I often find myself in a state of overwhelm. It’s an all too familiar pattern and feeling. Many times, most times, I feel the tug between several things I love doing—just not all at once. With the highly charged and emotional atmosphere that is our world today, it can be easy to slip into a spiral of overwhelm and powerlessness. We must stay vigilant and aware about how we show up in the mix each day.
We have a saying on The Wilderness Walk trail: if you want to see what you ordered, then take a look at what’s on your plate. And that’s the good news! You are the one with the power to make the shift away from overwhelm and back into the flow of ease.
Here are some actionable ways to rise up out of a spiral of overwhelm:
1 – Celebrate your awareness.
How many people do you know that simply bump through life without any idea that there could be another way? But you have found a way to say, “Uncle.” That’s no small feat. If you’re in overwhelm, it’s likely because you are capable of juggling many things (whether you want to or not) and have been generously giving of your time and self. Take a few breaths and write a list of the things you’ve done well today, this week, this year. Celebrate your abilities and accomplishments. (You have many—come on, I know you do!)
2 – Inventory what’s on your plate and prioritize.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. In order to enact change, we have to be honest about the here and now. Use these questions and prompts to take stock of the tasks that overflow into your serenity. Write your responses in a journal, notebook or computer screen:
What must I absolutely accomplish today, this week, this month? Stop there. You can ask yourself this question again tomorrow or next month.
~ Which items on this list do I love doing?
~ Which items wear me out and drain me?
~ If I didn’t have to do (item on the list), I would feel…
~I f only I had more time to (item on the list), I would feel…
~ With the items that drain you, get honest and ask yourself why you’re doing them? Categorize them in buckets that make sense to you (family, income, health, etc).
~ If I don’t do (item on the list), what will happen? (Hint: the world will keep spinning.)
Get really clear on what you have to have on your plate and what can fall off.
3 – Choose a permanent #1 on your list.
We’ve all heard that “we can’t give from an empty cup.” I’ve known that intellectually but have struggled to allow it settle into my heart and daily actions. I’ll create a robust morning routine to nurture my spiritual and creative life only to falter from my commitment to self a few days later. What I have found helpful is to have one thing, only one, that I commit to each day that is solely for me. And it’s the first thing I do in the morning—I take three conscious, mindful breaths when my feet hit the ground. That short pause neutralizes the monkey mind long enough for me to decide how I want to show today. Now, I have a long this of other nurturing activities that I incorporate on any given day (journaling, prayers, singing in the shower, yoga stretches, kissing my puppy’s sweet face). What is one thing you can commit to each day to put yourself as your #1 on your priority list?
4 – Be your own gatekeeper and advocate.
Oh, how I have waited for someone to come save me from myself! Then I remember that I just took stock and inventory of what’s on my plate—that I allowed on my plate. I alone get to determine what else I am willing to add to it. This is true for the type of media I consume, the people whom I invite into my life, when I say “yes” or “no.” If you’ve offered up your already full plate time and time again, others will gladly give you another serving. You’ve taught them that you’ll take it. You also now have a greater awareness of which helpings actually serve you or deplete you. Protect your plate.
5 – Ask for help.
This might be one of the scariest things on the planet for us people-pleasing, do-gooders. We’re the helpers! I’ve come to the awareness that others have been waiting in the wings for the opportunity to hear my, “Help.” Who am I to block that joy-filled experience for another who finds a little self-esteem and purpose by putting their hand out to me?! I have to remember that there is courage and strength in letting another human walk with me, and that a problem shared is a problem lessened. Don’t go it alone, brave one!
Would you like to find others who are willing to help each other?
We would love to hear from you. Share one thing you are willing to do for yourself today in the comments below. You can also connect with other like-minded souls here on Facebook.
Walker – Costa Rica