When Life Gets Overwhelming

by Stephany on March 24, 2014

overwhelming

So I took a break from blogging last week. It feels so narcissistic to announce something like that, but well, I have a blog that I use to talk about my crazy exciting (#sarcasm) life. So, I’m already slightly narcissistic anyway. I digress.

I took a break. I took a break because I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed about life. Sometimes, the day-to-day living can be a lot to handle, you know? It seems that there is always something that needs to get done, some way we’re not living our full potential. I was feeling… overstimulated, I suppose is a good word for it. Every day seemed to take so much energy just to get through it.

Over the course of the last few weeks, a few not-great things happened in my life. Nothing traumatic or life-changing, and some of it might not have even been a big deal for some people (oh, how I wish I had the “dirt off my shoulders” mentality!), but I tend to make mountains out of molehills, overanalyze every situation, worry about every possible scenario.

I guess this is where I can sense I have a little bit of a perfectionist attitude about life. I want to be the best! at! everything! Between my work and my blog and my personal life… I want to be an all-star at it all. And when I’m not, when it all seems to fall apart or not go the way I imagined it would… it zaps my energy. It steals my joy and clouds my vision. I forget about all the great things in my life and only focus on the parts that aren’t where I want them to be.

So I was having a hard time. I felt a bit weary and worn-down. If there’s one thing I do right, it’s being in tune with my emotions. I was telling a friend the other day that I should have majored in “emotions” in college, because they are honestly my favorite thing. I love talking about them and learning more about emotions and how they affect our lives. So I know when I need a break. I know when to pull back the reins and learn to trust that inner voice that’s giving me a tiny nudge that I need to slow down and calm my mind.

So that’s what I did last week. I took a break. And while ideally I would have loved to have spent a week in a tropical paradise, sipping a mango daiquiri poolside, away from work and responsibilities and reality, that wasn’t possible. (Womp, womp.)

But I still found a few easy ways to soothe the overwhelm, and today, I’d like to share my process (and hopefully help YOU if you’re feeling a bit stressed out and overstimulated by life!):

1. Clear out the distractions. For me, this comes in the form of my online presence, most specifically blogging and Twitter. So I took a week off both. I’ve been consistently churning out 3-5 blog posts a week for months now and I was getting a bit burned out and uninspired by my blog. And since my full-time job involves almost 100% writing and editing, plus I started freelancing, plus my passion project involves writing a novel… it all got to be a bit too much. (That’s a lot of writing, yo!) So I stepped away. I cleared my blogging schedule and didn’t open WordPress once for an entire week. It felt so good to give myself that break to clear my mind and quiet my thoughts.

And taking a social media break is also so good for clearing out the clutter and distractions. I always notice how much more quiet my mind is when I’m not on Twitter, when I don’t have dozens of conversations bouncing around in my brain and feeling a nudge to write profound yet witty tweets multiple times a day.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, find simple yet effective ways to clear out the distractions. Maybe it means a TV break for a week, or only checking your email once a day, or not using technology after 6 p.m. Figure out what distractions you can cut out for a short period of time, so you can find your inner peace once again.

2. Rest your mind. At work, I usually spend my lunch breaks at my desk, working on blog posts, responding to personal emails, and reading blogs. Last week, I decided to shake things up so I spent my lunch break reading. While I was still at my desk, I turned away from my computer, and simply focused on enjoying my lunch and enjoying my book. It gave my eyes a break from the computer and my mind a rest. It truly felt as if I were escaping for a short hour into a different world.

Find your own way to rest your mind, even if you don’t have an hour to spare every day. Whether that means simply taking five minutes out of your busy day to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and meditate, or slipping into a hot bubble bath at the end of the day, with nothing but the sound of silence to keep you company. Find your bliss and what helps you recharge, even on busy days.

3. Honor your feelings. Honoring your feelings comes easy when they are fun emotions, like happiness, joy, elation, or excitement. But when they’re not so great? When those feelings are stress or sadness or grief or worry or anger? It’s hard. It’s so hard for me not to take those emotions and shove them deep down as far as they can go, and pretend life is sunshine and butterflies. But the truth is – our feelings are there for a reason. I had to look at my life and take apart the emotions I was feeling. Why was I feeling worn out every evening when I left work? Why did I feel so much jealousy when I compared my blog and my life to others? Why did the simple act of grocery shopping make me want to fall to the ground in the parking lot of Publix and bang my head against the pavement?

Oh, feelings.

Feel your feelings. They exist for a reason. Your job is to find out what is causing them. And sometimes, just the simple fact of acknowledging their place and letting them have their moment in your heart is enough. There’s no fixing, there’s no solution. They are just there and we have to give them their place. And other times, there is a solution. We have to sit down with that emotion, take it apart and discover the cause, and learn to move past it.

4. Take care of yourself. I’ve never really been a big believer in self-care for myself. For others, absolutely. But for me, and my boring, mundane life? Not really. I mean, I’m not a busy working mom or working two jobs or trying to get a business off the ground. I’m just… me. I have a full-time job, yes, and a vast array of hobbies that require a lot of attention, but self-care? What do I need that for?

Oh, friends. We all need good self-care habits. And that doesn’t include reaching for a bottle of wine and some chocolate at the end of a stressy day. For me, it means not using my laptop when I come home from work, going to bed early, morning workouts before I start my day, and silly, trashy romance novels. These are my escapes. These are what make me feel good.

For you, maybe it’s journaling or Skyping with good friends who get you or yoga or knitting or whatever makes you feel good, authentic, and present. Find your self-care habits and own them.

Last week was restorative for me. I felt that nudging that I was on the brink of a major breakdown and I put the brakes on for a short while, to slow down, quiet my mind, and recharge. I found my inner peace once again. Be true to you, be true to how you are feeling (even if you feel silly for your hurt feelings or anxious thoughts or sadness!), and take care of yourself. Nobody else is going to do that for you.

I’d love to hear in the comments: what are some of your self-care rituals? 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

nora March 24, 2014 at 11:55 am

I’m with you on using reading as a break + escape. I have been reading a lot lately! Other self-care things I do: learn when to say no, don’t return phone calls/texts right away, take a bubble bath, go on longer walks with Jack (technology free, no music, no phones) and exercise my little heart out.

So glad you took the time you needed last week, it’s so important! xo

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Amber March 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I think “feel the feelings” is such a powerful practice that we all could work on. It’s something that yoga has really impressed on me. No, it’s not fun to feel sad or mad but we don’t get to be happy all the time. And sometimes instead of fighting the feelings that come over us in waves or trying to logically think our way through them we should just FEEL them. This is life. Definitely something that is a daily battle for me still!

Hope you are feeling better this week after taking some time to yourself last week!

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Gina March 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I’m glad you gave yourself a break and found your inner peace again, Stephany. There’s definitely nothing wrong with taking a much-needed break for a while. ;)

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katelin March 24, 2014 at 6:46 pm

These are great self-care rituals and man I could have majored in “Emotions” right there with you, ha.

For me, it usually involves, napping, journaling and escaping to someone else’s world either in a book or a movie.

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Lisa of Lisa's Yarns March 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm

We all need to step away from ‘living outloud’ at times. I have thought about taking a blogging break at various times, especially lately, but have ended up just cutting back to 2-3 posts a week so I don’t feel pressures to be positive or interesting or insightful more often than I can handle.

I think one thing I have learned this year is to talk to myself as if I would talk to a good friend dealing with the same things I am dealing with. If a good friend had the year I had, I wouldn’t tell them, ‘you should be handling this better.’ I would tell them, “I am so sorry you are going through this. Be kind to yourself.” So I am learning to treat myself as I would a good friend, which means a whole lot of self care. Self care for me is making time for working out 5-6 days a week and doing workouts I enjoy, making time for hobbies like reading and knitting, and right now I am indulging in massages every 6-8 weeks. Since I don’t really know many people or have good friends, I can go a very long time with no one touching me. Sounds weird, but it’s a rare occurrence for my week to include a hug even. So massages help because it works out my kinks and someone is touching me in a comforting way.

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Dayle March 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm

This is a great point about the massages. I think as human beings we crave touch and being physically close to other people. I was single for the past 3 years, and not engaging in any sort of physical relationship with anyone. I have recently met someone in the past few months and it’s unbelievable how much I now crave that closeness when we’re apart. I don’t mean this in a sexual way, just the fact of having someone close/touching is really nice and a big stress reliever.

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Dayle March 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Hi there…my first time commenting on your blog, but I found you thru something Cait (blondeonabudget) linked on Twitter.

These are some great tips. Some of my own self-care rituals (there are lots):

- I treat my committments to myself with the same integrity that I treat my committments to others. I am known as someone who does what she says she is going to do, the people in my life know they can count on me, so I make sure I can count on myself. This applies to many areas, whether it’s a committment to exercise, or save money, or something totally different.

- I make sure I get enough sleep. If I don’t get enough at night, I will have a nap the following afternoon. I know that if I don’t get enough sleep I am grumpy and I get sick more often, so I make it a priority.

- I make time for fitness and I set goals with regards to how many workouts I will do in a week or month, and I schedule them in my planner. I stick to my plan (as I mentioned above – I commit).

- I make sure I don’t let myself get too hungry, and I try my best to make healthy choices. I know I eat too much junk food, but I eat a lot of healthy stuff too, and I do my best. I like the saying “make sure what you’re doing to make yourself feel better doesn’t make you feel worse”.

- I know when to say no to people, activities, work, etc. etc. I dilligently use my planner and I am very aware of when I have time to add more things and when I do not. The people in my life respect this and know I like to make plans well in advance, it’s what works for me.

- and my all time favourite cliche thought: “Be kind to yourself” … similar to what you mentioned above, you have to take care of yourself because nobody else is going to do it for you.

All the best,
Dayle
@_lil_d on twitter

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Steffi March 27, 2014 at 2:59 am

OMG, reading your post I could have written a huge part of it.
I am such an over-thinker and if something bothers me I seem totally unable to get it out of my head. If it’s a real bad case nothing helps. I try to read to get my mind to other things but I can’t concentrate and always think and think and think.
If it’s something that really bothers me I get sick to my stomach almost immediately too. Which is no fun.
And I let myself be influenced with Twitter or facebook way too much.
If there are new from friends (happy news) about things I maybe want myself or things I am not sure I want because I am still in the process do decided – I get jealous sometimes. And I know that’s not fair and I shouldn’t.
I get envious about their lives.
I don’t think I can or want to quit Twitter and FB completely, but I would love to try to not use it so much. Maybe even remove the app from my phone and only use it when I am on a PC – like in the good old days before smartphones.
Do you have any tips what to do to manage to shut up your mind when is working overtime again? That would be helpful.

As for things to do to care for yourself: I love reading and I try to really read a lot.
I like being outside and as I have a horse, riding is my way to relax and calm down.
The horses take up a big part of our days (my hubby has two and is riding as well) and it is what I always wanted to have – now that I have it, it can be overwhelming sometimes too.
I think I (or we) need to find one day a week where I am actually not going to the horses but do something else with my time.

Oh God, life was so easy while we were kids. *sigh*

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Emilie March 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I have been feeling very uninspired with my blog lately and generally overwhelmed with feeling like I have to update it every other day in order to keep my readers, all 3 of them. I tend to get overwhelmed very easily when I have a lot of things to do and not enough time. Part of my problem is making to-do lists that are too big to tackle in the amount of time I give myself. If I don’t check off every item I feel bad and beat myself up over wasting time on other stupid things. I really struggle with taking a time out and doing something strictly for me, like taking a bubble bath or shutting down the laptop and reading a book. That’s why I’ve been writing so sporadically lately – I don’t ever want it to feel forced so it’s taking a back seat for right now. I’ve thought about taking certain social media apps off my phone because I feel like I HAVE to scroll through every FB post, IG photo and Feedly update and sometimes that gets in the way of things that are much more important to me. Running is definitely my me-time and I always make time for that and going to the gym but sometimes even that feels like another item on my list of things to do. I need to make more of an effort to practice yoga more often because it does help to calm my mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this – such an important topic!

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Melissa March 29, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I MISS YOU. I feel like I’ve missed so much in your life. I hope you’re feeling better. Let me know if you need anything <3

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