“At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.” ~Christine Mason Miller
A while back I was completely overwhelmed. I was drowning in conflicting work commitments, our son’s crazy end of term schedule, over-commitment to a volunteer role, and a pounding headache I just couldn’t shift. Everything was about to go seriously pear-shaped if I didn’t do something stat!
Now, if you knew me you’d know I am a “fixer.” So, because I fix things all the time (usually for other people!) I decided to book myself in for a massage, stocked up on nearly every green vegetable I could, and did as much meditation as my highly-strung body would allow.
But none of these things seemed to work. I think I was so highly wired, so caught up in the craziness, the “hurry up and work already!” mindset that I was pressuring myself to calm down—and just couldn’t.
I knew I needed more than a quick fix. I needed some serious time off, away from my desk, away from the chaos, to work out what it was I really wanted from this crazy life, and to calm down.
So what did I decide to do? And what could you do if you’re feeling like me?
1. Get off the roller coaster.
Easier said than done right? Why is it that overwhelm hits at the most difficult time for us to take time off? Work, family responsibilities, volunteer roles—as much as they bring joy, love, and contentment to our lives, they can get in the way and make it hard of get off the rollercoaster.
But what if you gave it a try? What harm could it do?
Maybe disconnecting from technology would help you discover a new hobby or passion.
Maybe leaving work early would help you reconnect with your partner, family, children, or yourself.
Maybe spending every Sunday offline and going to the theater, your grandparents’ place, or local community center would reignite your spark for life.
Maybe saying “no” this time is the right choice so you can say “yes” to what you really want.
Only you know what would help you get off the roller coaster. Go find that thing and do it!
2. Rediscover nature.
If you’re like me and live in a big city, you might think this one sounds tough. But trust me, it’s easier than you think.
If I look out my bedroom window I see trees everywhere—in my neighbor’s yard, on the hill behind our home, on the sidewalk.
Take a look outside the closest window to you right now. Can you see a tree? Grass? A potted plant? Maybe you’re lucky and can see a park.
Or maybe not.
Maybe you need to work harder at rediscovering nature.
Maybe you need to book a weekend away to a farm stay, or a ski holiday in the winter, or a trip to the beach tomorrow.
I know there’s something in nature you love to do, so go find that and do it. It will be one of the most grounding experiences of your life.
And then bottle that feeling and take it home with you. Remember it, fuse it into your memory bank like there’s no tomorrow, because you don’t want to forget this feeling.
Because it’s this feeling that will keep you going until you have the chance to truly connect with nature again.
3. Create calm at home.
When I’m in overwhelm things usually go off the rails a bit in my home. You know what I mean—washing takes longer to get done and put away, dishes take longer to be cleaned, mail doesn’t get opened, bags get dropped wherever.
But this really doesn’t help overwhelm. In fact, it’s overwhelms best friend!
Ooh, doesn’t she just love a crazy disorganized home! It helps boost her up, give her more energy, more power.
And you? Well, you get more overwhelmed.
And the cycle continues until you can’t take it anymore.
Make the decision to dig deep into your energy reserves and create calm in your home.
I know you don’t have much energy and I know you’ll have to dig deep, but trust me; it will be worth it. Just organize or declutter something. Anything! Just one thing today, maybe two tomorrow, or three if you’re feeling good.
And then step back and soak it all in, because you’re starting to kick overwhelms butt!
She doesn’t like it, but who cares? This isn’t about her; it’s about you.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good declutter. This one alone can help calm your mind and give you more focus than you ever thought possible.
4. Write a “do this” list.
Once the overwhelm starts to lift, I like to write a “do this” list. Please don’t get this confused with a “to do” list. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!
A “do this” list is your reminder of what it is you like to do so that overwhelm doesn’t pay you another visit (or at the every least, doesn’t visit for quite some time).
Your “do this” list will look different to mine but here are some ideas to get your started:
- Meditate for twenty minutes a day
- Walk home through the park
- Have fresh flowers on your table or window sill
- Practice Sacred Sunday (a technology-free day)
- Use beautiful lotions and soaps each day
- Climb a mountain
- Hug your children
- Read a book
- Sit under a tree
- Drink water with a spritz of lemon each morning
Your list doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe come up with ten or fifteen things you can do each week that lift you up and fill your tank so overwhelm doesn’t rear her less-than-happy head again any time soon.
Man in lotus image via Shutterstock