How to Reboot Your Brain When It’s Fried
Wellness

How to Reboot Your Brain When It’s Fried

Let’s imagine a world where all our days are spent in a state of pure bliss, the universe bows to our every command, and thingsalwaysgo our way. We’re in such perfect control of our surroundings that the terms “stress,” “anxiety,” and “mental overload” are foreign concepts. Yes, nothing,nothing, can knock us out of our zen zone.

But that’s not life, is it? There are some great days, some good days, some bad, and, inevitably, some pretty awful, ones. And during those awful days, too much work, too much information, and too much stimulation lead to a mental state we like to call “brain-fry.”

Brain-fry is that confounding feeling when you’re so frazzled and overloaded with racing thoughts that your inability to function and think clearly is short-circuited. We’ve all been there. And, thankfully, we’ve come out on the other side. Here’s how:

Stop with the caffeine and reach for that H2O

Seriously, we’re all a little dehydrated most of the time. Our impulse to hype up our energy so we can justpower throughthat last project is often doing more damage than we acknowledge. If you’re feeling brain-fried, an extra dose of caffeine isn’t going to help you focus. You’ll just be jittery and over-stimulated when what you need is to slow down.

Make yourself unavailable

We know, we know. You have a boss that’s hovering over your shoulder and repeatedly asking for updates on your project. How could you possibly tell her you’re unavailable? Don’t say it; make it clear you’re busy. Politely let your supervisor and coworkers know that you’re stepping out to “take a call.” Then. Run. Ok, maybe not literally in that moment but, if possible, go to a room where you won’t be bothered for a while. Put some time on the calendar so that others know you’re “working.” Then, take the time do any of the next items on this list to reset.

Do a brain dump

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with a to-do list that grows every time you look at it, then you need to just do a brain dump. Grab a pen and notepad and download everything that’s swirling around in your head. Often times it’s the tornado of “to-dos” and the “if this, then that, and what aboutthat?”train of thoughts that can get us riled up and unable to focus.

Write.it.down. It doesn’t have to look pretty. It doesn’t have to be functional. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Just jot it down. Once it’s out of your head, pause and do something else. When you feel you’ve calmed a bit, go back and circle 3 things (max!) that you can focus on that day. Make a promise to not think about the rest until you’ve finished them.

Inhale, exhale. Repeat

It’s simple, but it works. There’s a reason every yoga class and meditation enthusiast talks about breathing as being key to helping you “be present.” You can find plenty of good breathing and guided meditation exercises online. But don’t worry too much about whether you’re doing it right. Just make sure to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth a few times, with each progressive inhale getting longer and deeper. Trust us when we say that 5 minutes is all you need for a quick reset.

Explore the neighborhood and smell something fresh

When your energy levels are low and you’re finding it hard to focus, fight the voice in your head that tells you that you don’t have time for a short walk. Or some stretching exercises. Or, for that matter, anything that lets youmoveso that your bones crack, your blood is pumping, and your surroundings are new. Go out and get to know the neighborhood for 10 minutes by yourself. Smell the flowers, if possible. If that’s totally impossible, remember that a few drops of an essential citrus oil also does wonders.

Set a timer and do one thing. Just one

Don’t fall for the trap of this thing people call “multitasking.” What people usually mean is that they have the TV on in the background while they’re cooking or they’re listening to their favorite podcast while cleaning. It doesn’t mean that you’re actually doing multiple things at once. Our brains weren’t designed for such nonsense. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll help yourself if you focus on one thing, and one thingonly. Set a timer and commit to working on one thing for the next hour. Mute your notifications, close those extra tabs on your screen, and do a deep dive into one small project that you can handle for the next 45-60 minutes.

If all else fails, cry if you need to

No, really. Sometimes all we need is an emotional release. Crying in front of your boss might not be the best idea, but if you feel the tears welling up, step outside, go to your car or find a bathroom, and let them run. We’re only human. When we’re feeling frazzled and overworked, it’s perfectly fine to have a good cry. Think about it this way: Getting it all out will help you to breathe more easily and return to your work without the tension and stress that has been tugging at you.