and figured out a plan for when each item will be marked off and how long it will take, it is important to focus on one item at a time. This is easier after doing the “brain dump” because you’ve assigned a plan to each task so you’re better able to focus on one task at a time. You cannot do two tasks at a time, this is a proven FACT (Feel free to read more about why in this article https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask) and you’re more efficient with your time if you focus solely on one.
It’s that simple.
Hopefully taking these additional steps can help reduce feeling overwhelmed and help make you more productive. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and would like more help, visit our website www.oakheartcenter.com or call us at (630) 570-0050.