Somewhere in my soul I know this is true, but there are many days when I question if I was accidentally dropped into the wrong life. So, on the days I feel like breathing into a paper bag is my only option I try to remember what my wiser, calmer and saner self would say on a better day.
Since I am writing this at 6am, my 3-year-old isn’t awake yet and there hasn’t been enough time for the other 4 kids to remember what they’ve forgotten and start texting me, I better get in touch with that calmer, wiser girl before all is lost.
Here are my top 5 Self Strength Builders when I am feeling totally overwhelmed.
- Remember that this too shall pass. I know this ancient adage may seem trite. However, in all my experiences–nothing endures (except love). Everything has an ebb and flow. Sometimes the waves crash over us and we truly feel like we are being swallowed because we are in the throes of it. And honestly, sometimes I allow my mind to get so invested in my drama that the only thing I can grasp as my mind performs what-if somersaults is, the knowing that this can’t last forever. Soon, I will find something new to occupy my mind and this will be a memory. I know this isn’t a huge, deep or super mindful tip, but this one is the one I resort to when I can’t seem to sustain my center.
- Simply notice where your attention is flowing. Our mind is a tricky thing. It wonders off without any notice, creates all kinds of stories and can create an alternate reality before we are even aware. So my advice here is check yourself. Are you creating a story that has no basis in truth? I love the work of author, Byron Katie on this topic. But, when you don’t have time to read an entire book just STOP. Take 3 deep breaths, ask yourself the following questions, take 3 more deep breaths and see where you stand on the topic. What is overwhelming me right now? Who are the players in what I am experiencing right now? What emotions am I really feeling? When have I felt this way before? Is this really as big of a deal as I am making it? Is it even true? There are no right or wrong answers here, sometimes we just need to slow down enough to look around and step out of the eye of the storm for a little perspective.
- Self-care! This one is huge. It starts with the same check list I use when my 3-year-old is having an insane melt down. How much sleep has he had the last few days? Has he eaten well lately because sugar makes him nuts? So the adult version of this is: Have you been sleeping? Have you been eating well? Have you been exercising and moving your body? Have you meditated lately or had some quiet moments? Have you gotten a massage lately? I know in the midst of overwhelm it isn’t easy to imagine getting to that 7pm yoga class, but do it anyway! We can’t change all the poor habits in a day. Find just 1 thing that is easy today to do. Maybe it is just going to bed an hour earlier with lavender in the diffuser, maybe it is eating 1 good meal. You pick the one that feels simple, helpful and doable.
- Find something that helps you in the moment. Now I love a good margarita, but remember that isn’t a long term plan! I call these coping tools. A few of mine are music, candles, a salt-bath, driving in my car by myself, essential oils and a Reiki treatment. So, these are things that help me move through the overwhelm so I can catch my breath and not get completely lost in it. They are delightful and purposeful distractions that take my energy and mind to a different place where it simply cannot spin out of control.
- Get help. Only you know where you really are in this moment on the overwhelm spectrum. Sometimes the observation, the attention and the pause can pull you up. Other times, you may really be at your breaking point. This is when you bring in a trusted friend, partner or professional. Be mindful and specific in your choosing here. Don’t pick your crazy high school girlfriend who is always embedded in drama at work. Pick someone who seems to have a little of the peace or balance you desire, and then quickly remind yourself that we are all human, all having these experiences and that whoever you choose has been here too. Think of this person as your trail guide. You want someone experienced to move you through this terrain. Maybe it is your best friend, your spouse, your yoga teacher, a therapist, a life coach or counselor. And when you are able, remind yourself of #1 again. This will pass. The lesson will emerge, you will breathe through it, become wiser for it and you will be ready for the next one.
This grown up life thing isn’t easy at times, but remembering that YOU are here for a reason and a purpose that only you can fulfill is the goal. Take one step at a time to get there, sometimes we will be crawling and others we will be dancing. Each is a part of our story. Wishing you love, peace and presence.