When I participated in the Escape Your Prison Telesummit the beginning of 2013, one of my colleagues, Erika Salloux, mentioned something in her talk that has continued to stay with me: When you’re in overwhelm, that really just means that you body and your mind aren’t in the same place at the same time.
How many times do you feel your brain is racing ten steps ahead of where you are right now? Interestingly, what can end overwhelm may be exactly the opposite of what you think it might be. Instead of doing more, try doing less. Quite simply, ending overwhelm is usually achieved by being present in the moment, right here, right now.
Here are nine activities you can try to end overwhelm right now:
1. Go for a hike or a walk. If you can get out in nature and away from all the noise, opt for that, but if not, get out there and get the blood flowing. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and let go of all those things you’re “supposed” to be doing. Notice the vegetation, the animals, how your body feels, and whatever else is present in the moment.
2. Do yoga. Yoga poses are hard for a reason, they force you to be present right here right now. If you’re a seasoned yogi, go for the poses that are the most challenging. If you’re new to yoga, take a beginners class or check out a video that’s right for your fitness level. Not only is yoga good for the physical body, it’s good for the mind as well.
3. Practice four-count breathing. Focus on your breath and give each side of your breath an four equal counts – breathe in for four counts, hold your breath in for four counts, exhale for four counts, hold your exhale out for four counts. Do several rounds of this until you feel centered again. (This is also a great practice to do right before bed if you have trouble sleeping).
4. Make a list of your priorities. When I start to feel overwhelmed I know it’s because I’m forgetting what my priorities really are. You can ask yourself daily, “If I could only get one thing done today, what would be the most important for me to accomplish?” When you know your priorities, overwhelm starts to slip away.
5. Ask yourself, what is the payoff? Our society values a go, go, go attitude. It values a supermom who can get it all done. Are you buying into this? Does being so busy make your feel important or satisfied? Does having so much to do make you feel like you’re accomplishing more? Make a list of the payoffs you get from being in overwhelm – remember “payoff” doesn’t mean it’s a positive thing, only that you receive some type of benefit.
6. Put time for self care in your calendar FIRST. Are you overwhelmed because there’s never any time to take care of yourself? Schedule time for your favorite self care activities before saying “yes” to others.
7. Learn how to say NO. Many times we say “yes” when we really mean “no”, which can lead to resentment and feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff on our calendars. When you say “no” to others, you’re saying “yes” to yourself and your peace of mind.
8. Sit down and meditate. Try focusing on just your breath. If your mind slips into your overwhelm, just let it go and come back to your breath. As counterintuitive as it sounds, sometimes thinking about “nothing” is when we can accomplish the most. Part of the reason for this is because when we come back to our work, we’re more focused, centered and grounded.
9. Be mindful in everything you do. If you’re washing the dishes, really pay attention to how it feels to wash the dishes. If your making dinner, notice everything about the meal you’re making. When you’re present in the current moment, overwhelm can’t come in because your mind and your body are in the same place at the same time. Nothing else matters except this moment.
How do you deal with overwhelm? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the blog comments!