It’s the start of a new year, and I feel restless. Post-the-holiday shopping rush from a busy December with family, I desire to spend time with my husband and my pup, Demi. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the holidays bring me the time to spend with close and distant family, but after all that time, I need some time to recharge and reset.
I can’t fully explain it in any other way, but I felt slightly different, almost conflicted. I was conflicted about the need to recharge in a foreign setting. My body and brain were signaling it was time to step outside our comfort zone. It manifested into a feeling of restlessness. My brain began to wander, and I daydreamed about going on short vacations, researching new groups in my community to join, and taking on new hobbies.
It’s as though after almost three years of distancing myself from new people and settings, my body and brain had used those three years to form the energy and comfort to get out of my shell.
I’ve gained this newfound energy and vigor to embark on new challenges and adventures. As soon as the calendar hit January 1, 2023, it’s as though my brain turned on and said, “alright, let’s take this year by the reins.”
I’d like to quickly check those goals and ideas off of that list this year, but some factors have gotten in the way. First, the timing and, unfortunately, extreme weather in my town have hindered my ability to get started. So I’ve decided that while some things aren’t achievable right now, I’ll focus on the things on my list that I can do within a reasonably set timeline and follow through with the others when the time is right.
Focus on small, manageable, and tangible tasks and goals
Part of my restlessness is my mind’s constant state of wonder. Because I’m a creative blogger, my mind always observes and absorbs new content ideas. If someone could read a transcript of my brain’s thoughts, it would look like, “I’d love to plan that trip to Nashville in the spring; let me research lodging for Nashville; what if it was a weekend trip? What restaurants would I want to visit? I should plan the itinerary and outline the blog post; and how about I start researching hotels and extended stays now” and so on. Before I knew it, from that one thought, I had ten different tasks on top of everything else I currently had going on.
If you find that you do this as well–content creator or not; I see you moms, college students, and full-time workers; we all do it. At one point in our day, we all allow our minds to wander and start “daydream planning.” Where we begin planning for that new job, business idea, project, or vacation in our minds during those 30 seconds were at the stop light or taking a break from that long email. But, we snap back into reality and exhale; reminded of what could be but can’t commit to doing—right now. It’s an overwhelming feeling of angst and restlessness.
To mitigate that feeling of overwhelm, which can lead to restlessness, I’ve found that to manage those feelings better, I’ve begun to focus on small, manageable tasks. That looks like me asking myself, “what can I do to make headway on my goals that I want to complete the next day or by the end of the week?” Then, I’ll set a deadline and only focus on that.
Then, I dwindle my list to only two tasks a day. That may look like dedicating fifteen minutes to a blog post and fifteen minutes to my data analytics assignments. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in fifteen minutes.
Telling yourself and, more importantly, your mind that you only need to focus for fifteen minutes makes the job or task you’re approaching more manageable and not overwhelming. And, often, those fifteen minutes turn into thirty, which then turns into forty-five, and before I know it, the blog post is complete. But, by framing the tasks in small, manageable chunks, I am setting myself up for success.
Focussing on mental and physical exercise once a week
Find new ways to exercise my body.
I conduct this one in two parts because it requires focusing on my physical and mental health. When I’m feeling restless, anxious, or overwhelmed by life, I’ve begun shifting my focus to the task that overwhelms me to do physical exercise. Doing this helps me clear my mind. And it always makes my body feel relaxed.
I’ve recently been doing hot yoga at my local Corepower yoga studio. Because hot yoga, especially at Corepower studios, requires a lot of mental and physical stamina, I recommend starting with one of their more yoga classes that include less heat, like their C1 or C2. Those classes incorporate more of a yoga flow and don’t use weights.
Finding new ways to exercise my brain
For this one, I’ve committed this year to step outside of my comfort zone. Reflecting on the last three years, I’ve recognized that my brain has been coasting. So I let my brain go on auto-pilot, doing the same routine: waking up, grabbing my cup of coffee, going downstairs to catch up on the latest news, then getting dressed and going to my computer to start work.
The most significant changes in my routine have been dedicating some time throughout the week, with no set schedule to my blog and educational courses. I need help finding the challenge or satisfaction in that schedule. So, by committing this year to step out of my comfort zone, I’m exercising my brain–a vital organ that I’d like to keep sharp and aware for as long as possible.
I’ve begun taking steps to fulfill that goal by getting out of my house. Recently, I’ve committed to volunteering at a co-working space once a week–giving tours and helping to keep the area neat. I’m also looking to join meet-up groups focused on learning new skills or an in-person book club.
Planning day trips or overnight vacations
From doing all the local community work close to home, my mind begins to wander, and needs some time to explore outside of my small city-town of Santa Barbara. But, with a busy schedule filled with educational courses, blogging, a tech job, and volunteering, I only have a little extra time to take far and extended vacations. Those long trips also require more money from my budget than I’d like to spend.
That’s where I’ve begun searching for places with activities and well-rated hotels within a forty to a fifty-mile radius of my home. While that may be only an hour away, sometimes heading an hour outside of town in any direction can feel like worlds away. I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of finding things to do in a city for twenty-four hours.
In summary, try these to overcome the feelings of restlessness and wanderlust I’ve described.
- Focus on small manageable tasks. Designate 15 to 20 minutes for two of the highest priority items on your to-do list
- Reduce your to-do list. Reduce your list to just 1 to 2 items you will complete daily. This will make a list and tasks more manageable.
- Exercise your body. Commit to getting at least 20 minutes per day or 1 hour per week.
- Exercise your mind. Commit to trying one new thing or learning one new skill, even if it means reading a book or magazine on a topic you usually don’t read. And step outside of your social comfort zone. Look for a new group or organization that needs help. This will put you in the presence of new people, faces, and perspectives.
- For wanderlust, plan a day trip. Whether it’s four, eight, twelve, or twenty-four hours, a getaway from your physical space is a great way to reset your body and mind. And it’s usually easier on your wallet.
I hope they work for you! I’ve you’ve tried any or have new ideas, leave a comment. I’d love to know what’s worked for you.