There was a moment today where I felt the familiar feeling of extreme overwhelms tart to well up inside me again. You know what I mean - your heart races, your gut turns, you want to cry from exhaustion but you can’t work up the tears - it’s just all too much sometimes. Maybe you even bury your face in your hands and wince. The to-do list lengthens in your mind as you run through everything that requires your time and attention.
If these feelings come up often for you, you overcommit yourself often, or you feel as if life keeps “happening to you”, there may be some deeper level healing work we can do one on one, so be sure to reach out when you’ve finished reading this post.
But for now, I want to walk you through what I do to heal and work through overwhelm in the moment.
Basic Steps to Reversing the Onset of Overwhelm
First, when you first feel your heart rate rise, stop and ask yourself “what’s required of me *this moment*”? Are these things that are overwhelming me so greatly in this moment, are they due right now at this very second?
If the answer is no (which it usually is no!) then you likely have a moment to spare and stop and breathe.
Stop and tune into your body’s physical response in the moment. For me, today, I discovered my body was very tired and worn down from what we’d done the past few days. Family events, weddings, normal work schedules, parenting, packing for a move, and late nights writing course material for my upcoming membership. I was tired.
I ran through all those things I had experienced and or accomplished in the past few days. It had been a lot and it had been good. I was proud of myself. So I stopped to acknowledge that I was tired, fatigued, and was in need of a break.
Then I checked the calendar.
Awesome. Clear night tonight.
So instead of filling it with additional tasks, which I might typically do, I decided that in order to get through the next few weeks (which were the cause of my overwhelm!) I was going to need a little TLC tonight.
I tuned in and asked myself (asked my body) what would feel best tonight. A night out with a friend? A night in? My body resonated with how great a simple warm bath, a face mask, freshly painted nails a cup of tea and getting to bed early would feel.
Done! Date with myself, scheduled.
Doing this would better equip me to get up and face tomorrow’s challenges, the upcoming responsibilities I knew would be mine to manage. Instantly the feelings of overwhelm were greatly diminished, even close to gone in that moment. I knew what I had to do in this day, in this moment. I was going to rest up and give my body the care it was asking for to get move forward.
The Body’s Naturally Wise Internal Messaging System
Often, overwhelm is simply the body’s physical response to tell you to STOP! Slow down, tune in, rest, recharge. If your body is responding with overwhelm or signaling that something is “too much”, guess what… it probably IS! Your body is incredibly wise. Take a moment to listen to it so it doesn’t have to find alternative ways to get your attention.
Ive been through too many times in my life where I continually ignored my body’s internal messaging system. Feeling overwhelmed? I self sabotaged with panic. Feeling exhausted? I’d reach for caffeine.
Disregard your body’s simple, profound messaging system long enough, and your body may even do what I did, which is start to physically shut things down to get your attention.
A simple alarm going off in your internal messaging system that something is “overwhelming” or “too much”, simply take a second to ask your body what it needs in that moment. Ask your mind and soul what is needed. Often, its some version of rest. So whatever version of rest sounds BEST to you in the moment, do that.
If this seems too simple, I challenge you to try it.
It has taken time for me to love and appreciate myself, who I am, and how I move through life enough to get to the point where now this feels natural to me to walk through this with myself.
If it feels foreign to you, uncomfortable, or like it doesn’t work the first few times you try it, keep at it.
Always begin with a few deep breaths. Because oxygen truly is anxiety’s greatest physical antidote. And from there, ask yourself what’s required of you *this moment*. Because often the things that are overwhelming us are projections into the future and fears of the unknowns or of how we are going to “get through”. You must bring yourself back to this present moment. Stand in the grass if you can (this is a grounding practice!). Tune into your body and ask it what it needs right now, and act accordingly. Showing this level of love and care to yourself in a moment of overwhelm can drastically shift what happens next, and the rest of your day will likely thank you for taking that moment.
Have you walked through these steps or steps similar to these before in a moment of overcoming overwhelm? Let me know in the comments!