I looked at my computer screen the other day and I had six tabs open on my browser.
I was switching back and forth and my brain was trying to switch at the same time. It was really causing me a lot of stress. A lot of self-inflicted stress.
In a few hours my brain was mush, my thoughts were jumbled, and I was feeling jittery.
As I started to physically close the tabs in my browser, a thought hit me.
We need to close a few tabs in our life the same way we close them in our internet browsers.
Sometimes we need to shut off the news, shut of the TV, shut off the radio, and close the lid of our laptops. We need to turn off the phone, with only emergency contacts alowed to call us.
Then we need to walk away.
Walk way literally or figuratively. Either way we need to find silence, calm, peace and that might mean shutting off more than our devices. We may need to shut off the many voices in our minds shouting for attention.
Only when we close the mental tabs – one by one – can our brain find peace.
Sometimes we can’t close the tabs.
The windows popping up are out of our control.
Broken down cars, sick family members, finances, people we know passing away.
Those are the tabs we have to deal with, yes, but there are many times when we open more windows than we need.
Things like researching more than we need to about a variety of issues (health, politics, homeschool materials, recipes, diets, books, movies, etc.) being glued to social media, constantly updating news feeds, inserting ourselves into another person’s personal business, watching stupid shows, taking on more in life that we can possibly handle, saying ‘yes’ when we should say ‘no’.
It is the extra tabs we’ve opened on our own that we need to close.
Closing those tabs can be as easy as closing our eyes, taking a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and focusing on what is happening right now, in the moment. Shut off the television, the devices, remove ourselves from the craziness of our households for a brief time and find a quiet place to regroup. Regrouping could involve listening to a sermon and taking notes without distractions, listening to music or simply sitting in the silence and listening for God’s voice. That last one is a little scary, right? Sitting in the silence? Alone with your thoughts? Yikes. But being alone with our thoughts is often what is needed to slow our thoughts down.
Here is a tactic I learned from Emily P. Freeman (author of The Next Right Thing) to keep myself “grounded” to my surroundings:
Close your eyes and say outloud or to yourself your name, what day it is, what year, what time, where you are, what you hear, smell, feel around you, and what is the next right thing you need to do out of that that whole list that is swirling around in your head. Then take a deep breath, hold it a few seconds, and let it out again.
Example: “My name is Lisa Howeler. Today is January 28, 2021 at 3:06 p.m.. I am at home in my living room. The sun is bright and warm on my face even though it is cold outside. I can hear the television and smell woodsmoke from my woodstove. Right now I need to cook dinner. I will worry about the rest of my list later.”
Repeat it all more than once if you need to.
This helps — when I actually do it. Don’t be like me and just tell people to do this. Actually do it yourself.
You can do this.
And so can I.
I’m going to go close some more tabs and I encourage you to do the same. Let me know in the comments below which tabs you closed in your life.