To many people, the year 2020 feels like the gift that keeps on giving. Trying to get through any day can be an exercise in mental strength and acuity. A pandemic, global warming, financial recession, unemployment, national security, and an uncertain political landscape, can be dizzying, exhausting, and anxiety-producing. Watching the latest news reports can send even the most unshakable person into a panic attack.
If this sounds familiar, remember you are not alone. Overwhelm happens to just about everyone at one time or another. The good news is that there are things you can do to mitigate the impact and get out of it. Here are a few of my favorite ways to overcome overwhelm.
Write down worries. Write down everything that you’re overwhelmed about, this is referred to as a brain dump. Writing thoughts helps to declutter the mind so you can think more clearly. Clearer thinking leads to rational thinking, so thoughts aren’t driven by fear. A clear mind helps to gain a new perspective and it will help you release emotions.
Once you have written down your concerns, examine them for their validity. Look at each item objectively. Ask: Is it true? Is there anything I can do about it? If nothing can be done, then release what you cannot control. As the serenity prayer states, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." If you determine that there are things you can do to lessen the helpless feeling, then take action!
Take a break. When you feel overwhelmed, your mind is full of stressful thoughts and this can create a vicious cycle, known as the fear - anxiety cycle. Fear brings on anxiety and anxiety brings on more fear. Taking a break allows your mind to reset, helping to recharge and replenish mental and emotional energy. Go for a walk, call a friend, meditate, or take part in any practice that shifts thoughts from those causing fear. Allow your mind to slow down and rest.
Unplug. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available, then consume less of it! Limit watching the news to one time per day. Turn off phone and computer notifications. Don’t talk incessantly about the negatives of the world. You have the power to control what you allow into your life.
Practice gratitude. It is easy to get caught up focusing on what we don’t have or what is wrong with the world. Stop placing your attention on what’s missing or lacking and shift your thoughts to what is positive. Be grateful for it all, even the little things. When you come from a place of abundance, you are content and live in peace.
Remember, you may not be able to calm the storm, but you can always calm yourself.