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Centering Yourself from Overwhelm

Updated: Feb 3

It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed in our modern world. Much of the time we are living in sensory overload. It seems like our to-do lists are longer than ever. The demands placed on us professionally and personally can feel like a weight squashing us. We are not sure when we will ever be free of it. Of course, life is always happening all around us and to us. Just when we think we have things under control, bam; life throws us a curveball.

To better weather the demands and ups and downs of life and the endless stream of information that is being thrown at us it’s helpful to keep it all in perspective. So much of the overwhelm we feel is self generated. I know I am 100 % guilty of self generated, or “lifestyle” overwhelm. I was listening to a podcast (link at the end of email) a while ago about the topic of overwhelm and it really spoke to me.

Of course, we all deal with “legitimate” overwhelm from time to time. These are times in our lives when we’ve been thrown the curve ball. We may be caring for a sick child or aging parent, maybe we face a huge deadline at work, relationship problems or we are scrambling for summertime childcare. Typically these are moments that demand our attention right away and maybe for extended periods of time. They are often out of our control and can cause a lot of stress.

What about all the other areas of our life where we feel overwhelmed? This is where the “lifestyle” overwhelm takes over. It is the feeling of being inundated and overburdened by all kinds of things going on around us that really, for all intents and purposes, do not matter. Whether you are overwhelmed by the weeds that have taken over your garden, the clutter that is strewn throughout your house or the 759 unread emails in your inbox, take a deep breath and ask yourself if it’s really worth getting worked up about. 99% of the time, the answer will be “no”. It’s not truly legitimate. The level of stress and angst we feel is not worth it. We know that too much chronic stress over time is the cause of most diseases.

Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes a lot of deliberate practice for some of us to manage our feelings of overwhelm.

As I mentioned, I’ve been guilty of generating “lifestyle” overwhelm in my life. Each day I create a to-do list for both my work and personal life. This list used to be quite lengthy - after all, I needed to fill my day and be as productive as possible (or so I thought). On days that I did not complete my list, I would feel deflated. I was disappointed that I did not get to everything on the list despite feeling exhausted! I was inadvertently overwhelming myself. Crazy right?!

Below are some strategies you can use to manage both “legitimate” and “lifestyle” overwhelm.

Tips to Navigate Overwhelm

  • Live in the moment

  • Let go of things out of your control

  • Compartmentalize situations (i.e. don't allow your pending work deadline to overshadow pleasure time)

  • Pare down your to-do list (what do you really need to accomplish)

  • Respect your body - if you feel tired, rest!

  • Incorporate a short gratitude, meditation or breathwork practice into your day (allows for appreciation and calm)

  • Be mindful of the time you do have - how much are you spending on devices, tv, etc?

  • Journal or “brain dump” what is bothering you

  • Make time for pleasurable activities

  • Spend some time outdoors - great for clearing your head and putting life in perspective

If you would like to learn more about managing feelings of overwhelm, give a listen to this podcast:

Here a a couple of links the help you lighten you and let the feelings of overwhelm float away:

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