I keep having conversations with friends, family and even acquaintances and there is a common thread – everyone is feeling overwhelmed. This is an epidemic! How can we help this anxiety and worry and stop the self-talk in our heads from making things so much worse than they are? Or even if they are really bad – and we all come face to face with unfathomable challenges – how do we get through the day and feel like we have an element of control back in our life?
This blog originated as I was feeling a dark shadow looming as I tried to keep up. I was trying to keep on top of my kids, my partner, my work, my fitness, my family and then myself if there was anything left in the tank. I thought if I could catch up then everything would be fine. Funny that ‘fine’ was my ideal goal as now I strive for super amazing as my benchmark! We all fall into this trap and just try to keep moving. If we’re moving and doing something then this action must be making things happen? I’ve realised that you’ll never finish the ‘to do’ list so stop trying. With all this doing, I now know this is just like walking on a treadmill – you never get anywhere!
What’s my advice? First, you need to STOP. Just stop. No one will die if you stop and take 5 minutes for yourself to get a grip and get things clear in your head. Have a cup of tea. Tea makes everything better because you make yourself stop.
Slow down. Smell the coffee/roses/flowers. Be still with your brain. If there’s a challenge you’re not sure how to tackle first sit with it. Then think of the worse case scenario. Sounds scary – but often the worse case isn’t as scary as you think. Once you’ve accepted this as a possibility, you can move again and get un-stuck. Did you know that 99% of the time the outcome is much better than your worse case scenario you imagined! This is a great test to use as our mental dialogue and self talk are the KEY!
I use a simple strategy to cure overwhelm that I know will help because I use it daily. Something you can do now. While you’re sitting with your brain, you need to take back control and not be afraid to turn inwards and find your strength. It’s there. You know it’s there. The magic ingredient is D I S T R A C T I O N. From your brain and all the terrible things it tells you. Our brain is wired up to protect us from that sabre tooth tiger that could be around the next corner. Your body goes on full alert to protect it. It’s not your brain’s fault, BUT you can do something about this automated state of fight or flight. When our brain thinks danger is near it stops everything and gets adrenaline flowing, heart racing, muscles braced, stress hormones release, etc – if you stay in this state long enough it can have long term effects that can be very harmful. I think when you’re stuck there, the feeling of overwhelm is often at an all time high.
How do you distract your brain? Well, we’re all different so you’ll need to look inside and look for the answers for yourself. I can’t tell you everything! 😉 Also, I actually don’t even do ‘to do’ lists anymore – why bother they only stress me out! When I’m in flow and feeling good then my priorities appear and I know I need to take action so I still get things done. So far, no one has died and I haven’t missed anything of major importance (that I’m aware of)! While you’re inside your brain think of the ideal scenario that you would like to happen. Feel it and smell it and tell yourself that this has happened. See how you feel? Calmer? It’s amazing when we do this exercise too because we never imagine that scenario as good as it can be. We always short change ourselves and take enough. Enough isn’t where the magic is. The magic is when we push the limits. If you feel uncomfortable try and work out why. Look inside. All the answers are there. You don’t need any more tools or tricks. You are more than enough and your answers are there. Can’t find them? Look harder.
I can share more of what I do and what works for me to give you some guidance, but you’ll need to work out what floats your boat. Yoga helps me tap into that magical place inside that only I know. General movement is magic and always helps me get out of my brain. Everything is better after yoga. I suspend my brain as I do a class and am totally present. After I always have a different perspective from before and often this is all I need to get through something. Meditation is another amazing tool. I’m trying to do a daily practice and I know this will only fine tune my inner practice even more. You don’t have to do what I do. Go for a walk outside – getting in nature is key.
Ok, so you’re overwhelmed with so much to do and can’t even find 20 minutes for a walk? Then I need to tell you the story of the Dalai Llama who usually meditates for 1 hour per day. His assistant told him he had an extra busy work day ahead – the Dalai Llama advised that he would then need to meditate 2 hours that day! What a lesson. You can find 20 minutes for yourself. If not, set the alarm 20 minutes early! BTW I don’t use an alarm either – what a horrible way to start the day with an annoying beep and reacting to the world. I wake up with the sun (unless I need to catch a plane, then I get my husband to set his watch!). Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself a break. If you want some more tips and tricks check out this earlier post I did to help a friend out of a rut.
While you’re going ‘in’ and you see all those worries and negative things that appear, imagine they are clouds – they come and then they go. You’re still the same person before you thought them. You are not your thoughts. That’s gold. Did you get that? You are NOT your thoughts. Is there something small you can do right now that will get you closer to the outcome you want? Then do it. One small step at a time. You only need to see the next step, you don’t need to see the whole ladder to keep moving towards that ideal scenario.
Well I’m feeling better now. What about you? Please share your thoughts as it will help all of us! Remember, those thoughts are clouds so watch them come and GO!
Over and out x