Has your mind ever been ruffled? Mine has. As a matter of fact…
…I’m stuck with my latest novel. I have spent the past three days racking my brain about the next step in getting the characters to where I want them to be, and keep coming up empty.
…I have several each of kale and Chinese cabbage seedlings that will be ready to plant out within the next month. I want to put them in the garden, but unless we get a really hard freeze, I will have to fight the grasshoppers for the plants. They already destroyed my first garden planting of kale this year.
…Self-watering planters for next summer: yes! But, the bucket method or the sub-irrigation raised bed method? If I choose the latter, that will waste a whole lot of trellis that J worked hard to construct.
In other words, my mind might be the poster child for “ruffled” right now.
“A ruffled mind makes for a restless pillow,” Charlotte Bronte once wrote.
I think if you’re over twenty-five years of age, your mind has been ruffled at least once. If you’re a woman over forty-five years of age, it probably gets ruffled on a regular basis.
This is hardly the first time my mind has been ruffled, and earlier in my life I’ve faced more ruffling events than getting stuck writing a novel.
Should I purchase a home, like my financial advisor is strongly suggesting? Or should I keep renting?
Is he my soul mate, or will I ruin my life if I marry him? (Especially since he wants children, and I *GULP* don’t.)
Wow, so we can retire super-early. Where should we live? How many acres do we want? Can we really be happy living way out here?
I can’t say that I’ve been losing sleep over either my novel or the garden. I have, however, lost a good bit of peace over the former, feeling like I’ve wasted my days over my negative progress. A lot of people do, however, lose sleep over big questions and life-changing decisions.
Their minds are ruffled. The first question is:
Is a ruffled mind always a bad thing?
Many self-help books tell you to think and speak positively. One single negative thought can destroy your life…at least, to hear certain authors tell it. Heaven forbid your mind be in chaos over a life issue you’re facing.
I understand that chronic negatively will only drag a person down. It will keep them from going after what they really want out of life. I get that.
However, to experience occasional periods of mental chaos is not only natural, but helpful. First of all, how could you possibly grow as a person if everything was smooth sailing all the time and you never had to struggle with a decision or wrestle with a problem? Answer: you wouldn’t. Wisdom comes from not having life handed to you on a silver platter.
Second of all, creativity comes out of chaos. This creativity is definitely beneficial to the person dealing with the ruffled mind. But the benefits can extend beyond them, and help others as well. Think about how chaotic Thomas Edison’s lab must have looked as he tried to invent the light bulb over 100 times. And don’t think he never felt ruffled over the problem!
So, a ruffled mind is not always a bad thing. But it can steal your peace, increase your stress levels, and/or cause you to lose sleep if you’re not careful.
How to calm a ruffled mind
That said, here are a few ideas to help you calm your ruffled mind.
*1. Let it go.
If the issue isn’t critical to your well-being, drop it for a while. Your subconscious has a wonderful way of solving problems when you hand them over to it.
*2. Get busy with something else.
I’m doing that right now. So my muse is feeling like a mouse on an exercise wheel. So what? I can write a blog post instead of working on my novel.
Can’t decide which apartment complex to move into? Or maybe you’re looking at a more general move: a new city? Shelve those apartment brochures, turn off the videos about the different cities, and indulge in tiny house videos for a while instead. Or arrange for a visit with a relative who lives on a farm. Something related to housing, but that will refocus your mind on something lighter for a while.
Not sure whether he or she is the one you want to marry? If you’ve been seeing each other several times a week, take a month off. Go out with friends instead. Or stay home and catch up on that hobby you’ve been meaning to get to. How much – and how soon – you begin to miss the person will aid you in coming to a marriage decision.
Maybe you’ve only ever seen each other in group outings. Time for some one-on-one, then. Maybe you’ve only dated once a week. Try going out in public every day for fourteen days straight. How you feel about the person after that will be very telling indeed!
*3. Do something fun.
Go watch your favorite kind of movie with your favorite person, then have a meal of your favorite food, and then go play some paintball. Play a couple rounds of miniature golf. Go camping. Or to the beach.
Find a the nearest karaoke night, and go sing your heart out. Watch a series of funny videos. Listen to your favorite singer, then read the latest by your favorite author.
Pick something that won’t break the budget, and go for it! Doing something fun opens up the mind in amazingly creative ways.
*4. Examine the issue from different angles.
To do this, you may have to ask for other people’s input, as it is often difficult to look at something that’s frustrating you from a different perspective. When you do that, you will likely start to get inklings of ideas that will give you more confidence that yes, you can make this decision. Even if you don’t come to a decision as soon as you would like, just having that confidence will restore your mental peace.
Be aware that examining an issue from several angles can actually increase your state of “ruffledness.” This is especially so if you get on an online forum and ask for the other members’ opinions. Should that happen, pare down the options given to those that number one, make sense to you and number two, “feel” right (or at least on the right track) when you consider them.
*5. Practice relaxing routines.
Create two relaxation routines, a short one that you can implement in the middle of a work day and a longer one that will help you wind down starting an hour before bed. The short one can be something like drinking a cup of fruit tea while you listen to classical music, or taking a ten-minute stroll while you silently pray or meditate.
The longer one could involve elements such as taking a bath, mutual foot massage with your spouse, and enjoying a piece of dark chocolate while you listen to your favorite music. Keep anything negative – such as watching the news or dramatic T.V. shows, or having heated discussions about family issues that can wait until the next day – out of the picture.
Be ruffled, but not overly so
Sometimes, your mind is going to get ruffled. And sometimes, that’s a good thing. But when it gets to the point of becoming a “restless pillow”, incorporate any of the five above ideas into your life, and watch your peace roll back to you like a gentle ocean wave.