Body, Mind & Spirit

4 Tips for When You Feel Overwhelmed

December 4, 2020

Let’s face it, the world as we know it is shifting rapidly, and we are in a constant state of unknown. As humans, we have been conditioned to seek security, comfort, and control. But all of those things are illusions created by our mind to keep us safe. What happens when you feel totally overwhelmed, and the mind spirals out of control into all of the what-if scenarios? Not only is this one of the most common ways we abandon ourselves unconsciously, it also puts our nervous system into fight or flight mode. Depending on your life and soul history, you likely have a pattern you follow (whether conscious or not) when this sensation of fear and overwhelm gets activated.

You may have heard to simply quiet the mind, and if that works for you, amazing! However, I have found with myself and my clients that most of us don’t have access to absolute stillness and peace when we are in that state of compromised safety. Instead, I prefer turning toward and illuminating the feelings, sensations, and thoughts so they can be seen and held, and thus integrated into our experience. This not only helps sooth us in the moment, but expands our tool belt and strengthens our muscle for the next time we begin to feel triggered into overwhelm.

Below are my 4 tips!

  1. Move! One of my favorite practices is ecstatic dancing. Not only does this give a rush of endorphins, it also activates the awareness of the body (instead of spiraling out in the mind). 

Action: Put on a song that instantly makes your body want to move. Close your eyes, and let it all go. There is no such thing as too much, nor too weird. After you feel like it’s time to find stillness, stand with your feet hip distance apart, with one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart, and give yourself a few breaths. You may ask yourself what it is that you need to know that will support you in returning back from overwhelm, or you may simply notice the way you feel.

  1. Write it… Free form writing is one of the practices I use daily. You may have heard of it if you’ve ever done ‘The Morning Pages’. Essentially it is a brain dump of anything that is floating in your mind. This is not a moment for a dear diary entry that you will save and leave for your grandkids to find in your attic 😂 , but a literal scribbling of anything that comes to mind. It is extremely freeing because it gives the space for all of the thoughts you have been holding in, to spill out without needing to be fixed.

Action: Get a piece of paper and simply start writing. Continue until you have absolutely nothing else coming to your mind.

  1. Vocalize it! As language loving beings, we seriously lack in the verbal communication department. How many times have you tried to express how you feel only to find yourself emotionally charged, or completely speechless in the moment, but then full of words when the conversation is over (me!). This is especially true when we feel our safety is being compromised (this looks like judging, shaming, abandonment etc). While this could certainly be done with another person, I recommend doing it alone, as we are not seeking validation, nor someone to try and solve the overwhelm for us (remember, these are tools to build self sovereignty!).

Action: Find a quiet place where you can be loud, without feeling self conscious. If your house is full, sitting inside a parked car is a great option. Similar to the free form writing, begin to speak the first thing that you feel.

Ex. “I’m afraid that ____ will happen.” Or “I’m angry that ____.” Or “I feel sad about ____.”

Notice the feelings that are complete, meaning they simply exist and need to be expressed, vs. the ones that begin to spiral you away from yourself. (ex. future based fears). For these, you can speak the fear and then ask yourself “Okay, and then what if that happens?” Making the fear or emotion as big and wild as it needs to be until it breaks into something else (laughter and tears are common).

  1. Connect in Nature. Fortunately, for most of us as active women, we not only enjoy being outside, but our sports take place in some form of nature. I find such solace and expanded awareness at the barn, the beach, or in other places where I can connect with the earth. 

Action: Go to a quiet place in nature, but instead of playing your sport or getting on your horse, see what happens to the way you feel when there is no end goal (ex. finishing a ride, playing 9 holes, getting a good workout in etc.). Take slow steps and long breaths. Feel your feet on the Earth, listen to the sounds you hear, notice the shifts in color and the sensations on your skin as you get more internally still. Nature is an astounding teacher and sensory awakener.

I’d love to hear if any of these tips helped you, or if you have a practice that you’d like to share with others! I’ve created a playlist of songs that support me in returning home to internal alignment and peace.

I have a meditation for leaning into your fears, if you desire a deeper, more guided practice.

If you’d like to learn more about my journey, my book is available here on our webshop!

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