How To Deal With Overwhelm
People hire us as life coaches for lots of different reasons, but there's one theme that tends to show up over and over again:
In some form or another people want to figure out how to deal with overwhelm. Or make the pain or confusion go away.
It sounds a bit like this:
I'm not doing enough.
I'm not really sure what to do next.
There's too much to do.
I can't do it all.
I don't know how to start.
I can't figure out email marketing or social media.
I wake up tired.
I need a frickin' vacation.
And while we absolutely appreciate how challenging life can be at times, we want to share with you a simple tool for you to use to help you deal with overwhelm.
It's something that you can practice all day long. It's called
"Right Now, I'm Just..."
And here's how it works: The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, STOP. For 2 seconds. Stop and notice what you're doing — and thinking. And say out loud: right now, I'm just... and then say what you're doing.
Here's a quick story. Last year, Joseph was feeling overwhelmed and telling himself "OMG! We have so much going on right now! How do we fit everything we need to do into one day?"
And then he stopped.
And noticed that in that moment, the thought "we have so much going on right now" wasn't really true.
In that moment, what he noticed was that he was simply standing in the closet, putting on his pants.
His thoughts about what might or might not happen in the future were leading him to feeling overwhelmed, but when he stopped and paid attention to what was actually happening in the moment, he noticed: We don't have that much going on... right now, I'm just putting on my pants.
And the feeling of overwhelm lifted.
How did we start using this tool?
We started using this technique quite by necessity during possibly THE most stressful and scary time we've gone through together.
Almost five years ago (hard to believe!) Eli was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma and he developed severe side-effects to the chemo treatments (which he called Love Juice.)
With any sort of over-stimulus — a loud noise, a fast moving object, people talking quickly, sometimes even a fly zooming by — Eli would suffer a sort of seizure that would only go away by covering his head with a blanket, to make everything stop. The seizure would eventually dissipate.
This lasted about 4-6 weeks or so. So, we spent a lot of quiet time, on the sofa, just watching the clouds go by. It seemed endless. And when anxiety would creep in, "When is this going to end? What if this never goes away?" Joseph started saying: Right now, we're just two guys sitting on the couch watching the clouds pass by....
And, he was right. At that moment, we were fine, calm, even happy. The overwhelm and anxiety only happened when Eli worried this would never end, or when he exposed himself to stimuli that affected him (like going to the movies!)
So, we incorporated "Right now, we're just...." from then onward. And it has helped us get through many challenging times since.
We know. It sounds overly simplistic.
Yet... it works.
Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try it.
Right now, I'm just sitting in traffic.
Right now, I'm just reading emails.
Right now, I'm just watching my daughter play soccer.
Right now, I'm just taking a shower.
Right now, I'm just washing the dishes.
Right now, I'm just sitting on the couch with my dog.
Just an ordinary moment.
There's a lot to be said about being present to the ordinary moments in our lives, not just the special, extraordinary events like celebrations, vacations, or achievements.
This practice will be really helpful in bringing you back to the moment. Because, though we know you KNOW this, THIS moment, right now, is all there is. The overwhelm tends to happen in our head when thoughts start swirling out of control.
Even if you DO have a lot going on, trust in yourself. You got this. You can figure it out. One. Step. At. A. Time.
Break things down into small bites. And notice, this very moment.
Notice what's right in front of you.
And remember to BREATHE.
How beautiful is that?
And if you want to take the practice a step further you can add 2 bonus steps:
1. Add that you're grateful for it, and 2. say why.
Right now, I'm just sitting in a chair. And I'm grateful for it because it means I'm giving myself a chance to rest, and I don't have to do anything but breathe...
Yes, life sometimes gets complicated. Things happen outside our control. Emotions run high and we get stuck or confused about how to move forward.
It's OK. You're not broken. You're just like the rest of us. Being a human on this planet. Shit happens sometimes. If it feels like too much, bring yourself to Right now, I'm just...
Be kind to yourself, and remember that whatever it is, it's temporary.
We hope you'll find this tip helpful. Let us know how it's working for you.
And PLEASE SHARE with the rest of us in the comments below other tools that have helped you to get through overwhelm.
We're all in this together, yes?
Love, Eli + Joseph