Do you have a close, personal relationship with worry? Does your imagination run away with itself chasing the worst possibilities? Do you experience sleepless nights filled with nagging apprehension and woe? And most importantly, are you ready to stop feeling overwhelmed and find some joy??
I know worry and overwhelm; I was the queen of worry and overwhelm. No wonder I have dark circles under my eyes, I didn’t sleep for years so now they are permanent! (Thank goodness for concealer.) I worried about money, safety, love, control and how I looked to the world. I overbooked myself because I could never say no to anyone because that meant I couldn’t do it all and wasn’t good enough. To me, worry and overwhelm were interwoven and tied tightly to my self-worth. I had a terrible time saying no (and still do!) but I don’t connect the two anymore because worry is out of the picture 99% of the time.
Here’s a fun example:
5:42 pm on a Tuesday
Daughter: “Mom, I need you to make candy sushi for school.”
Me: “Ok, when?”
Daughter: “For tomorrow”
Me (in my head): Eye oll… Hmmm…it’s bagel day tomorrow which, of course, means buttering and cream cheesing 350+ bagels in the morning. Why did I volunteer for that again? I do have 6 chairs to upholster for a client for delivery on Thursday and can’t be late because I promised and I need the money to pay a bill and – oh! – the cat has a vet appointment, but I can probably squeeze in a batch of candy sushi.
Me (out loud): “Oh, okay, for your class?”
Daughter: “The whole 4th grade.”
Me (with a knot starting to form in my belly and calculating the time and cost in my head for Rice Krispies, marshmallows, Fruit Roll Ups, Twizzlers, and gummy worms): “Sure, I will buy the stuff when Daddy gets home.”
We hug and she happily runs off to play while I vomit in the kitchen trash can wondering how on earth will I get all of this done.
Please tell me you’re laughing and can relate?! I know I’m laughing recalling those days, but I can tell you I was worrying and overwhelmed. Even though none of this was life-threatening, it felt exhausting.
Feeling overburdened is an important message from your body and, however irrational, the stress and physical responses are real! They rob you of your joy and your peace.
After years of working on my control issues, self-worth, confidence and mindset, I finally learned and understood that the more I worried and overburdened myself, the more negativity I brought into my life. So simple, right? Nope! Life is filled with reasons to worry but when I started looking at it all from a different perspective, asking myself questions and actually dealing with it instead of letting it paralyze me, everything changed. I’ve learned that there are a few simple steps we can take to stop feeling overwhelmed and find our joy once more.
5 Tools to Help You Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
When you feel that knot in your belly beginning to form, your mind starts to race and you’re short of breath…
- Pause…just stop.
- Close your eyes and take the deepest breath that you can and imagine yourself dropping down into your heart space. This and your gut are where your truth lies.
- Acknowledge the feeling. Identify it. Label it. This may help to diffuse things.
- Continue focusing on deep breaths. This is the key to settling the panic.
- Give your body and mind these moments to assess and ask yourself these questions – Does this problem or situation truly belong to me? Why is this making me so anxious? Is there someone else who can help me with this?
- As you ask yourself each question, pause and think about the first feeling and thought that comes to mind. You may think ok, I can handle this, or you may need to regroup and explore further.
When you’re not sure what to do next…
Depending on your mindset prior to the episode, you may be able to manage the situation or you may need to work through it more thoroughly. Chances are these sticky thoughts have not disappeared. Journaling, to-do lists, brain dumps, prayer, meditation, breath work and moving into the present moment are all tools that can put things into perspective. Getting words down on paper and re-reading them can help us to see that things may not be as dire as you felt earlier or that a task might actually be manageable or can be delegated to someone else.
When you get caught in a loop…
Pay attention to your thoughts and words. Try not to obsess over and exaggerate the situation. Thoughts can be rewired to be positive instead of negative. Ask yourself “What is the worst thing that can happen?” and write down those thoughts. Change the negative words in what you just listed to something positive. (Try a thesaurus or WordHippo for some word ideas!) You will likely find that there is a solution, and I can tell you from experience, positive thoughts, and vibrations will bring good things into your life. I will share how in the next issue of The Turquoise Iris Journal.
When you’re feeling stuck…
Reach out to someone you trust. Someone that is not emotionally tied to your current situation can often listen carefully to your words and repeat them back to you so you hear what you have been thinking. They can also provide that change in perspective that you need or an idea to help you move forward.
When you can’t sleep…
This is perhaps my favorite tip because sleep is so very important. If you can’t sleep, count backward from 300. Not 300, 299, 298 but speak the numbers aloud in your mind…three hundred, two hundred ninety-nine, two hundred ninety-eight – you get the idea. I rarely make it past two hundred fifty before I am snoring. Try it out. I’d love to hear your feedback!
What To Do After You Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
Once you stop feeling overwhelmed and things settle down enough for you to feel good again, it is time to start a practice to help yourself manage future worry and overwhelm. These things helped me:
- Find a spiritual or support group with an excellent leader who truly listens to what you are saying. Learn from the group and the teacher as you are all likely experiencing similar circumstances.
- Keep positivity front and center with sticky notes, artwork or journal entries with phrases like:
- I am doing the best that I can, this doesn’t define me
- This feeling will pass
- I will do what I can when I can do it
- Practice self-care. I know, everyone says this, but that’s because it is true! For creatives like us, self-care looks like practicing our craft, getting out in nature, seeing the beauty in the simplest things. It is also moving our bodies, dancing, listening to music, reading, eating nutritionally dense food, getting enough sleep, praying, meditating, and sharing time with loved ones! You will find that all these things help you stop feeling overwhelmed and will guarantee joy in your life.
- Learn to prioritize and to say no… Yeah, we will all have to keep working on this one.
Imagine what your life will be like when you stop feeling overwhelmed! We all take on too much, or a serious problem arises in our lives, and we are left feeling stuck, panicked, and stressed about everything at once. These tips I’ve shared will help you to maintain balance and joy in your life. Remember your boundaries, create systems, rely on those that you love and trust, and don’t shut down and breathe, breathe, breathe! You will be able to stop feeling overwhelmed and, instead, embrace joy, confidence, power, and an overwhelming zest for life.
Other artists tell Patty Levine, artist and owner of Ooh! I LoveThat, that she brings a calming presence to any space she enters, but as someone who tests cars while constantly traveling for her full-time job and runs Ooh! I Love That on the side, her life is anything but calm! View Patty’s Full Bio