My immediate antidote to overwhelm
'Hurry!', you think to yourself. 'Do it better. Do more. Sign up for that and finish that other thing off.' You start panting as the pressure builds and your problems start to stack up.
We all have these not-good-enough thoughts at some stage and some of us are more prone to them than others. I used to feel overwhelmed quite often and I eventually learned a way of dealing with it. A way to handle the stress and the people pissing me off and the rush I feel I'm in when a thought frenzy begins.
I'd start feeling like there was so much to do and I'd never achieve it all. And then I started to think about unrelated stuff I had to do and add it to the list. It all built up and suddenly I was 'behind' like there was a deadline I wouldn't meet that was completely fictitious.
Layers and layers of worries, thoughts and stresses built one on top of the other. If I didn’t manage them properly I’d usually end up in tears feeling like I was the least productive person in the world and I’d label myself a failure.
I have now learnt that the number one thing I can do to stop the spiral of overwhelmed feelings is this...
Literally walk away. This may seem counter-intuitive and you might think this would add to those thoughts of not getting enough done. But the point of doing this is to silence the thoughts. Whether you are building those layers of worry or not, the fact is you are still in the same place on your to-do list.
So go for a walk to the closest patch of nature. If you live in a city, go and find a park. If you live by the sea, go and walk along the coast. If you're at work, take a coffee break and find a tree to sit under if you have to. And when you get there…
Notice the temperature of the air, the colour of the leaves, the sounds of the birds. Notice the smell of the season, the air filling your lungs. Look a little closer at the shapes of the plants and feel the grass under your feet. Notice the shapes of the clouds, the feeling of rain on your shoulders or the warmth of the sun.
By walking away and refocusing on nature, you are putting yourself in a meditative state and relaxing the mind. You are taking your mind from a 3 lane roundabout to a quiet country lane. It’s a lot easier to relax and make the right decisions when you have less thought traffic to deal with.
And often times, with some space and clarity, you'll realise how small your problems are in the grand scheme of life.