For a very long time we’ve been on a hurry to get things done, worrying and running at a very fast pace, especially if we are speaking about living in the city. We are constantly forced to prioritize our errands, but this isn’t always possible due to unexpected things that might occur which we didn’t expect.
Additionally, we are not able to cope with the pressure of our environments effectively and at the same time think about our own personal worries. This happens because both cognitive processes happen in the same part of the brain, the temporal lobe.
For example, if we have just had a fight or a misunderstanding with someone very close to us, while leaving the house we might have difficulty in finding the car keys. This cognitive overload which may occur after an emotional challenge such as the one described above, comes from our incapability to balance tasks which may in fact be very simple. In this situation, the emotional load we are experiencing is what makes us feel immobilized. For us to understand how much of this pressure we can actually tolerate, it is important to be able to listen to ourselves. This is possible only when we quiet down and really listen to ourselves in order to understand the emotions we are experiencing.
Since we are unable to deal with more than one task at a time, we find ourselves constantly working by completing one after another by prioritizing them. At the same time, we are expected to have a good understanding of the whole situation without missing any details.
A mental overload for years in which we are constantly supposed to remember everything and deal with all these errands effectively, creates that feeling of “I always have to think of everything”. The stress and fatigue which occurs hinders the function of the temporal lobe. As a result, we are unable to prioritize our tasks effectively and this makes it difficult for us to act. Every effort we make to compete a task, makes us feel like we are making the wrong choice among the other tasks waiting for us. This leads to the phenomena of “ego depletion” in which we are so tired mentally that we simply cannot decide on anything.
Therefore, it is very important for us to deal with this problem effectively when we are in a calm state. A good time to do this is in the morning while having our morning cup of coffee. Before beginning our day, we can organize our tasks and prioritize them effectively without feeling any pressure. We can also write them down on a piece of paper if that suits us best. This way we are making a list with what is most important to us.
The mental peace of each person depends on the balance he/she creates among nine areas of life.
Those areas are the following:
- The affection and love that comes from our spouse/partner.
- Our family life.
- Our social life.
- Our professional life.
- Our personal content.
- A healthy life style.
- The ability to deal effectively with every day tasks, financial matters, errands and more.
- Our self-realization through enhancing our self-esteem, creating a positive self-image and trusting ourselves.
- Helping others and offering support through volunteering and sharing.
Through understanding these areas, we can recognize our needs and this way it is easier to make a list of our priorities that suits us best.
Summing up, I would like to point out that we are not forced to run at the pace of such a fast rhythm of life. Instead it is essential that we develop a deeper understanding and a proper alertness in order to live a fulfilling and happy life.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist