The mix of feelings that makes up being overwhelmed can be paralyzing. When I try to avoid, run, or cover up when I’m in overwhelm, I go into a state of depression. This is my pattern. I go through my days in autopilot. Losing my keys, phone, and forgetting things regularly. Filling my space both physically and emotionally with clutter—chaos. When I’m in a state of being overwhelmed, I struggle to use ANY of the tools I know to move me out of the darkness. Those are the times I’m lost in the weeds.
It’s in this place that I know the weeds are taking over the garden of my soul. My thoughts and unmanaged feelings fertilized the weeds to grow. My lack of doing the work to maintain my garden made it possible for the weeds to take over. So just like in a physical garden, I ask myself, “Where do I begin?” The thought of getting it all done is way too much when I’m stuck in a place of being overwhelmed. I’ve learned the only way out is to take a step and focus where my feet are. What is one small thing I can do right now to start the process?
I start with little things:
- I can clean up this table.
- I can throw out the trash.
- I can make my bed.
- I can take a shower.
- I can be mindful, stay present, and breathe consciously while I’m washing my hands.
Now, there might be days when I just focus on doing those little things. Then I notice the more little things I accomplish, the more things I have energy to take on. This is movement—progress. If my overwhelmed state has moved into depression, this is a BIG step.
Once I notice I can move through those little things without being in a state of overwhelmed, I take on bigger and more time consuming tasks. Our tasks are all going to be different, but here is just an example of things I might choose to do in this stage:
- Clean out the drawers of my dresser
- Organize closet
- Catch-up on laundry
- Write a piece
- Meditate for 15 minutes
- Transformational breathing for 15 minutes
- Take a 30 minute walk
- Stretch for 20 minutes
- Make myself a smoothie
Please don’t look at this like a list. These are just some things I might do one task at a time. I might complete all these things in a day, week, or month. It’s not about doing it all, it’s about what I can do now. When I’m in overwhelm making a list overwhelms me more, but not everyone is like that. If a list helps you in phase, do it. For me, I usually get through taking on some bigger tasks one at a time before I’m ready to make a list and/or schedule for myself.
I also don’t put any time limit on how long I will be in this phase. Just taking one task at a time for a few hours might be all I need to move into another place. Once that feeling of being paralyzed breaks up is when I feel safe to name my feelings.
For me, if I don’t name my feelings, I’m on a fast track back to overwhelm and depression. I will start doing things that aren’t good for me EVERY time I avoid looking at how I REALLY feel. If this resonates with you, join me tomorrow to look at naming the feelings and what we can do NOW to help them move through us the way they are meant to.
Notice that I don’t say, “I’m overwhelmed.” Being overwhelmed is not a part of my identity. When I say, “I’m “, it’s because in that moment I’ve made it part of who I am. When I’m there it’s harder for me to see that it’s not permanent. Just the slight variation on how I word it helps me to see that being overwhelmed is transient. This too shall pass.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff, author of Letters from a Better Me and host of the From A Loving Place with Rachael Wolff podcast.
3 responses to “What Can I Do Now? #1 Overwhelmed”
Dearest Rachael…..I just want to thank you for bringing me back to reality when I get to involved with myself…I lost my wife Sharon in November after being together 29 years…your podcasts and thoughts have been extremely helpful ….miss you my friend……CINDY
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Cindy, I’m so sorry to hear about Sharon. I miss you too! I’m glad you are finding support here. 💜🙏
[…] Yesterday, I talked about being overwhelmed. If I try to look at this when I’m already in a state of overwhelm, I sometimes make it worse. But…if I catch myself before I hit the overwhelm button using this technique can often keep me from hitting it. If I’ve already hit the big red overwhelm button, I start with getting out of that place first (see #1 Overwhelmed). […]