‘These unprecedented times’.
What a statement.
Between fires, floods, and global pandemics, does anyone even remember what the precedented times felt like?
This last round of Mother Nature’s devastation has hit our local Northern Rivers community really hard, and while I try to do my normal habit of movement with an open heart and positive intentions, it just seems a little fruitless.
The overwhelm is enormous.
Today, I am in floods of tears feeling the immense weight of this pressure, and wondering how the hell I’m going to do all the things for our XALI program.
Trying to keep my head in a positive space is very hard when it feels like the world is falling apart, we have children at home while both my husband and I are trying to work. When there are so many others who have been affected far worse than us. I find myself feeling like a failure as a mother and a wife, unable to help those who need it, and unfit to be going out into the business world if I can’t even keep my shit together until 8 am.
I question how I can inspire women to be the best they can be while I feel so incredibly useless myself. To feel like this leaves me feeling very vulnerable.
I know I’m not alone.
Overwhelm is something that seems to be everywhere – our lives these days have more responsibilities, more choices, and way too many distractions.
With overwhelm, space and time collapse, leaving nothing more than emptiness.
Feeling overwhelmed is not only dis-empowering, but also an exhausting way to live.
SO WHAT DOES OVERWHELM LOOK LIKE?
How can we harness the resilience that exists in all of us to overcome not only this round of external events, but also the internal battles many of us feel regularly?
Letting go of overwhelm starts with acknowledgment. Of allowing our emotions to exist and to recognise them. Here are some of the symptoms:
- You feel anxious about current and future events
- Your nerves are in pieces
- You feel like you can’t breathe, like you have no inner space
- The pressure to make decisions is almost unbearable
- You’re irritable, grumpy, and not taking care of yourself
- The weight on your shoulders feels enormous
- You’re constantly stressed
The first step to healing is to have awareness about how you feel. Only then can you shift your energy. So many of us live in a perpetually stressed state – acknowledging your overwhelm is the beginning stage of letting it go.
HERE’S HOW TO SHIFT THE OVERWHELM
Have the courage to stop what you’re doing. Stop the madness, the spinning, and the chaos. Give yourself the space to slow down so you can see the bigger picture and get a handle on things. Take a day or two to rest, to do nothing, and regroup. If I was talking to a good friend who I care about, then I would tell them to slow down take care and look after themselves. Why is it so hard to treat ourselves as we would treat someone we love?
Shallow breathing can contribute to anxiety. It upsets the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange and contributes to panic attacks, fatigue, and other physical and emotional disturbances. When you start to feel overwhelmed, finding a quiet place to stop and take deep, diaphragmatic breaths, counting 5 in and 5 out for 5 minutes will do wonders for your autonomic nervous system. Not long ago, I started practicing regular Wim Hof breathing – another style of mindful breathwork that has a long list of health benefits.
What’s most important to you? What are your life values? How do you want to live your life on a day-to-day basis? Look at the bigger picture of your life, and how you really want to spend your precious time and energy. Taking time to contemplate your priorities is key to having focused flow.
- LOVE YOURSELF
Are you a secret (or not-so-secret) overachiever? Do you feel the need to constantly prove, perform and produce? Sometimes an underlying shaky self-esteem is the culprit of over-doing and over-committing. Instead of understanding your own needs, you are constantly catering to the needs of others. The willingness to take time for self-care often requires self-love and self-esteem.
- SAY NO
We only have so much time and energy to use on any given day. If you’re always saying ‘yes’ to others, then it probably means that you’re often saying ‘no’ to yourself. If you struggle with turning people down when they ask you, then buy yourself a little time by learning to postpone giving an answer. If someone doesn’t need you to give an immediate response, delay answering. You can use a phrase like, “I’ll have to check and get back with you.”
- TUNE IN
Sometimes we get so lost in feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we forget about what we really do want to feel and experience. Refocusing your attention and intention can help you reset your energy. If I can’t exercise because my head won’t let me, then I set about juicing vegetables to cleanse myself from the inside, or consciously preparing wholesome, slowcooked food so that I can keep my body healthy. Whatever you choose, make it something mindful, purposeful and beneficial.
Write a list. Putting things down on paper is a very powerful activity to regain focus. In my experience, I have found list making to be one way that I can gain some control and offset some of that overwhelming chaos. And crossing tasks off the list is bliss!
REGATHER AND RECOVER
Being overwhelmed is not permanent — it’s a state of consciousness that limits your freedom and happiness. To shift it requires a shift in perspective. Often, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re over-thinking everything that needs to get done and you’re no longer present.
Instead of seeing the things outside of you having power over you, be willing to stop and regather yourself. Bring yourself back to the present moment.
Remember that you have a choice about the way you want to feel.