How to Handle Overwhelm
Sometimes, the complexity of our lives can start to bear down on us. We all are juggling so much. Financial strain, overwhelm at work, difficult relationships with our colleagues or even with those we love most. Even playing too hard while on vacation (does anyone out there need a vacation from their vacation?) can leave us feeling tired and frayed. Just wanting to truly relax. All of these daily stresses take a toll and can hurt our hearts. It’s easy to feel vulnerable and to get pulled under by doubt.
This ache in the heart can be especially poignant in summertime, the season of the heart in Chinese Medicine. This season is supposed to be a season of fun and play, but it’s possible to play or to push too hard and to end up feeling overwhelmed.
I recently reached a moment of overwhelm myself. I realized that summer was starting to come to a close and I felt panicked and spread too thin. I realized that soon we would hit autumn and everything in nature, including me, would start slowing down. What about all of that stuff I meant to do? It might never get done.
I made lists but didn’t feel motivated to do them. The summer heat kept me lazy. The lists got longer until finally I realized that the only answer was to stop and do nothing.
That’s right? One approach to start to recover from overwhelm is to DO NOTHING.
By “nothing” I don’t mean watching lots of Netflix (I tried that too and it was fun for awhile but left me feeling worse), or even escaping into a really good book. I’m talking about really letting go of it all, pledging not to be productive, and taking a day where you spend time with yourself rather than spend time distracting or improving (pedicure, anyone?) yourself.
I took that day today and took 2 (yes, 2) glorious naps, laid on the couch, took a 10 minute walk looking for cats (without success, the kitties know when it’s too hot to sit outside, even on a shaded porch), ate some walnuts (my brain felt mushy and I wanted the omega 3 fatty acids), laid on the couch some more, and asked my boyfriend for a cup of tea from the kitchen. This whole process took about 6 hours. At 10am this morning I made a pledge to let myself do nothing till 5pm. By 4:00, I felt recovered. To celebrate, I made a batch of grain-free cookies without refined sugar and called it a day.
Ironically, after truly doing nothing, I was ready to sit down and write this blog post, which, admittedly, is late, but I bet you haven’t memorized my publication schedule yet, so it can be our secret. Sometimes we have to really surrender before we can have space to do what needs to be done.