Overcoming Overwhelm

Most Mondays when I want to write, I go for a long walk with Boo, and the ideas flow. But today, no flow. This latest round with the Pandemic has set me on my side a bit, and I have to admit, I’m feeling off-centre. With so much coming at us at warp speed from all sides, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and hard to know where to place our attention.  It’s natural to be concerned or to feel frustration or despair, but how do we stay centred? How do we keep those feelings from running the show?

As I reflected on my own overwhelm today, I couldn’t think of a better thing for me to remember for myself and to share with you the things that help me stay centered?  So here they are, in no particular order: 

1.  Stay Organised.  You thought I was going to lead off with yoga or meditation, didn’t you?  😉  But not being able to find your keys, losing your glasses, or forgetting your password (again) are unnecessary and completely avoidable stressors. It’s amazing how much organising your space helps clear your head.

2. MOVE. This one is a non-negotiable for me. Yoga, obviously.  But sometimes an industrial-strength session at the gym, or a run, or dancing until your drop clears you out energetically and leaves you feeling freshly inspired and hopeful.

3.  Self Care. Do something once a week, for no other reason than it makes you happy. 

4. Eat Fruits and Veggies. A couple of years ago I heard about an Aussie study published in BMJ Journals that found that eating 5-7 servings of fresh produce daily can reduce stress levels by 14% in middle-aged adults, and a whopping 23% in middle-aged women. This is something I try to do each day. I’m not always successful, but I feel noticeably different on the days when I get there.

5.  Sleep.  In his book Why We Sleep,  Matthew Walker says “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” Sleep is a powerful stress reliever. It improves concentration, sharpens mood, and improves judgment and decision-making. A lack of sleep reduces not only mental clarity, but our ability to cope with stressful situations. Most adults need 7 or more hours each night.

6.  Laugh. Find the videos on YouTube that make you double over laughing. Get together with friends who lift your spirits.  According to Mayo Clinic, laughter stimulates many of our organs, decreases blood pressure, activates your immune system, relieves pain, and increases feelings of well-being. Plus it’s just fun! 

7. Meditate. This doesn’t have to mean sitting cross-legged and being still. There are thousands of meditation techniques, and some of them involve moving!  The key to having a thriving meditation practice is to find a technique that suits YOU. There are teachers who specialise in helping you explore different meditation techniques, let me know and I can hook you up.

As we face the month ahead, I want to offer a gentle reminder to be kind to yourself, and to others. These times are beyond hard. You are doing enough. You ARE enough. We can get through this together. 

© Julie Smerdon 2022

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