Overwhelm is something I’m all too familiar with. Though I’m much better equipped nowadays to handle the stress of being a human, life still feels a little too hard sometimes. (Maybe it’s not really life itself, but the world we live in.) Since writing can be such a powerful tool for calming the chaos, here’s a list of lists to make when the world is way too overwhelming for your liking.
“If only we try to live sincerely, it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and also will probably commit great faults and do wrong things, but it certainly is true, that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.” — The Letters of Vincent van Gogh to his Brother, 1872-1886
Writing helps me decrease the clutter in my head, gets me out of my procrastination loop, and reveals what’s really going on inside. The simple act of putting my thoughts somewhere else (i.e. on paper, or in a blog post) unearths all the things I’ve buried deep enough to ignore for a while.
Since the tragedy of losing a loved one, I’ve had to find methods that unstick me from the terrible ruts I find myself in. I’ve known various ruts in my life, but before deep loss was something I was personally familiar with, I didn’t do much to help myself. Writing has always been my way out, but I didn’t consider how much of a necessary healing it was for me until the last few years.Writing can be a saving grace when we've lost touch with our priorities and peace of mind. Click To Tweet
As it usually seems to go, I’m not even overwhelmed because I have to do things I don’t want to be doing, but because I feel like there’s not enough time to do the things I really want to be doing. Sensing that inability to spend our energy on what we love to do can be a soul-crushing kind of sensation. It’s a burden many creative people, especially, feel time and again.
Writing isn’t just my “way out,” though: The process of writing (or journaling) both extracts the fear so that we can take a step back and see what’s really going on, as well as allows the space for new energies to enter into the picture. That’s a powerful recipe for positive change, no matter what’s going on and no matter what you’d like to see happen.
I make a lot of lists on this blog particular to healing and hope, so today’s post is a healthy collaboration of all the various lists to make when stress is warning us of a potential meltdown.
If you feel so inclined (which you might, since you’re still reading this), pick one of these lists to focus on today; keep them brief, with bullet points or numbers, and elaborate wherever you feel the urge to dive deeper. You might discover a belief that’s been causing all this chaos, or a piece of wisdom you never thought to take to heart before.
30 Lists to Make When Life Feels Chaotic, Knotted, Stuck, Twisted, Confusing, and a Just a Little Too Overwhelming
1. Pick an experience that was particularly painful or unpleasant while it was happening (start with an experience that doesn’t bring up painful emotions in the present, something you can accept); list the ways in which you’ve grown from this time, are grateful for the lessons, and/or now see a deeper treasure that was planted in the wake of the pain.
2. Simple pleasures that make life easier and more comfortable.
3. All of the inherent traits you love about your significant other, parent, child, best friend, new friend, or someone you see often.
4. The qualities, traits, skills, and/or habits you’ve picked up this past year that promote your best self; small improvements you’ve made, too, because they all count and add up.
5. Ideas for how you can take care of yourself—right now, even right here.
6. Achievements, victories big and small, and milestones you’ve celebrated this past year.
8. Gift ideas for the people you love.
9. Simple, random acts of kindness you’d be willing to try (if not now, someday).
10. The things that really matter to you: your top priorities, values, and preferences in life.Making lists is a way to practice what you love, uncover solutions, and activate new energy. Click To Tweet
11. The loved ones in your life for whom you’re grateful; as a bonus, and if you feel the call, include a sentence or two detailing why you’re grateful for their presence in your life or for what they’ve done for you.
12. Places you’d like to visit and travel to (if not soon, eventually and if money, time, and resources weren’t in the picture) and what interests you about these places.
13. Lessons you’ve learned this past year, or month.
14. Your favorite books, movies, shows, plays, or songs.
15. All the events, people, or situations you’re willing to forgive. (You don’t have to actually forgive them, though you could consider where you’d like to start.)
16. Your favorite words.
17. All of the elements involved in your dream home: what it would look like, smell like, sound like, and feel like.
18. All the feelings you want to feel.
19. Ideas you have for a creative project (sometimes called a “brain dump”): DIY project, vision board, home renovation, blog posts, journal prompts, scrapbook, photography shoots, anything and everything that lights up your creative side.
20. The hard times you’ve been through in the past that you somehow made it through; what/who helped you make it through.Don't underestimate your capacity to make something meaningful out of something stressful. Click To Tweet
21. Everything you can think of that makes you think of “coziness.”
22. Expectations and outcomes you’d like to let go of and entrust to a higher plan, power or energy; what you need assistance with. (My universe box helps me with this, big time.)
23. The specific details and features of your imagined “happy place.” (Mine includes a waterfall, a little island with a hammock, a clear blue pool of warm water, a field of flowers…)
24. Write a list of key life lessons you’d want your 10-year-old self to know.
25. Write a letter to your future self (pick an age) detailing the dreams you’d like to come to fruition by then.
26. Questions you would ask your role model, whether they are still alive or not.
27. The ways in which you enjoy expressing your creativity; what you love doing in your spare time, how you like to move your body, art that inspires you, etc.
28. All of the things you can think of that are too precious for a price tag.
29. The words of advice, comfort, and reassurance you would offer a friend who was feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or confused.
30. All the ways people have shown you love (in any of its forms) over the past year, month, and/or week.
Which of these lists are you interested in making? If you try them, feel free to let me know how it helped you feel differently and think differently about whatever is/was weighing you down.
Please share your lists or list items, what helps you shift your energy and gets you unstuck, helpful advice for someone else who is struggling with overwhelm, or any hopeful stories of change with me in the comments.
Give the gift of new energy to a friend; share this post with them to let them know you’re supporting their journey to the other side of stress.
Of all the lists to make, perhaps the most important contains all the ways you have loved and have been loved.