An effective way to manage your stress

Is your stress growing?

Bit by bit, it can feel like a ball rolling downhill, hitting rocks at random intervals. You’re in your bathroom and you’ve run out of toilet paper - gotta pick toilet paper up - then you get a text reminding you of your best friend’s birthday dinner - gotta run to the mall and buy a present! - and on top of that, there are a million things you have to clean or buy or do or say or watch.

All these stimuli can grow into a giant stress ball that ends up taking much more space in your head than you’d like to admit.

In honour of Mental Health Week, we are going to share with you a stress-relieving solution that will help you deal with stress because when stress is not dealt with accordingly it can lead to anxiety and other mental illnesses.

Why you need to try a brain dump

Let me tell you something about a brain dump - it’s fast, it’s simple and it works.

A brain dump is essentially a way to clear up all those “important but not urgent” tasks that ping around your brain but don’t rise to the top of your task list. Usually, these tasks usually don’t have an attached deadline which is exactly why you haven’t done them yet.

The only way to clear this space is to get them all down - on a piece of paper, a post-it note, a Word document or on your phone.

Think of it like journaling except a little less journaling and more like excavating.

Here’s how to start your own brain dump

Take a piece of paper - or grab your device - and sit down when you have a 15-minute window to commit.

Start by listing every random thing that you’ve been telling yourself you should do. Big or small - it all goes down - things that are undone, things that you don’t know how to do, work tasks, life tasks, etc.

Write it all down.

Your list might be very long (ours usually is), but every time we do a dump we look at the list and think - we’ve just cleared A LOT of mental health space.

Need help getting started? Here are a few examples:

  • Organize dresser

  • Research a cheaper cellphone plan

  • Clean out humidifier

  • Reconnect with that old friend

  • Find a new dentist (and then book a cleaning)

Now your turn…

What next?

Now that you have your monstrous, master list, you get to tame it.

Look at which tasks involve physical place (i.e. you need to go somewhere else to do it) and which are digital (i.e. through a website, platform or app you can log into).

Now group them into three categories: Home, Digital and Errands.

My dresser and humidifier fall into the home category. Researching a cheaper cellphone plan and finding a new dentist fall into the digital category and reconnecting with that old friend involves me going outside into the world - an errand.

Then think about the steps for each of these. Now rewrite your vague tasks as more specific ones - “Ask a friend who works for a mobile company what promotions or plans they have this month.”

Or you can separate your tasks by time - for example, organize dresser and cleaning out humidifier might take you an hour. Make that hour a “power hour”. Gretchen Rub calls power hour a highly effective tool for getting a bunch of (usually annoying) stuff done as quickly as possible. For example, you can listen to an hour-long podcast while knocking those tasks off your list.

By gauging how long tasks will take (put a number next to them) - then you’ll realize that those two “home tasks” will only take a half hour total.

That’s definitely doable.

Make it a habit

Ensure that you give yourself a brain dump whenever you need to — or keep it ongoing with all your tasks. Little secret: once you start the brain dump, you won’t be able to stop.

You can even schedule it in your calendar - why not setup a recurring event every Friday afternoon?

This can help you enter every weekend with a clearer mindset, and an even clearer Monday morning.

Need a virtual thought journal? Sign up for our 7-day free trial to grab your thought journal.

Noor Aubaid