Stress loves mental clutter. As the pile of clutter grows in a person’s mind, stress becomes more powerful. The clutter creates confusion, making it difficult to see the important things, the things that a person needs to do. The confusion creates doubt and lowers self-confidence, creating more stress. The growing stress robs a person’s energy. Lower energy leads to inaction, procrastination. Inaction creates greater mental clutter.
Mental Clutter>>Confusion>>Doubt>>Stress>>Fatigue>>Less Action>>Greater Mental Clutter>>Greater Confusion>>Greater Doubt>>Higher Stress>>Greater Fatigue>>More Procrastination>>so goes the cycle.
Write about it. When I am feeling stressed about something, writing takes the power from the anxiety. Just putting something on my calendar or task list helps clear my mind, but the thought of an upcoming event can still make me feel stress.
Therefore, I can name the problem and write it down. For example, I might write, “I am afraid that I will miss my flight.”
Then I can write a solution. “I will make my flight, because I will go to the airport early and read a book until my flight boards.”
A more complex example is how one of my friends prepares lectures he gives to other doctors. Speaking to a public audience is stressful for nearly everyone. Imagine a speaker with a cluttered mind. Just picking and sticking to a topic is difficult. Even if you have never spoken to an audience, imagine the pain of living in anxiety before speaking.
My friend is an expert in his field of medicine. The first time he gave one of his lectures, just thinking about the presentation made him nervous. As he spent more he thinking about speaking to an audience, he became more nervous.
He wrote, “I am nervous about giving this presentation to a group of doctors.”
Then he outlined what he wanted to say. It occurred to him that he was not the subject of the presentation. His knowledge was the subject. He began to see his audience as people who needed the information that he could give them. He could help them become more successful in their medical practices through learning what he had to say.
He focused on writing out the details that would benefit his audience the most. As he wrote, he gained confidence. He saw the value in his knowledge.
Instead of writing that he is nervous, he writes, “What is the most important information I can give my audience during the time I have?”
He has given the lectures for over a decade. He continues to update his presentations. His ideas are current, relevant. New audiences need his knowledge as much as the first audiences did. He keeps his mind clear by sweeping out the clutter and doubt through preparation, writing out his presentations.