5 Simple Strategies for Emerging from Overwhelm

Everyone has a limited capacity for stress, and we all face challenges that temporarily put us over that limit.

This past Saturday morning I recorded some teachings on dealing with overwhelm, emailed the recording to the women in our course, and then immediately proceeded to drop my laptop and shatter my hard drive.

Needless to say… overwhelm set in.

Apparently I was being tested to see if I could actually practice what I preach.

Once the overwhelm hit, all signs of intelligence and resourcefulness appeared to instantly vanish from my brain. I just went blank.

My inner dialogue became dominated by one repeating loop: I can’t believe I just did that… I can’t believe I just did that… I can’t believe I just did that!

This went on like a broken record until I remembered something I had read that morning by Kate Courageous. She had written about learning to say thank you in the midst of a difficult moment, and I decided to follow her lead.

I stopped fighting the situation and tried consciously welcoming it—offering gratitude for the unknown teachings and blessings it carried. As I began to work with the challenge rather than against it, my nervous system started to calm down.

Then, one step at a time, I began to deal with the situation at hand. I booked an appointment at the Apple store, made myself some tea, and began relaxing into the reality of being without a computer for a few days.

I was forced to take a break from work, and that break facilitated a lot of important insights and experiences. I ended up deepening my yoga practice, spending more quality time with my daughter, and remembering how much I love reading and listening to stories before bed.

As I was falling asleep last night, I listened to this beautiful interview with Sylvia Boorstein. I was so touched by the wisdom and gentleness of her approach to suffering. When in the midst of a difficult experience, Syliva practices saying to herself:

“Sweetheart, you’re in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Lets pay attention to what is happening, and then we’ll figure out what to do.”

When we face our challenges with a strong, open heart, and treat ourselves with kindness and care, our power slowly returns and hidden blessings begin to reveal themselves.

The next time you face a situation that feels overwhelming, I invite you to work with the challenge rather than against it.

5 Strategies for Emerging from Overwhelm

  • Don’t try to solve the problem while you are in a highly charged, emotional state. This will just keep you stuck in overwhelm.
  • Focus on calming your nervous system down. Temporarily shift your focus away from the problem. Bring your attention back to something that feels calming and manageable, like making some tea or going for a walk. Take some deep breaths and give yourself permission to relax.
  • Don’t judge yourself for getting overwhelmed. It’s already painful enough. Don’t compound the issue by criticizing yourself on top of it.
  • Tend to your immediate needs. Make self-care your first priority. Listen to what your body needs and lovingly tend to your own wellbeing. You might want to step away from the situation, take a nap, do some yoga or talk with a good friend.
  • Give yourself permission to move slowly. Bring your attention back to the present moment and do one thing at a time, with as much mindfulness as possible.

The beautiful Everything Will Be Alright print above is by the lovely & talented Jessica Swift. Thank you, Jess!



6 Responses to “5 Simple Strategies for Emerging from Overwhelm”

  1. This was such light and love! I adore diving into your writing.

    Thank you.

  2. Lou says:

    This is fantastic… thanks for sharing – love your tips and I am totally going to copy these and put them somewhere visible so they stay in my head :)

  3. Katie Bagby says:

    My nervous system calmed down just reading this. Thank you for being part of my own self care, like a hot cup of tea, today!

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