Find Your Brain’s Dimmer Switch

This week was a particularly busy one for me. Normally my days are quiet, spent mostly doing work, going for walks, making food, and seeing my friends. This week felt more harried: parties to go to, extra work to finish, meetings, meetups, late nights. I’ll be the first to tell you that not getting enough sleep is no bueno for my mood or personality, and so the second half of the week especially felt chaotic in my head, even though it may not have seemed so to an outsider.

Find Your Brain's Dimmer Switch >> Life In Limbo

Yesterday right near the end of my work day I ran into my musician friend Gabe, who was on his way to play a set with his friend Angie at our local pub. Once I finished up my work I went, sat alone, had a drink, and quietly listened to the music. I slowly but surely turned my brain off, untethered myself from my phone (the reception in that place is terrible), eased back into my chair and into the weekend.

Even though I had been planning to go home and crash right after work, it turns out that listening to live music played by my friends was exactly what I needed. In fact, I think if I had gone straight home, I wouldn’t have dimmed that noise in my brain as much: I still would have been in Constant Checking Mode, still would have been ruminating about work projects, still would have felt rushed. Instead, I physically paused on my way home, which let my brain pause too.

Since starting to work as a full-time freelancer, the ideas of balance, rest, cycles of restoration, and quiet have become so much more salient to me. When you’re in charge of your schedule, it always becomes pretty apparent when you’re not making time for what matters, or if you’re letting yourself become overwhelmed. Finding ways to keep things quieter to begin with is really helpful, but finding ways to rest and restore when it’s a busier, more stressful week is important too.

For me, these things are simple and usually free or very cheap:

  • Watching a funny TV show (current faves: Rupaul’s Drag Race and Life in Pieces)
  • Reading a book that absorbs me (re-reading is also great for this)
  • Talking to a friend in person or on the phone
  • Going for a long walk outside with my phone in Do Not Disturb mode
  • Meditating: I meditate each morning, but some days I need to do another five minutes later on

What do you do to dim the noise in your brain after a busy day? (Seriously: please tell me, I need to know!)

  • Laura Em

    Hi! I struggle with this as well, the feeling of still being in Constant Checking mode and thinking and trying to solve problems is definitely something I have experienced. As well as the things you mentioned -except I watch youtube videso instead of tv-, I love writing, lettering, singing along to ’90/00 lyrics videos on youtube, baking or simply making some tea (which reminds me of this Caitlin Moran quote “Always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.”). Baking and lettering make me feel like I’ve started and completed a -very small- project, which is the opposite of what happens with work projetcs, which are always long and complicated.

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about having a creative project and/or challenge, something like NaNoWriMo, and I think that would be a great brain dimmer tool. May I ask, has this blogging challenge helped?

    • Hahaha I love that quote! So true, and so funny because it really is amazing how often I confuse the two! Love all these ideas, especially the lettering. I like to mess around with paints and you’re right – it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

      The blogging challenge has both helped and not helped, if I’m honest. It’s great to have a space to pause and reflect, but on busy days it feels like yet another thing to remember, so can be stressful in a way. If I carve out enough time to sit down and do it calmly, then yes it definitely helps!

      • Laura Em

        I see what you mean! Thanks :)