Feeling overwhelmed is an incredibly common experience in this day and age of work, commutes, kids, student loan payments, no family nearby etc.. Most of us urban Millennial adults struggle with overwhelm at one point or another.

And yet, one of the best tools for combating it can be the act of “pruning.”

What do I mean by pruning?

So in my yard here in Berkeley, I have these gorgeous, abundant fruit trees: figs, Meyer lemons, apples, and persimmons.

One of the things I’ve learned in the last few years of living here and enjoying their delicious fruit each season is this: pruning back the branches and blossoms, while seemingly ruthless to this newbie gardener, is critical if I want to enjoy the fully-matured growth of some of the fruit.

This principle — of cutting back or getting rid of excess so that I can ensure some areas reach full bloom — I believe applies to our everyday lives, too, particularly in times of overwhelm.

I invite my clients in times of overwhelm and overcommitment to reflect not only on what their reveries and daydreams are telling them about what they most need and what that might look like in everyday life but also the big question of:

What needs to be ruthlessly pruned in your life right now in order for that to happen?”

The reality is, each of us has a finite amount of physical and emotional energy.

Yes, proper diet, sleep, moderate exercise and other self-care routines can boost our energy levels to a certain extent, but the reality is we’re only human and we all only have 24 hours in a day.

So, I invite my therapy clients to consider that, given that their energy is finite, and given that they might want some of the proverbial fruit on their tree of life goals to mature, what needs to be pruned back in order to make sure enough energy gets to the key areas?

In asking this question, it can often bring more clarity to priorities and how they need or want to spend their time.

So let me ask you: What do you need to “prune” in your life right now? What’s the most important “fruit” you want to sprout and grow? What must you cut back in order to make sure enough energy goes to that “fruit”?

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