Overwhelm is...well, overwhelming. I have been chatting with many of you offline regarding overwhelm. You have described it to me in a variety of ways. I have tried to summarize your input in the following list. Let's take a moment to look at what overwhelm looks like in our everyday lives.
It is important that many of these descriptions are similar to depression, but perhaps at a milder level. If you struggle with depression, I ask you to get help. If you have historically had stable mental health, but do not take action dealing with your overwhelm, you can slip into depression.
This blog series is a coaching series focusing on moving from the survive mode back into the thrive mode. Many of the habits and tips suggested and proposed here have scientific backing and certainly personal anecdotes to support their effectiveness. My background & education is focused on Organizational Leadership and the learning methods adults use to improve themselves. I am not a professional mental health expert.
Have you ever walked through your garden in spring just before the blossoms bloom? There is a quiet, expectant feeling to the garden. After a winter of rest and recovery, the garden is preparing itself to spring forth and celebrate.
Challenging situations require us to pause. We must feel our emotions, acknowledgment them, and sort them out. Think of this quiet moment as the garden's winter.
The winter does not show much activity above ground, but quietly, the plants are resting and preparing for an exciting spring. During our most challenging moments, think of winter. (Remember when your mom used to say, "Count to 10 before you say anything?") My mom used to tell me to count to 10. I never understood how counting to 10 was supposed to help me. I still said the same thing!
Through the years, thanks to many mentors and friends, I have learned how to do better. Now, I understand. In these moments, I am pausing to find my peace & power. I am feeling the emotions. I am acknowledging my emotions: yes, the feelings of anger, or hurt, or frustration.
This quiet moment is my winter. As I collect my emotions and feel the feels, I begin to sort them. Truth be told, when hurtful events occur, this moment is very turbulent. Sorting is the processing part of creating my peace and power. Only once have a I sorted & understood my emotions have I collected the power to take action correctly.
When we are Overwhelmed, it is entirely possible to give into Winter. We sleep. We guard ourselves from "feeling too much" but not feeling anything. While Winter is an important season, we must not allow ourselves to retreat into Winter and stay there. It is a season for collecting energy and sorting emotion.
As you walk your spring garden, observe how each plant blooms in its own time. As you prepare to overcome your overwhelm, take small actions. You cannot (and should not) do it all at once. Just as each blossom has its season, so do the actions you (we) must take to overcome your (our) overwhelm.
Overcoming overwhelm understands that Winter is a transitory state. The actions may be small, the healing may be slow, but by focusing on our inch-by-inch goals, we move ahead slowly, until one day, the blossoms blooms.
In the last post Celebrate, I wrote of the geraniums blossoming in the neighborhood. It took years for those geraniums to bloom so boldly and proudly. Be patient in your self-work. Move through Winter to prepare for Spring, then Spring into action.
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Finding Peace in Goal Setting: Inch by Inch (2021)
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