What do you do when you are in a situation that makes you feel overwhelmed?
I have quite a demanding work schedule, family and friends circle. I am also a doctorate student who has refused to give up her social life and on top of all that I am planning my wedding. Scrap that, re-organising my wedding because of the pandemic.
My standard response to most things is ‘Yeah, I’m fine’ or ‘Yeah, sure I’ll do that for you’ and often it is no problem at all. However, over the past two weeks I have found myself feeling particularly overwhelmed to the point that I’ve actually broken out with hives.
Now hives can occur for a number of reasons – an allergic reaction, pollen and certain plants, dust mites, sunlight, certain chemicals but in my case it is most likely stress.
I do believe I have good coping mechanisms for stress in general – I have a good sleep routine, I practise yoga, I meditate and I also generally eat well. But despite all of that – I have broken out in one of the most uncomfortable things imaginable. Honestly, I just can’t stop itching no matter how hard I try.
I believe that I am experience what can only be described as a sense of being overwhelmed. Like everything has got on top of me and I have reached my overall limit.
Have you heard of the stress bucket? If you haven’t then I’d like you to take a moment to have a look at this:
The above is a great illustration as to why you ‘get to where you get to’ in terms of stress. Doing positive things that improve your mood, help you to relax and enhance your feeling of joy are going to naturally decrease your stress levels.
What I’ve found though since being in lockdown is that the things that bring me joy have started to lessen. For example, at the weekend I would usually go out and see friends and family or in the week I’d have a trip to the cinema or to a restaurant. I’d also have a routine that I would follow alongside having events dotted out throughout the year to look forward to. That would make the stressful aspects of life easier to manage.
What does life look like right now?
However, if we look at life right now… we’re living in a very unexpected way. Isolated from our loved ones – my family centres around my grandparents but both of them are vulnerable and so despite some restrictions being lifted, that integral part of my life is still missing.
I’m also finding that I am spending more hours working than I was before – before that’s because my desk is in the kitchen which means that I work while I cook dinner!
Additionally to that, when we’re in the house – there’s lots of jobs to do! Clothes to eBay, rooms to paint, gardening to do and alongside that when you’re looking after vulnerable people, you’ve got make sure they are safe and cared for while also protecting yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19. There’s a lot to think about and then when you layer on planning a wedding (well moving a wedding) and buying a house as well as managing the egos that you live with… it can all get a bit much.
One final point, I’d like to add is about the news and the media – there is a lot going on in the world not just with the daily briefings around COVID-19 but also the Black Lives Matter – I have to say that as an Indian woman, I have a lot of opinions around racism and so this has impacted me quite heavily.
How to overcome that feeling of being overwhelmed?
1) Take a moment to breathe: If you don’t meditate then I would wholeheartedly recommend this. A moment of quiet reflections does wonders to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Not just that – it forces you to pause and actually stop. Often we’re on the go all the time and we’re thinking that we’re relaxing but we’re not. If I think about my day so far today… I’ve been working but while I’ve been doing that, I’ve been dealing with an employee issues, batch cooking kitchen to put in the freezer and baking a raspberry and coconut loaf! That’s a lot just for the start of the day! But pausing at lunchtime to just breathe, that helped to calm me down so that I could think better.
2) Do one job at a time: You can’t do everything and realistically you can only do one thing well at a time so do just that. Do one thing, focus on it until you are happy with it and then move onto your next task.
3) Be realistic with your time: we all want to believe that we can write a 20 page to do list and by the end of the day it will be done and we won’t be exhausted or sacrificed time with our loved ones to get through our lists. Most people can do 3 things in a day and so aim for three things and know that you have achieved once they are done. You’re not in a war with yourself so why are you fighting to get everything done? Prioritise what is the most important and work backward from there.
4) Talk to the people around you: don’t hold things in if you don’t need to. Tell people what you’re feeling. By telling everyone I was fine, all I’ve done is allowed my inner feelings to show on my body. Everyone knows that I am overwhelmed and I can’t hide it. Talking things through and reasoning them out can really help make things easier. Don’t bottle up your feelings.
5) Get into nature and enjoy the fresh air: walking, going for a run or just sitting in the garden are good for your soul. It’s so important to get your daily dose of vitamin D so get outside and just enjoy it. In Britain, we don’t always get the best weather but a bit of rain never hurt anyone. I’d link exercise into this as well – realising a daily dose of endorphins will do you wonders.
6) Self-care: this word is used so frequently but there is something to be said for it. Taking an evening to put on a face mask, paint your nails, read a book and listen to your favourite album from start to finish is some of the best medicine out there. It’s simple and on your terms as well.
7) Nutrition: I probably write about nutrition in every post that I write! But it’s because it is such a key part of what heals us. Eating the right food, drinking water and nourishing our bodies is so vital. When we eat badly that is reflected in our mood, in the way we talk and also in the way that we feel about ourselves. Make it easy on yourself and use food to nourish your body and help to heal you. The book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Illustrated-Food-Remedies-Sourcebook/dp/0007938829 is one of my all time go to books. There is always something in there that is healing or something that I haven’t thought of.
All in all, if you are feeling overwhelmed – take a moment and stop what you’re doing. Breathe and count to ten… let yourself feel what you’re feeling and acknowledge that you need a break. If you don’t, it’s likely you’re going to burn out or suffer in other ways – for example like me… with hives!