7 Minimalist Ways To Boost Success In The Face Of Soul-Crushing Overwhelm

image of a chair in a minimalist roomLet’s face it – you’re burned out.

Work is killing you. Your Kindle app is bursting with unread books. Your credit card is melting from the heat of buying stuff you want but do not need.

Worse, you’re constantly aware of how it all circles back to the job or entrepreneurial pursuits you need to keep the devil’s plates spinning.

Here’s the good news:

There are specific habits that can get you off of this endless wheel of unhappiness. They are all easy and mostly inexpensive to do. They give you insight into your situation and can spring you from the prison of burnout faster than you can imagine.

The best part is that these seven techniques are also minimalistic. There’s almost nothing to them. And the “zen of almost nothing” is a great way to get started dealing with overwhelm.


1. The Shocking Truth About Meditation


Daily meditation feels good and creates many benefits ranging from stress relief to increased creativity and improved critical thinking.

The only catch is that taking time for this simple practice can be difficult to remember. And that’s somewhat strange, given how good it can make you feel, even after only five minutes of practice.

One way to make meditation a regular practice you won’t forget is to place a mat beside your bed. When you wake up, sit for even just a moment to connect with your surroundings.

You don’t have a spend a penny on your mat either. Just fold up a blanket, and for extra comfort, place a pillow on top of that. In this way, you can keep your ankles off of the hard floor and give some balance to your spine.

Many people think meditation is difficult. But it’s easy to do and gets even easier when you approach it without a lofty goal, like enlightenment. As Alan Watts said, the best way to approach meditation is “sitting just to sit.”

If you can make this simple approach to meditation a regular practice, even with thunder and lightning jolting through your soul, you have a chance at developing better balance in your life within a week or less.


2. How Taking A Simple Walk Can Protect Your From Harm


Many hold walking as a form of meditation. But walking also releases regulatory chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals not only create pleasure, but can also help reduce any physical pain you might be suffering.

And you can make walking even more soothing for yourself. Take some MP3s of calming music that you resonate with and focus on immersing yourself in the sound and rhythm as you walk.

Walking Meditation works for improving focus and concentration

Match your movements to the music and pay attention to the feeling of the world around you. It’s only important that the music you choose reduces overwhelm – not increase it.

And if you are interested in meditation, take a break and sit on a bench in a park. Just to sit.


3. How To Practice Vegging Out (In A Positive Way)


Well, not exactly “vegging out” in the traditional sense.

Practicing Shavasana has a funny catch to it. You will always lose the game. No matter how good you get at the stillness, your body will eventually force you to move.

But in this game, losing is a good thing. As you experience the relaxing feelings of stillness, you’re also studying your impulses and your need to react to the same thoughts and desires that lead to overwhelm in other areas of your life.

As you practice Shavasana over the coming weeks and months, try extending the periods of stillness longer each time. You’ll find that by extending your reactions in Shavasana, you’ll also be able to slow how you react to overwhelming elements of life too.


4. Do This With A Pen And Paper Every Day


When life hands you a car crash, we tend to react to the overwhelm by piling on worry, concern and more stress.

The way around this is to buttress yourself in good thoughts before tough things happen. That way, you’ll have a reference guide to which you can refer.

To complete this simple exercise, get a notebook or dedicated journal and focus on writing down things you genuinely appreciate. Be specific. If you’re grateful to have a computer, list it. If you enjoyed the smile of a stranger on your walk, make a note of it.

And commit to doing this every single day for at least three months. Add these 5 Brain Exercises for bonus points, if you like.

Please don’t think this daily writing habit is silly or will itself contribute to your overwhelm. In 59 Seconds, a book by Richard Wiseman, the author gives scientific studies that demonstrate the validity of journaling gratitude.

But you don’t take the word of science for it.

Give it a try and you’ll find out on your own. Within as short a period as one or two days, you may find that you’re already feeling happier about your life and this new recognition of how things are for you will buttress you against future troubles that really can be overwhelming without a daily defense practice in place.


5. Have Two-Tiered Positive Goals You Can Achieve Now And Later


You’ve probably heard of SMART goals. They are goals that are:

* Specific
* Measurable
* Achievable
* Realistic
* Time-related

These are all great guidelines to keep in mind when making your goals, and they are designed to reduce overwhelm.

As a bonus to the SMART concept, my friend Daniel Welsch in Spain adds on two other components that work well. He notes two kinds of things he wants to achieve:

* Goals that cost nothing (like spending more time with a loved one)
* Goals that cost $1000

The former can be scheduled immediately. The latter can be worked towards and earned. It doesn’t have to be $1000, but the benefits of having a monetary goal in mind are huge.

After all, you’re going to work one way or another and saving up for a specific goal that costs money not only engages you in your work in a more meaningful way. It also lets you give yourself a gift for all that you do.

The trick is to make sure that your goals in and of themselves reduce overwhelm while leading to even greater states of calm and freedom in the future.


6. How To Make Your Favorite Poison A Cure


It was often said in Ancient Greece that the cure is always a poison, and the poison is always a cure. In fact, the word “pharmacy” partially descends from this concept (Pharmakia).

Computers are like that too. At the same time you can use them to achieve miracles, you can also let them run you into the ground.

Set specific limits. For example, no matter what, hit the off-switch at 10 p.m. and stick to it. Then go for a walk, sit on that bench and practice positive visualization based on your journaling or other ideas.

Of course, everybody knows that setting limits is tough, but the benefits of doing so reduce overwhelm and open you up to receiving so many good things in life that cannot be achieved when you and your brain are chained to a machine designed to bombard all your senses.


7. How To Reduce Overwhelm While Chilling Out With Friends


Social media has many positive aspects. But it’s not a substitute for real life contact. It doesn’t cause your brain to create any of the healthy and helpful chemicals that social interactions bring. And in fact, keeping up with all those posts and liking all those likeable links can bake your brain.

You also don’t get the challenges your brain needs while using social media. These include being asked questions and asking questions in return, complete with the body language and innuendo that only real life contact can offer.

That said, like meditation, social contact needn’t have a lofty self-improvement goal. It can be valuable in and of itself just as something to do.

But if you do want something specific to do with your friends, tell them about your minimalist plans to bring more balance into your life. After all, they’re helpful for everyone else too.

And teaching something helps you organize information in your brain, leading to streamlined thoughts and crystal clarity that also help reduce overwhelm in your mind.

So what do you say? Are you ready to get out of the soul-crushing loop that you’re in and bring in some new habits that will help you reduce overwhelm and boost your success? I hope so, because the truth is that you can free yourself from the suffering of burnout, one small positive habit at a time.

9 Responses

  1. Hey Anthony, some good advice there mate. The biggest problem is outside stimuli, there’s too much of it. Information overload! Chilling out is vital. Love the AW reference too 😉


    1. Yes, Watts is the man.

      Setting boundaries on what comes in has proved essential to me. I’ve mostly stopped buying Kindle books and gone back to print and keep it mostly to one book at a time. Then I give it away a.s.a.p. or take it to the charity book store so the clutter can’t take over. Works well to cut down the stimuli.

  2. I definitely need some of this right now. Being in a tech business the interruptions are there all the time and I quite often spend far too much time on the interruptions and not enough on the core work. Taking a structured break really does help to refocus and assess priorities.

    1. I can imagine that working in tech amounts to more interruptions and overall stimuli than many professions, Martin. Luigi posted in this discussion thread an app called habitica. It may be an interesting way to use technology to help make sure to take a break from it.

      On my Mac I use an app called Awareness. It rings a meditation gong every 45 minutes to remind me to take a break. I use the alarm on my iPhone to remind me to eat every 2 hours. Factoring in pushups and my standing desk and I’ve managed to lose a lot of weight in the last year and so long as I sleep enough, feel really great. 🙂

  3. Hi Anthony, I recently discovered this website which gives you an overview at how your goals and habits in life are progressing: it’s called habitica, it is structured like a game, and I find it very useful to help you take control of your life.

  4. Hey Anthony, thanks for the shoutout!

    I had this revelation about free goals and $1000 goals when I was turning some of my “bucket list” items into SMART goals. When I discovered how little a lot of them would really cost to do, I realized I didn’t have to wait for “some day” when I have a million bucks in the bank and no obligations.

    On that note, I just got back from Ireland. One of my bucket-list items I was able to cross off for a few hundred euros 🙂


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