How to Feed Your Voracious Appetite for All the Things While Making Time for Balance and Rest

When you are so intense, complex, exuberant, and curious, learning your next instrument or your next language or examining your latest discovery, how do you assess your level of capacity, interests, and enthusiams so you know when you’ve moved out of pure passion into overdrive, over commitment, or overwhelm? How do you know when you are doing too much for others, volunteering on too many Boards, solving problems your colleagues don’t want you to solve, saying yes when you mean no, or burning out from years of hypervigilance and the desperate need to prove your worth?

(image from Unsplash)

How do you know when your rainforest mind needs to rest? What does rest look like for you? What about relaxation? How do you relax? Might rest and relaxation look different for you because you have a rainforest mind? Is there such a thing as balance in your life? What might it look like?

Now there’s a conundrum. Right?

As usual, with you, it’s complicated. There are no easy answers. But I have some thoughts. I always have thoughts.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote about how others (and you) might view your passions:

“You think a lot. Some would say that you overthink. You feel deeply. Some would say you over-feel. You love learning. Some would say you over-research and over-read. You have very high standards and expectations. Some would say you over-analyze. You are concerned about the future of the planet. Some would say you over-worry...But it is your nature to be living at a faster, deeper, wider pace. Your personhood naturally questions, analyses, creates, emotes, and imagines in atypical ways. Your drive to know, to understand, and to influence is vast. It is a difference in capacity. The rainforest has extraordinary capacity…”

So, how do you manage (regulate? recognize? appreciate?) the capacity and the joys of your multitudinous dives into your passions, while also managing (regulating, recognizing, appreciating) how much you participate with others and contribute to their wants and needs? What happens when you step over a line and your passions become obsessions (overdrive, over commitment, overwhelm)? How might you find balance, rest, and relaxation within all of the pandemonium hullabaloo hubbub.

Here are some ways to find answers. Choose from among the following:

~ Draw a diagram (or make a list) of your different activities and color code them based on fascination, obligation, or obsession. Sort out what you are exploring that gives you energy and what you are doing for others that you dread or that is actually unnecessary. Create a special design/color for the obsessions. These are the activities that exhaust you but you feel pressure to achieve at all costs. Look at your diagram/list and write about any changes you would like to make. If you feel particularly discouraged because your obsession category is large, there might be therapy in your future, so you can figure out the origins of the pressure and how to alleviate it.

~ Write a conversation with the part of you who loves the stimulation of all the things. Give that part a name, describe the part, and build a relationship. What do they want you to know? How might you make the time for exploration and experimentation? Read about multipotentiality and how it is a strength.

~ Write a conversation with the part of you who feels obligated to help others and has trouble saying no to opportunities that are not appealing. Give that part a name, describe the part, build a relationship. What are they wanting? Needing? Is there a way to get their needs met without sacrificing your well-being? Is there a way you can help them practice setting limits? Take one small step at a time so you can see that you are not struck by lightening when you say no.

~ Write a conversation with the part of you who is in overdrive and is pressuring you to achieve at all costs. Give that part a name, describe the part, and build a relationship. What do they want you to know? Ask them where the pressure is coming from. Ask them what they are afraid of if you don’t achieve at the highest levels. There is likely a lot to understand from this part, so take your time. If it is too difficult or painful, get help from a skilled practitioner.

~ Make a list of the ways you rest. What activities are relaxing for you? If resting or relaxing feels unsafe for some reason, write about that. What gets in the way of your choosing to rest?

~ Draw a diagram/picture of what balance looks like in your life. Put in as many details as you like. Your version of balance might look quite different from anyone else’s. How does it feel? Can you imagine achieving it? Make a list or draw pictures of steps you might take to get there.

Your rainforest mind needs to be active and stimulated to get proper nourishment and to flourish. Managing all the things can be both fascinating and overwhelming. Finding balance is a worthy goal. Times of rest and relaxation are necessary. And yet, because you have a rainforest mind, your processes and plans might not fit anyone else but you. Of course, there is lots of pandemonium, hullabaloo, hubbub (doncha love those words?) in the rainforest.

Ain’t it grand?


To my bloggEEs: Do you resonate with this post? How? Are there particular ways you rest and find balance? If you do any of the exercises, let us know how it goes. And thank you, as always, for being here. It means the world to me. Love always. All ways.

(Note: For more of these journaling suggestions, check out my latest book, Saving Your Rainforest Mind: A Guided Journal for the Curious, Creative, Smart, & Sensitive. And to learn more about all of my books, go here. Thanks!)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

11 responses to “How to Feed Your Voracious Appetite for All the Things While Making Time for Balance and Rest”

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  1. Clignett Avatar

    Oh, this post resonates alright! I’ve been there, burned out to the lowest point (and I do mean the lowest point, whenever you hit rock bottom there’s apparently another layer beneath it, and beneath that, and even beneath thát..), and just couldn’t find peace of mind, couldn’t find rest nor relaxation.
    Through years and years of therapy I’ve learned that there is a huge difference between the two (rest and relaxation), at least for me. Rest means a quiet(er) mind, relaxation means that my body and brain stop screaming at me to dó something (whatever that is, could be as simple as putting my coffee cup in the sink).
    Now, I either ignore the voices screaming and quiet them down by literally saying to them “relax, I’ll do it the next time I get up, so just be a little patient with me.”
    Rest, though, that’s a tricky one. I can rest by doing something that gives me joy, but I still can’t rest doing nothing. So I tune out my brain by either watching an episode of a series (thank goodness for recording and Netflix!), or (depending on the weather these days – rain, rain, rain, and hard cold winds) to take Indie out and see him play and goof around with other dogs. Active rest, I call it. Because it slows my brain down to the moments we’re in at that time. But when we get back, my brain is in overdrive again. Not really a good solution, apparently, for the long run.
    So.. rest.. my body just takes over and yes.. the past week I’ve been on obligated rest due to the flu, still not feeling well. Felt horrible, but couldn’t ignore it. So I rested, slept, had soups (which I normally don’t drink), snuggled on the couch with Netflix on. With in the back of my mind all the things I “needed” to do. But they were in the back, not screaming at me, so ignore, ignore, ignore. Problem is that when you start to feel a little better, the screaming starts to get louder again. Which in turn mean you do too much again, and your body protests, so fever and all the physically ailments return.
    Balance.. clearly I haven’t figured it out yet. 🤦‍♀️
    I talk to myself and the voices, that helps. The voices understand and have compassion then, and I have compassion for myself then. Not always, though.. I’m currently walking around with one eyebrow nicely plucked and shaped, and one I just couldn’t muster the energy for it. Tomorrow night perhaps 🤦‍♀️🙄..
    I blame the flu! 🤣🤣🤣
    (My father used to say “moeten is dwang en huilen is kindergezang”, which roughly translates into “forcing (yourself) is coercion and crying Is a child’s song”. Basically meaning both actions (or reactions) have literally no use whatsoever, it will not improve your life, nor will it help you to do the things you need or want to do. Harsh, but true..

    1. pprober Avatar

      Hope you feel better soon, Clignett.

    2. Hannah B Avatar
      Hannah B

      I really resonate with what you’re saying, clignett. Switching your brain off is the hardest thing. I’ve discovered boardgamearena in the last couple years. It allows me to channel my brains capacity into something inconsequential but intense so that I can switch off to everything else! It’s also why I watch so many crime dramas as my brain is occupied by working it out, and the screaming stops long enough for me to get some quiet and rest and relax a bit! Don’t know if board games interest you at all (not the monopoly kind, modern ones), but I massively recommend boardgamearena as a really positive way to shut your brain off. And very helpful when you have flu! Hope you feel better soon.

      1. pprober Avatar

        Oh, Hannah, thank you for this idea. It’s so helpful to share our more unusual tools, techniques, thoughts, etc. here because they are otherwise hard to find.

      2. Patricia Koch Avatar
        Patricia Koch

        I’ve found that studying Norwegian does the same for me. It focuses my brain on something challenging and fun outside of myself. That stops the screaming and tires my brain out enough that I can fall asleep more easily. And, like all us Rainforest Mind peeps, I love learning.
        I’ve also curated my social media feeds to focus on art, the music and people I love, along with videos and photos of Iceland, Scotland, Ireland and Norway. I’ve discovered we can train those algorithms. Once they know what you like, they will tend to show you more of the same. Then scrolling becomes another way to quiet my brain.

      3. Clignett Avatar

        Thank you, Hannah! 🥰🙏

        Oh, yes! I forgot that one! My boardgame mania is indeed one of the “tricks” I also use. Preferably the simplest ones, no competition, just stupid games really. What really helps is Rummikub, just simple numbers, random, and if I lose, I lose, if I win, I win. No pressure and no screaming brain 🤣🙈..

  2. Patricia Koch Avatar
    Patricia Koch

    Thank you Paula, this is beautiful and so apt, especially the quote from your earlier blog. Your work always moves me into self awareness and self acceptance. The latter was so lacking in my growing up, that I deeply appreciate your affirming who I am and who we Rainforest mind people are even more.
    I love the exercises. Even reading them, I can imagine how they would work.
    Thank you.

    1. pprober Avatar

      I would love to hear if you do the exercises what you discover. Thank you, Patricia. And thank you again for getting my book into New Renaissance Bookshop, face out! 🙂

      1. Patricia Koch Avatar
        Patricia Koch

        You’re welcome. If and as you can, please let people know that they can find the book in our brick and mortar store on NW 23rd. If they’re in the Portland area and want to browse the book in person before buying it, or just want to grab it off the shelf without waiting it to be shipped, it’s there for them.
        I’ll keep you posted on what I discover doing the exercises. And thank you again. When I feel most like an outsider, weird, different, based on both what I came in with and the life experiences that shaped me, which seems to be happening a lot lately, I think of you and your work and take heart. Thank you.

  3. Hannah B Avatar
    Hannah B

    Wow, this is unbelievable – what a co-incidence. My husband and I did a similar exercise last weekend where we ranked every activity we do on a scale of – 5 to 5 for Joy, Energy and Restoration. We felt we’d lost sight of what gave us joy, energised us and restored our souls. We’re both suffering from burnout. We were able to realise the things we love but which cost us energy and identify what we could do to restore that energy. The rainforest mind massively describes me and my husband has severe adhd, so our household is definitely pandemonium and there is a lot of responsibility on me. I will definitely add to our list the factors you’ve put above as well and re-evaluate. We just highlighted things we do as “escapism” but your points are great. Thank you! (yes, I built a spreadsheet and added formulae to rank activities and use conditional formatting to colour code them…!)

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh! I love that! Thanks, Hannah.