Do you ever feel like you have all kinds of “stuff” just jumbling around and floating in your head to the point that you can’t focus on anything? I call it spaghetti head, because it’s like having a bunch of noodles all tangled up together stuffed inside your noggin (plus I really love spaghetti).
I have chronic spaghetti head, and I’ve only found one cure. Making lists. There is just something about getting it down on paper that helps get it out of your head. It’s like yanking out each noodle and laying them neatly side by side. I suppose it’s because we are afraid we will forget it, so we just keep thinking about it over and over again, so once you put it somewhere permanent you can allow yourself to stop dwelling on it.
This might sound weird, but lists are very personal to me. For me, it’s the equivalent of having a journal with “read and die” written inside the cover. This is because I don’t just make lists of things to do. I make lists for everything! I make lists for the sake of my sanity. So I’ve decided to share a little insight into the art of my list-making, and 5 ways you can use them for your mental well being, and to combat that spaghetti head. Here they are:
1. When you’re stressed.
Write down each and every thing you are stressed about. This helps you tackle one noodle at a time, so you won’t be focusing on everything else you have to do. When we’re stressed we tend to keep thinking about the things we need to do over and over again (or maybe we can’t focus on anything at all!), but writing it down makes things seem much easier and more attainable, and hey, maybe you will realize it wasn’t as much stuff as you originally thought. That’s the beauty of organizing your noodles.
2. When you’re upset or glum.
Make lists for all the things that are bothering you. It helps you organize your thoughts into some sort of logical manner, and hopefully will help you work through your issues and cope with them. Having everything jumbled up in your head and thinking of it all at once makes things seem 10 times worse than they actually are. I have issues with dwelling on things that are overwhelming me, but writing it down always gives me peace of mind and clarity.
3. When things are piling up at work or home.
When I’m panicking about everything I have to do, and I don’t have much time to do it, I write down every single thing that needs to be done, and then I schedule each thing on a specific day in my planner. I usually do this in weekly increments. This helps me to stop stressing over whether I will get everything finished on time, and I can just focus on each specific thing (noodle) as I get to them. All I will have to worry about is sticking to the schedule. Warning: if you pile too much on one day, there is a big chance you won’t get everything done, and feel lots of stinky guilt (spaghetti stinks when you just leave it lying around), and then you will get overwhelmed, because things will start piling up again.
4. When you’re not satisfied with your life.
List out what you aren’t satisfied with, and then list out exactly how you’re going to change it. It’s easy to think you are stuck where you are, but anything can change with one small step at a time, and a focus of where you want to be. There is nothing like hope to change your outlook on life (God is a free flowing source of this).
5. When you can’t sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping because your mind won’t turn off, then write down everything that’s going on up there. Sometimes it’s incoherent and makes absolutely no sense (*stumbles around for pen and paper on night stand* “Must buy six pink sheep” *passes out*), but I still have to write it down or I’m not getting any sleep. I promise you this works for me every time. I think the main reason our minds won’t shut off is because we are afraid we will forget it. When you write it down it’s like ripping the thoughts out of your head, and pasting them somewhere else.
All right folks! That’s all the insight I’m going to share with you on the type of lists I make. The rest are TOP SECRET.
Oh, and guess what!? To further help you organize your noodles and lay them neatly side by side, I have a free printable for you (courtesy of my brilliant graphic designing husband). Just click on one of the links under the picture below for the size you want, and print it out. Enjoy!
Now go straighten out those noodles!