I’m standing in the kitchen, tidying, reviewing in my mind the things that I need to accomplish that day, and then I think of something else I should do this minute that’s more important. I get mad at myself for forgetting, leave what I was tidying in the kitchen unfinished, and move on to that forgotten task, which I likely also fail to complete because the chatter in my head about what needs doing overwhelms completion. This is one version of my overwhelm. It might be triggered by a genuinely busy day BUT the day doesn’t even have to “look” particularly busy.
Another version of overwhelm for me has not so much to do with the amount of busy, but the kind of busy. This overwhelm is me looking at my calendar (as an introvert) and seeing no time for me to be alone, no time to make reasonable transitions, or just too many big events with lots of people stacked up on one another (hello holidays!). The result is the same, a lot of spinning and discontent.
Yet another version (yes friends, I am an overwhelm expert)… I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed and feel myself being equal parts infuriated, disenchanted, and baffled by what I see going on the world, I’m well-informed but paralyzed. I have access to so much information, but have absolutely no idea what to do with any of it and so, more often than not, don’t do much with it and simply move on, in a much worse state of mind, to tending to the tasks of life’s daily necessity. Unsatisfied, bludgeoned by the world and judged by myself, wanting to crawl in bed and pull up the covers. Overwhelm as cold comfort.
What does your overwhelm look like? Do you withdraw, hide, play small so your life will shrink a little? Do you get sensitive and emotional? Do you find it difficult to accomplish your daily tasks? Do you only attend to your daily tasks in hopes that trudging through will force the feeling to go away?
Overwhelm is tricky in that it can be caused by so many things and can feel so many different ways, but there is a way out. And the way out always starts with getting very still, very quiet, breathing deeply and assessing your immediate circumstance. I don’t mean tomorrow, or next year, or even 5 minutes from now. What is happening exactly where you are this very minute? You can stop and breathe right here where you are. You can pause. You can allow everything to slow down. You can remind yourself that it is okay to pause, to rest, to allow your brain to settle, to allow your heart to simply beat. You can remind yourself that all you need to do right now is to breathe and feel the way that your heart beats for you, feel the way the blood pumps through your veins to your entire body, feel your breath slow down. Be glad in the quiet. Be glad that your body will allow you this peace. Be glad that you are able to slow down. Close your eyes and see the colors on the insides of your eyelids.
When we learn to leave the tumult of overwhelm and allow stillness in, we increase our chances of discerning, with a clear mind and a loving heart, what it is that we most need to do. The other concerns line up in rank order or simply fall away as lacking importance. Peace is the first step to Finding the Ohhh in Overwhelm. If you want some help with the next steps, I sure would like to show them to you.