I have written about the experience of getting overwhelmed before because it is a common result of being too busy and pushing yourself to get more accomplished than serves you. Our society as a whole has gotten so over scheduled that many times you are on autopilot rushing through your day. And when you are on autopilot it is easy to go unconscious and before you know it you might find yourself with too much stimulation or too much information or just too much. This is what you might experience as overwhelm.
Even if you aren’t overburdened by lots of tasks, having an experience of feeling overwhelm with emotion is probably not something new to you. It can happen when you are trying to make a big decision and frequently happens when you are having difficult or complicated conversations. Feeling overwhelmed certainly isn’t an unusual experience for me, though I have found that the benefit of consciously choosing to do less and spend more time just being has helped me tremendously.
Nonetheless, yesterday I had an experience of overwhelm that got me thinking about the process I go through to re-balance. And feeling re-balanced and calm is definitely how I want to feel instead of overwhelmed with emotion. Unfortunately, when you are overwhelmed it isn’t always easy to figure out what’s going on. As I unraveled my experience yesterday the first thing I noticed was that it took me some time to even realize that I was overwhelmed. And it is critical that you recognize that something is out of whack in order to be able to do anything about it.
Slowing down is part of that process. And by that I mean that you want to slow down enough to check in to determine what is happening in the moment. If you don’t do anything else, I highly suggest that you begin by taking a few slow deep breaths. That gives you some space to step back and evaluate your experience. Then you might ask yourself, what’s happening right now? What’s the situation? What am I feeling? What emotions are present? What body sensations are present? What are my thoughts? Easier said than done.
Yesterday it took me some time before I realized how knee deep in overwhelm I was. My husband and I were talking about problems we were having with our dirt road. Only when I literally couldn’t process what my husband was saying to me did I realize that I was melting down and needed to stop and figure out what was happening. At first I wasn’t able to articulate much and it took quite a bit of time before I could determine that I was triggered and feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, my husband was very supportive and was able to stay quiet with me while I figured out what was going on. Once I determined that I was feeling an overload of information, I realized that I needed some down time.
From past experience, I knew that the best next step for me was to take a soothing bubble bath to regain some equanimity. After the soak I felt calm and better equipped to go about the rest of the day. I had managed my way out of overwhelm and in the process got a little closer to my husband. I didn’t try to solve anything or think myself out of it; I sought out equilibrium by working to rest and relax my body. Once again I learned that the first essential step when dealing with overwhelming emotions is to recognize what you are experiencing. And then when you are more aware, get yourself out of your head and into your body to help move yourself back into balance.