Five Natural Ways To Ease Overwhelm
Unless we’ve been hiding away in a cave somewhere in the Himalayas, most of us at some point in our lives have experienced feelings of overwhelm. Suddenly every task we have in front of us feels unsurmountable, causing sensations stress, fear and dread. Occasional overwhelm is normal, but when it becomes the dominant emotion in our lives, it can negatively affect both our mental and physical health. So, here are five practical ways to say goodbye to overwhelm and return to feeling grounded again.
What Is Overwhelm?
Overwhelm is a feeling commonly associated with stress and anxiety. It usually occurs when we have too much on our plate; be it work commitments, responsibilities at home, or a combination of both.
When we feel overwhelmed, we often find ourselves in a state of paralysis, where just getting on with the tasks at hand seems more than we can manage. Instead, we get stuck in a loop of worry and procrastination, feeling guilty and ashamed that we’re not reaching the targets we’ve set.
Overwhelm is a common symptom of stress and can be accompanied by physical sensations such as tightness in the chest, racing thoughts, and sweaty palms. Stress is a natural part of life. However, when it becomes chronic, it can contribute to serious health conditions such as heart disease, depression and anxiety, addiction, and even cancer.
That’s why taking a serious look at why you are feeling overwhelmed and taking positive steps to reduce it, is extremely important.
1. Be Present
In moments of overwhelm, we tend to spend most of our time catastrophizing about the future.
“I’m never going to get all this work done.”
“My boss is going to fire me when they see what a failure I am.”
“I’m a terrible mother. I should be helping my child every night with their homework.”
We get stuck in circular thought patterns, trying to plot out a future where we can only see fear and dread. But what about if we just focussed on where we are now in the present moment, literally concentrating on the task we’re doing right now, without attaching ourselves to its outcome? We might find that our thoughts start to calm down and our stress levels reduce.
One way to cultivate presence in our lives is to develop a daily meditation practice. If you’ve never meditated before, why not find a mindfulness based stress reduction course in your area.
2. Remember to Breathe
Breathing is one of those things we take for granted. We do it all the time right, otherwise we’d be dead. But when we’re in a state of overwhelm, our breathing becomes shallow, which gives further fuel to our overstimulated sympathetic nervous system.
Just by becoming aware of our breath, we can create a distance between ourselves and our spinning thought patterns. Not only that, we can move from our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system, associated with relaxation.
Once we have brought awareness to our breath, we can start to slowly extend the inhale and exhale, if possible breathing from our belly instead of the chest.
Why not take a moment away from your work and breath consciously for 2 minutes. You will immediately start to feel calmer and your tasks become more manageable.
3. Learn to Say No
Benjamin Franklin once said, "if you want something done, ask a busy person.”
We’ve all been there. We’re already swamped, and our boss piles more work on our plate. And because we want to appear the perfect employee, we say, ‘sure no problem.’ While inside we just want to run into the loo and cry.
Here’s a newsflash for you. You’re not perfect. No one is. And it’s ok to say ‘no’ once in a while. In fact, having firm boundaries is a defining characteristic of successful people.
There’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed if right now you can’t take on any more responsibilities. Most bosses would rather redistribute the work to someone else than face an employee signed off work with stress.
4. Ask For Help
Feeling overwhelmed is an extremely lonely and isolated place to be. For some reason we feel guilty and ashamed, instead choosing to silently soldier on until we break under the pressure.
Long before this happens, it’s time to reach out. No man (or woman) is an island and our loved ones, work colleagues, friends are all waiting for us to ask for their help. Asking for help can also mean passing on a task or responsibility to someone else.
Ultimately though, if we are feeling overwhelmed, it’s a sign we must start to put ourselves first, so reaching out and asking for help is an important step.
5. Support Your Endocannabinoid System
Feeling overwhelmed is a key indication of elevated stress levels. Our natural state of being is one of balance and equilibrium, which is primarily supported by our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of cell receptor sites and cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids that regulates all our biological functions, including stress.
Sometimes our ECS needs a little helping hand in order to do its work, and that’s where CBD comes in. CBD, a natural compound found in hemp, interacts with the endocannabinoid system, increasing what’s known as endocannabinoid tone. Many of our customers trying CBD for the first time, report feeling less stressed and more able to manage their everyday tasks. But always choose a full spectrum CBD product like our Spirit of Hemp whole plant CBD oils, or if a cuppa is your thing, hemp flower tea is a great way to soothe your nerves while boosting your endocannabinoid system.
Perhaps you’re one of the millions of people feeling overwhelmed right now. If so, it’s time to take stock, be kind to yourself, and make some positive changes in your life. In the end, it’s up to each and every one of us to love ourselves sufficiently to manage our stress levels in order to be healthy, happy people in this ever stressed-out world.