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5 Tips to Deal with Overwhelm

Reverence Events Perth

When I feel the old superhighway of overwhelm come on – a rollercoaster taking me up up into crushing anxiety, then speeding down down down into foggy headed depressive self-pity (which can all happen very fast). I say to myself “Time to intervene.“


Our old family friend overwhelm…

The state of overwhelm is an old family friend of mine.

In the past, a good visit from overwhelm would have resulted in a day of tears, collapse and such foggy thinking that I wouldn’t have been able to get anything done.

Then of course…the self-recrimination would have started, shifting the bulk of the emotion from overwhelm through self-criticism and down on into pure self-pity.

I would pull up the flag for a self-pity party for ONE.
What a predictable path of energy movement we can condition our mind/body to walk (or run) down.
Anyone relate?
Now it’s different, and it can be for you too.

When I feel the old superhighway of overwhelm come on – a rollercoaster taking me up up into crushing anxiety, then speeding down down down into foggy headed depressive self-pity (which can all happen very fast).

I say to myself “Time to intervene.“

The deliberate choice to intervene is the point of power.

Yes, the feelings can come on fast and strong, but you are not a victim in this scenario.

Choosing to bring in your personal arsenal of supportive tools is essential. Not to repress, but to take charge.

A spiral into overwhelm generally doesn’t teach you anything, doesn’t support you and doesn’t contribute to the well-being of those around you.

It is time to use what can be called your Business Heart.


My example of handling a bout of overwhelm

The last time I really experienced the rush of overwhelm – this is the process I followed: 

1. My first go-to, the Heart-Focused Breathing Technique from The HeartMath Institute (shifting my attention out of my head and down to my heart and then breathing slowly and deeply, imagining that the breath is moving in and out my heart area). This interrupted the pattern, soothed my the nervous system and allowed me to think a little more clearly.
2. I then sat and used a 15 minute guided meditation (by Willow Francis) following the Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion’s theme of “Soften, Soothe and Allow”. This allowed me to get much more immediate with what was actually going on in my body. To name, feel, soothe and kindly allow the feelings without the narrative. I felt a softening, and new perspective came.
3. I realised that the task that resulted in the movement into overwhelm didn’t actually have to be done today. It was MY timeline and I could change it. (once I had soothed my body, I could consciously change the unsupportive narrative)
4. I then “Took some significance out” of the situation (a powerful phrase from The HeartMath Institute) and focused on the good things in my life and what was going well (Mindful Gratitude Practice).
5. In this more coherent state, I was then able to identify what I COULD do that would be self-caring and productive, but not forced or challenging – and I praised myself for my progress.
6. I also moved off the computer and did some practical tasks that made me feel clearer – I put clean clothes away, cleaned the kitchen benches and swept the deck.
As the afternoon moved on, the feeling had shifted and I was actually inspired to get into the task that had overwhelmed me earlier in the day. I had fun with it and the content I created had integrity.


What this example gives you is 5 important tips


1. Prioritise cultivating a clear and effective toolkit that you can lean into when you are in the weeds. Even using the Heart-focused breathing technique described above can be a powerful first aid tool for you

2. Practice using your tools regularly and consistently enough that they have the power to support you when overwhelm arrives

3. Remember that you do have a CHOICE in these times. That you are not a victim to the movement of your feelings, but can choose to respond actively, kindly and maturely

4. That in the face of this choice…take genuine action (don’t just think about taking action). Emotions are strong, and need “The Business Heart” to respond to them in the most mature ways possible. You need the commitment to shift both your physiology and psychology. There is no point just “getting on with things” at this time. You need to settle and re-set your body and mind first.

5. Know that when you do use your Business Heart – everyone benefits! This is good motivation. As HeartMath Institute founder says “Emotional regulation is the caretaker of love

In Conclusion

Overwhelm can be a scary and intense state, but you can commit to taking charge of it and learning how to navigate yourself back to balance. In fact, this is a primary skill to cultivate, especially in this crazy, complex and fast-paced environment we are currently immersed in.

If I can, you can too.

If you have worked with Willow or I in the near or distant past, and you have access to any of the powerful tools you have learned from us – revisit them…re-commit to them.

It is worth it.
If you have your own tools that you have let go – bring them back!

If you don’t have an effective toolkit right now, or want to learn more – please reach out.
You can learn more about working with us 1:1 via our page here.
We also have a free guide called “The State of Ease” which is very supportive for handling overwhelm. Access it here.

And, you can check out our Event Calendar for any upcoming events and course.

Thanks for reading and let us know how you go!

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