This week saw me surprisingly sitting side by side my old buddy overwhelm who to be honest hasn’t been around for a while.
Actually, for the past few weeks I have felt like I was on a down hill slope to overwhelm central with brakes that were a bit dodgy.
I can assure you, she wasn’t invited, and to suggest her stay wasn’t pleasant is an understatement.
In fact, I would have preferred to experience anything else rather then feel her so near again after such a long time apart.
My relationship with overwhelm has been a long-standing one.
We know each other well, greeting each other like a couple of ‘old’ friends who haven’t seen each other in an age when she rocks up unexpectedly, all fake smiles and meaningless banter.
Some days it’s an all-out ambush and others she creeps in insipidly, overthrowing my otherwise peaceful sanctuary into a state of unease and chaos.
Other days I feel barely a caress.
The thing is, the relationship has become totally one-sided.
She gets all the good stuff, and I am just left to pick up the pieces when she breezes out, ready for her next hit somewhere else.
What did I ever get out of it you probably wonder??
Well…once upon a time when I was a stressed out, fast paced crazy lady, overwhelm didn’t register so much on my own personal richter scale as my whole existence was one of anxiety and overstimulation anyway, so it all just kind of flowed together and I did what all sane people do in that kind of situation…
I fed my addiction and had another coffee.
Though things have certainly changed from those caffeine-fuelled days of past, the power of overwhelm still stirs me into a frenzy from time to time.
Like it or not, overwhelm is a part of the spectrum of the human experience.
The intensity and frequency of her manifestation is unique to each of us, but we have all at some point, felt the paralysing crush of overwhelm sneak up when we least expected it.
For now, this is part of my journey.
Something I work with each moment it arises.
She comes… and I pause.
Now I have tools to help ease the suffering and shift me out of the sudden deluge and back to a place where peace and serenity rule the day.
After years of feeling the energy of overwhelm move through me I have cultivated a set of practises to assist me each time she drops by to say hello.
I have learned to welcome her now, rather than turn her away.
For she offers me a gift, some insight into where I am moving out of alignment
Still, in the midst of overwhelm it can sometimes be hard to anchor back into my body as this pattern is deeply ingrained and has been stuck on repeat for what feels like forever.
Dealing with long-term health issues whilst raising a toddler; finding myself out of balance where my daily self-care practises have slipped to the end of my list; or overcommitting and scheduling too much into a day can ALL trigger a visit from overwhelm.
The key for me when I feel the stirring of overwhelm inside is to take a moment to be still, remain open, lean in close and truly listen.
There is always a whispered message underneath the noise.
Overwhelm will always come to play when I have taken on too much, have gotten ‘too busy’ or am just not putting my needs first.
She loves to highlight when I have moved out of ‘being’ mode and have one toe (or foot) back in that old paradigm of martyrdom and compromise.
So now I truly do see the gift in her arrival, even though I may still dislike the experience itself.
The difference is I no longer try to change it or run away and hide, but instead see the insight and wisdom to be gained by turning to look her in the eye.
So sweet soul, when overwhelm decides to swing by unannounced, here are a few tools that have saved the day for me.
They might just get you through the moment too.
This is the one that gets me through every time.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just bring your full awareness to the boundless breath as it moves in and out of the body.
Relax into it and let the breath move down into the belly as you allow the shoulders to gently move away from the ears.
Notice as the overwhelming feelings begin to soften and dissipate.
+ Become aware of the physical sensations that accompany overwhelm, feel them and allow them to slowly melt and release under the scrutiny of your gaze.
+ Accept that this is just a fleeting moment and it too shall pass…eventually.
+ Start to recognise the early warning signs before overwhelm is in full swing.
What do you notice in your body?
How has your breath changed?
Has the mind space shifted?
Take action now to change something before the full force takes over!
+ Prioritise what can be done later.
Let all that isn’t totally necessary drop away and instead focus all your energy on getting through the moment.
Trust me - your ‘to do’ list can wait!
+ Shift gears
Time to slooowwwww way down and realign.
Consciously take a step (or two) away from the situation and ask yourself:
What’s the worst that could happen?
+ Get crystal clear on what you want and focus laser beam style on the steps you need to take to get there.
Overwhelm often shows up when we are feeling a little lost or directionless, so hone in on your goals and how to manifest them.
(in a way that doesn’t trigger more overwhelm!)
+ Get outdoors!
Being in nature is grounding, calming and peace inducing, so take off your shoes and feel the earth!
+ Ask for support.
Honey it's time to lay down the mask, let your vulnerability be free and lean in to some help.
Your sisters, friends, family and community WANT to be there for you!
When in it, overwhelm can feel debilitating and crippling.
You can change this pattern though, with some devoted focus, intentional mindfulness and real desire to create new neural pathways.
I do hope that if you are feeling the siren song of overwhelm close by that some of my tools ease the burden and offer you a way out.
I would LOVE to hear how overwhelm shows up in your life and any tools that have worked wonders for you so please leave a comment below.
Wishing you a week of peace and presence with all that is.