Overwhelm - The buzz word of the moment.
Because despite the change of the use of the word in recent years, it is a word that best describes what so many of us are feeling day to day!
To feel overwhelmed with emotions, responsibilities, demands, 'to do' lists, jobs or even ideas, seems to be commonplace in our fast-paced world.
Yet I have people asking me if what they are feeling is indeed overwhelm, so I thought it might help if I clarify it for you with 3 signs that you are overwhelmed, and of course what to do about them...
1. You feel a constant sense of urgency
You always feel like you are rushing to meet a deadline. You feel like there is never enough time in the day and you will never get everything done.
You know that if you spend too long on one thing, something else is going to suffer and you get annoyed with people making demands on your already overloaded schedule.
You envy those who have time for things that look fun to you, but you know that if you just get through this busy period you will make time for those things too... except this 'busy period' is never ending!
You fantasise of doing normal things that people who have time do, things like going for a Sunday morning swim, or a leisurely evening stroll, or perhaps watching the latest box set everyone is harping on about - which really is just more background noise sent to distract you when you just don’t have the time - but those things are a distant dream at the moment because you are far too busy for time wasting activities.
You’ll do them AFTER you’ve completed your 150 point to do list (which never seems to reduce no matter how hard you work!)
2. Your head feels like it might explode!
You’ve been ignoring the headaches for a while, putting them down to eyes that you don’t have time to get tested, or to too much time spent staring at the laptop.
You’ve bought some blue-light filtering glasses and, have a bottle of water beside you at all times and yet still seem to keep needing to reach for the paracetamol - despite the fact you hate taking pills, but what other choice do you have - things need to get done and you don’t have time for a pesky headache slowing you down.
3. You sometimes feel like you can’t breathe
You find yourself sighing all the time or needing to yawn (not surprising, given the lack of sleep you’ve suffered lately) but as well as that you keep feeling anxious, like you must have forgotten something important.
You feel a tightness, a knot in your chest, like you sometimes just can’t catch your breath.
Your already stressed out thoughts go on overdrive - maybe you’ve developed asthma, or worse still, maybe you are having a heart attack - You can’t be having one of those panic attack thingy’s that you’ve heard about, because you are convinced they are for pathetic people, not strong go-getters like yourself!
You don’t have time to stop, & thinking about it is just plain scary anyway, so you just 'man-up' and carry on regardless.
But it keeps happening...
… what if you knew that all you have to do IS breathe?
I know that sounds ridiculously obvious - Breathing goes without saying!
But breathing properly does not.
As adults, we only tend to breathe into the top 2 thirds of our lungs, leaving the bottom third a breeding ground for bacteria & germs.
This shallow breathing exacerbates anxious feelings, so learning to use the whole of your lungs to breathe deeply & effectively, not only keeps you healthier, but also alleviates your feelings of anxiety.
Now, I know that to consciously breathe deeply, means taking the time to do so, & can almost hear you scream at me for adding yet another thing to your 'to do' list!
But hear me out on this one, because it may be just the thing to relieve the pressure of that 'to do' list once and for all.
You see taking time out to pause & breathe brings about a completely new perspective on what’s going on for you.
Pausing & breathing helps you to feel what is really important for you, it can help you prioritise what really needs doing & can help you gain clarity on separating that from the rest, which really is just background noise.
When you take that moment to step out of your life and look in, you will see that actually, you have achieved a huge amount just by being here, at this point you are at right now.
Your pure existence is something massive to celebrate and be proud of.
To take time out to pause & breathe, not only switches off those stress hormones which are causing all the symptoms listed above, but also enables you to notice reasons for celebration.
You are here, you have survived all these years, you are doing a great job!
To learn, grow, expand & have ambition are wonderful parts of life yes...
But to exist, to just ‘be’ is the miracle of all miracles.
So take a moment, breathe deep and celebrate your wonderful uniqueness
You are YOU, and that is enough! :)