Overwhelm is not a feeling most of us welcome. Our typical response to ever-growing responsibilities and demands is to do more and work harder, rather than take a step back to notice and learn.
Overwhelm makes us feel tired and keeps our minds in constant thought. We may notice that the small problems start to feel like really big ones or start to obsess over the little things. We may feel irritable all the time or notice we can’t concentrate. Sometimes, we simply just want to give up and quit the things that mean the most to us.
What can help?
1. Pause between the thoughts
Slow down. Slow…down…the…mind. Overwhelm happens when our mind is too busy. Pause between each thought. Let there be an absence of inner dialogue (to read more on pausing click here). When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it is important to remember that our lives aren’t falling apart, but that our thoughts are not serving us.
For real. Breathe with intention, from the belly, and notice how the body responds. Notice the belly rise and fall and practice saying, “I have nowhere to be. I have nowhere to go. I am exactly where I need to be.” Allow the mind to calm so that the body can relax.
3. Let go of the outcome
We can do many things and we can’t do them all at once. Let go of the outcome and just do what you can. Overwhelm creeps up when we get too attached to the outcome. What is the worst thing that could happen? Is it worse than you being overstressed and exhausted? Never.
Step away from your laptop, TV, phone and/or social media. There is no reason to consume one more thought and continue to overstimulate the brain. Find a safe space (even if you only have 5 minutes right now) to unplug and replenish.
5. Let go of expectation
Open your heart and find compassion for the situation that is bringing you so much anguish, overwhelm and stress. It doesn’t have to be exactly the way you imagined in your mind. Let things unfold naturally without trying to control them right now.
6. Stop judging yourself
It is never useful to beat ourselves up. Overwhelm can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure, so it’s really important to pay attention to the extra noise in your mind and turn down the volume on your inner critic. You can only do what you can in each moment and that is always enough.
7. Create this moment gently
Overwhelm happens when we consume too much and create less. Laugh. Move. Drink water. Life is hard enough most days, so why not smile and do something that feels good? Find something that feels nourishing. Write. Draw. Take a walk. Listen to music. Call a friend. Create.
8. Know that you are not alone
There are seven billion people on this planet. There are millions of others who are feeling the same overwhelm as you right this very minute. You are not alone. Allow yourself to feel that collective energy.
9. Remind yourself that you are human
Soften toward yourself and let go of the need to solve or fix. Just be. Allow yourself to be human and take pleasure in what that really means. You are allowed to try and do it all, feel deeply, make mistakes, not have all the answers and still be proud of yourself.
10. Remind yourself that this will not last forever
You are brave enough to trust and learn from your overwhelm. Feeling overwhelmed is a sign. You have the power to cancel something or to say no thank you. You have the option of deciding what matters to you and making room for whatever that is. Continue to be brave and keep learning about yourself.