Overwhelm: (v.) To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.
I looked up this definition because it’s a feeling I have been experiencing a lot this week and wanted to see what Webster had to say about it, and it ended up hitting pretty close to home. To drown, a sight and experience that I wish I didn’t have such an intimate and vivid picture of in my brain. Breath keeps us from drowning. I know what the absence of breath looks like, it’s very scary. I have learned on so many levels, whether it was seeing my youngest child deprived of it after pulling him out of our backyard pool almost 10 years ago, to the life I feel when I take it in on my yoga mat and know that I am not drowning under the pressures I put on myself, and simply need to slow it down and stay present. I have seen and experienced life at both it’s fullest and most fragile edges, and it has given me a perspective that benefits me every day.
Sometimes we have to walk through the worst to come to the
realization of what is great in life.
Nonetheless, overwhelm is a real feeling and one of the first signs of anxiety. When it hits you, even when we set goals with the greatest intentions, and action needs to be taken to get there (as is always the case), the feeling of where do I start or go next can be crippling. I used to mistake overwhelm for laziness because of that feeling of shutdown, but I understand now, that it’s time to break down things in small bite size pieces and attack them one at a time. I have found that multitasking is actually the killer of efficiency and quality work, and only adds to my feelings of chaos. Presence, rather than letting my mind think too far ahead, beats back the overwhelm.
The antidote for overwhelm…faith, presence and solitude.
I’m grateful that I learned from a young age that solitude was a great calmer of my spirit. I remember even when I was young, wanting to retreat to my room to be alone, not in a depressed way, but to slow things down and give me time to figure them out. I was also always the first one up at a slumber party as a kid, and had to be super quiet with slumbering roommates in college. But thankfully those situations sent me outside where it was quiet and I discovered the pink light, the peace of the morning, and the almost immediate relief of any feelings of anxiety or overwhelm. Being outside also brings my mind back to a more awefilled, child like state, which is one of the quickest ways to shake off some of the heaviness we put on our adult lives. To me, there is no better feeling than when the world is still quiet. In the morning, anything is possible.
After I had my second child 17 years ago, I would wake with a racing heart, sure something bad had happened or was about to, and found myself walking the hallways, checking on my two little ones incessantly, until that pink light would come over the horizon and the feeling would almost instantly fade away. Morning brings on a newness and a peace that is different than the fullness of the rest of the day. It’s the time to get set, breath, and focus on what lies ahead. Morning routine for me is tea or coffee, fresh air, deep breathing/meditation/prayer and exercise. Then the day goes on from there, and I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way. Maybe this is why I’m flying through this new book The 5am Club by Robin Sharma I’m halfway through after buying the book after listening to the author on this podcast, and already consider it a must read for anyone interested in personal growth and improving the world around them.
Last but not least, last because it ties it all together, faith…my other great reliever of anxiety and overwhelm. My faith gives me the knowledge that there is something greater than my own experience, that wants me to seek and be fulfilled, and yet loves me just as I am today, gives me the freedom to swing for the fence and miss, or hit a home run and know that I am enough either way. As long as my intentions are good, and the work I put in is honest and diligent, I just need to be myself and go for it with my best judgment and the rest isn’t mine to hold. The world is full of variables that I can’t control, but I don’t have to because it’s being handled by a power far greater than me.
It’s Easter weekend, and I am so grateful for this faith that has brought me through painful moments and transformed me from my most afraid to a stronger and brighter person that can bring optimism and hope on every day, not just the shiny ones. I talk often about faith being different than religion. Faith is personal, between you and a higher power, based on your exposure and upbringing. I long ago stopped trying to answer the questions of who is going where and who is right, knowing it isn’t up to me to judge. I know that the judgment and imperfections of people can get in the way of how we experience our own faith, I’ve felt it firsthand so many times and it makes me momentarily uncomfortable. But the beauty, grace, and strength that my faith has given me comes from a source so much deeper than the imperfections that come with being human. My faith is the pink light on the horizon telling me, this world may not be perfect, but it’s yours…slow down, enjoy what I have created for you and help make it better one moment at a time. No need to feel overwhelmed, I’ve got it handled. Happy Easter!