7 "life edits" for dealing with restless feelings

I am chronically restless. From time to time, the feeling starts tapping my shoulders, pulling at my earlobes. I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something, and I feel out of touch with myself. It is usually for weeks at a time, and especially in moments when I am in or near some kind of change. And it is here. It is persistent.

What I've learned from restlessness is that it is generally telling me I'm hungry for something, whether that be for connection or clarity or for a creative outlet or whatever else. It often comes from a place of overwhelm, chaotic feelings, and overstimulation. It shows up when I feel imbalanced and unfocused.

And it's not just me. As I've vaguely tried to describe the feeling, people have perked up and exclaimed, "I've been feeling that, too!" The sense that something inside them needs attention, the pull for both rest and action, and lack of motivation.

Here are some things that are helping me accept and embrace the mood:

Morning pages: By writing about 750 words or three pages of stream-of-conscious thoughts, I feel like I can really clear my head and set intentions for the day. On some days, this has also been really helpful for processing big questions...

... Like visioning for my business: I transitioned to freelancing full-time about 6 months ago. It has been a really meaningful and fulfilling shift, but there continue to be questions I'm processing in order to shape my life and work with as much intention as I can. Some of these questions that shape my journaling are:
  • What is my purpose? What am I called to do? What is needed? 
  • What so I want my days to be like? What do I enjoy? What inspires and energizes me? 
  • Where are my skills and gifts best applied? Where would it be most meaningful and impactful to pour my energy?
  • What can I feasibly hold? What does versatility look like paired with balance?
  • Where do I want to be in one, five, ten, twenty years? Who do I want to be? How do I want to live? What do I want life to be like, and how do I get there?

Knitting: I find repetitive activities incredibly soothing, especially with chaotic thinking and overwhelm. Having soft yarn in my hands makes my senses purr. I've started to knit for a few minutes at the end of lunch breaks and most evenings. Sometimes I can also knit while I'm on the phone, and certainly as I'm winding down in the evening. Planning projects for the #2023creativechallenge has also lit up my creativity and given me so much to look forward to as I work on projects over the coming months. It feels really good to channel into projects when I'm restless. 

Making lists: I'm a list maker by nature, and they feel especially good when my thoughts are flitting in all directions, looking for a foothold. Here are some lists I've been making or building on:
  • Project ideas (crafts, home projects, writing, organizing, etc)
  • Things I want to do, this year or in general
  • My commitments, identifying what I want to do more or less of
  • Habits I want to incorporate into more of my days
  • Persistent concerns or fears I'm experiencing and why
  • Work tasks to remember, sorted by type and priority
  • Things I'm looking forward to
  • Half-formed ideas to keep track of
  • A packing list for an upcoming trip

Changing up routines: I love weight training, but lately I struggle to get myself to the gym first thing in the dark mornings. Rather than force myself (or not go at all), I've embraced moving my workouts to later in the day when it's lighter out and I feel like I've accomplished some other things already. I know I'll eventually switch back to my AM workouts, but for now this is 🤌🏻

Therapy: I am constantly growing thanks to the support I experience in therapy. Not only can I voice restless feelings, my therapist also helps me pull apart what is underlying those feelings and process it. There are often a lot of things simultaneously contributing to why I'm feeling restless (e.g. choices I need to make; wanting, experiencing, or anticipating life changes; relationship dynamics; desiring creative outlets or a sense of purpose). It's really helpful to have support in identifying what's going on and why.

Understand what I need, and make a plan: The various outlets I have for pulling up what is contributing to my restlessness and processing it also help my to better understand what I am needing or longing for. I find it helpful to identify what some of these top things are and make an actionable plan. For example, I may notice that I feel lonely or disconnected from people. Examples of an actionable plan (pick 1-2)
  • Spontaneously call a loved one just to say 'hi'
  • Reach out to a friend or family member to make plans
  • Tell three people who are important to you what you appreciate about them, just because
  • Check out local Meetup groups - sign up and attend one that sparks your interest
  • Research local volunteer opportunities and sign up (searching 'volunteer [insert your city/town]' is a great place to start)

So here we are, leaning into restlessness. Keep creating, keep channeling. It is all beautiful fuel.

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