Do you feel like you have too much going on right now? Not enough time or energy to get everything done? Does it feel like your to do list is a mile long and getting longer, not shorter? Are you struggling with a decision or trying to figure something out, but you’re not even sure what questions to ask?
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll be cruising along happily, making massive progress, in flow, making discoveries, getting things done… and then wham! You’re overwhelmed and stressed out and surrounded by fear, doubts, and overwhelm. It’s all too much.
What can you do?
Sometimes we want to ignore it, deny it, or try to force it out through sheer willpower, but in my experience, those tactics don’t work very well.
You really need a shift in your thinking. You need to actually get through it, not just run away from it.
To get that shift and to get through it, often the first thing we need to do is take a break. Take a break from consciously thinking about and striving with whatever is bothering us. Take a break and take care of ourselves.
That can be hard to do when you really want to just solve the problem.
But just taking a break and taking care of yourself in a deeper way can open the way out of the overwhelm.
When you come back to it, you often come up with a solution, or a different way of looking at it, and things fall into place. Overwhelm evaporates.
Here are ten ideas to help you get out from under feelings of overwhelm, stress, and fear, and start feeling clear, joyful, and on track again.
1. Sleep. Often part of my problem is just not getting enough sleep. Take a nap while baby is sleeping. Get your husband to watch the kids in the morning so you can sleep in. Go to bed early and make sure you get the sleep you need. This is critical.
2. Meditate. Clearing your mind through silent meditation is not necessarily easy when you are feeling overwhelmed, but it is such a big help. Letting go of the churning waterfall of thoughts is a great mental break.
3. Walk. Walking has been shown to help your brain, and it sure does help my mood. It’s the best exercise! Plus it has the added benefit of getting you outside and in the sunshine which also helps you recharge.
4. Read. Read some wonderful fiction or encouraging nonfiction. Do you have a book that makes you laugh out loud or cry? The most recent book that made me laugh out loud was (surprisingly), Dan Harris’s 10% Happier. Another writer whose work makes me laugh and cry is Anne Lamott. I highly recommend both of them.
5. Journal. Let it all out. Write it all down. If you feel like typing instead of writing by hand, do that. You can save it, or you can delete it. You can write it on looseleaf paper, in a pretty journal, or wherever. Just let it all out.
6. Talk. Call a friend or family member who is a great listener, and tell her all about it. Your friends and family care about you. Or share with a friend through email or a letter or on social media (privately, of course!).
7. Reconnect with your values. Do you keep a list of what is most meaningful and important to you in your life? Now is a great time to check in with that. If not, or even if you do, right now you can list of everything that is really important to you, what you want in your life, what you don’t want in your life, and how you want to feel right now. For a quick way to do this, think about what three words you want in your life right now.
Another way to approach this is to think about how you want to feel when you are 80 and looking back on your life. How will you want to have lived your life? What qualities do you want your life to be characterized by? How do you want your life and your self to look?
8. Be thankful. Write a list of everything you are thankful for today.
9. Draw or paint. Take out your children’s crayons or markers or paints, and just have fun. Let your inner creative loose. I’m feeling more relaxed just thinking about it. When I was pregnant, I did some art journalling to prepare for birth, and I used pastels. They are really fun if you haven’t tried them.
10. Drink in the beauty of nature. Yesterday morning was the peak of the Orionids meteor shower. The best time to watch was in the wee hours of the night close to dawn. There was a crescent moon and no rain in the forecast. I had it marked on my calendar, but I wasn’t strongly committed to getting up early to watch it since I haven’t been sleeping that well lately.
I awoke early and my calendar reminded me of the meteor shower. I was happy I both remembered to go outside and was awake early enough to do it. Around 5:00 AM I walked out and looked up at the stars.
There was Orion, so beautiful. I went back in for my pillow and blanket and coffee, and sat on my doorstep for around ten minutes watching for meteors. It had been so long since I had really looked at the stars. It was amazing. I only saw one quick meteor, but I didn’t feel disappointed. I felt blessed by that gift of stargazing. What a wonderful way to start the day! I’m going to have to do that more often.
How do you deal with overwhelm? I would love to hear your ideas and tips in the comments below!