Updated: Dec 28, 2020
When I look back at the tougher times in my adult life, I would say that most often I would argue I was fine; I was just #overwhelmed. I remember always feeling as if I had a little help, my issues would all be solved, but there was never enough time. Once this next big task was accomplished, I could really settle my life and focus on my needs. Maybe you can relate?
Maybe you have too much going on with school or work, or both? Maybe you are going through a tough time financially? Maybe your relationships are struggling? Your health may even be challenging your fortitude. Whatever your case, chances are you could be feeling overwhelmed and it's directly impacting everything else in your life. How might you identify when you've buried yourself in #anxiety, duty, responsibilities, or fear and how can you get your life back?
Identify Your Trigger
Although it can be hard to see when you are in it, becoming overwhelmed is a gradual state, which means it can be really hard to get out of easily. It likely took you years to get here so it will take quite a bit of commitment to correct your situation. You have likely overcommitted and spread yourself too thin, and you probably haven't any real clue how far away you are from your happy, healthy center. There is a course you can continue to follow to end up overwhelmed, and there is another, alternative course you can follow to end up at peace.
Recognizing triggers is a challenge, and admittedly, therapy is an exceedingly helpful way to identify these. I often argue that we should engage in talk therapy just as we utilize teeth cleanings and eye exams for preventative care. Seeking therapy when we are in triage mode is not often helpful because we haven't the reserve to really dig in and make the necessary adjustments. Regularly meeting with a trusted therapist allows us to touch base and assure we are maintaining those healthy boundaries.
Step Away From the Stimuli
Where is the drama right now in your life? Whatever it is, you can step away and take a break. Assuredly, you just said to yourself, "Nope, nope, I can't." But yes, yes, you can. Although it may seem that everything and everyone else will fall apart of you disappear for even a moment, the reality is that you will be so much more capable of helping others when you have met your own needs first. You'll see the bigger picture with more clarity and be able to revise for everyone's benefit.
Deep Breathing is a Good Start
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Use your diaphragm or stomach area and slowly breathe out through the mouth. This simple trick can really calm your nervous system when you feel as if you may spiral out of control or down the trap of negativity. If you haven't tried #meditation, just give it five minutes each morning for the next week. You'll be amazed.
This isn't, in itself, the key to life transformation but what practices like this do offer is opportunity to check in with yourself. There can seem sometimes an endless loop of thoughts, tasks, strategies, and responsibilities to address, but not a lot of reflection time. This is part of why I love hiking. You can't do anything else but walk and think, and a good seven mile walk gives me time to push beyond all the busyness and really evolve those worries and work through them.
Incorporate Breaks into Your Routine
When I was working as a #midwife, I was on call 24/7 for years. I also had to remain within about a 200 mile radius so I was available on a moment's notice for clients. I couldn't drink alcohol, go canoeing, attend concerts or any other event that I couldn't escape in just a few minutes. I was at the complete mercy of my client's every need. After hiring an associate midwife, I spontaneously signed the family up for a Disney cruise and for those seven days, no one could contact me at all. I couldn't check my email and there was no social media. I had mastered multi-tasking so it took me a few days to appreciate sitting by the pool, reading a book, and having not a thing to do. When I returned, I told the staff I was ready to close the practice. I was done.
I have heard the same from many very successful and overworked professionals. They pour themselves into their work and then take their first vacation in years, and never come back. Admittedly, I think this happens in many marriages as well. Breaks and vacations should be a non-negotiable. No matter how busy you are, you do need time to step away from the tension at least once a week.
Check in with Your Health
Busy people can become very disembodied. We don't even recognize the message of our own body. We gain loads of weight and barely recognize or believe we can quickly correct this, right after we accomplish this next goal. We don't sleep. We can't settle ourselves to enjoy a massage. We don't eat a healthy diet, and quite frankly, live in great denial here because our intentions are good. Let me be clear, if you can't find the time to plan a healthy meal plan and you are consuming processed foods or even fast foods on a regular basis, then you are committing to responsibilities far more than you were ever intended. Your mission is not one that will sacrifice your health. You also need to exercise.
Create Balance Between Your Heart, Mind, & Body
Health and wellness are a multifaceted concept. You must have a handle on these so when the ebbs and tides of life present, you aren't finding yourself in the deepest of valleys and on the peaks of great mountains. You need reserve so you can not only recover these challenges life will certainly offer, but also so you can see them coming and brace yourself a bit. If your heart, mind, or body are thrown out of balance a bit, you will need to bring them into alignment in order to avoid negative outcomes for yourself - and constant anxiety.
Always Seek Ways to Better Manage Your Stress
Yoga teaches to always engage in self study. What are your major stressors? When do you feel most relaxed, most safe? What energizes you? How might you ground yourself regularly? What brings you the greatest pleasure? What is most authentic to you? Explore! Commit to honoring your own needs.
Recognize that chronic stress is similar to a major environmental toxin or trauma to your body. Chronic stress impacts your brain the same way one suffers from trauma. This is not how our bodies are wired. Our sympathetic nervous system is our reserve, for emergencies. It isn't the state we are suppose to predominantly live. If you feel you are irritable, anxious, have insomnia, and especially if you suffer from moments of rage, you are living in a sympathetic dominant state and seriously need to reevaluate your life habits.