I mean, how will we fit it all in to our already packed schedules? We all suffer through times when the simple, but multiple demands in our time and mental abilities are challenged. We are left feeling overwhelmed, empty, and bereft. We crack. We cry, we rage, we take a nap. Stressed.
Let me sketch for you my friends, a scene from my daily life at its most overwhelming times. Every Sunday morning, I make a coffee, grab my favorite pen and my planner, and I fill it in for the week. I don’t schedule set times, just events. The only exceptions are doctor appointment – they frown on you if you show up at random. Each day is chock full of awesome things to do, beginning with a 5:15 am wake up, coffee, a walk with psycho puppy, lunch making and carpool. By 7:30 am I can breathe for a moment. The kids are safely in school, the house is quiet upon my return. No stress yet, unless of course I oversleep or one of the kids has a freak out, no doubt caused by universal turmoil such as a forgotten homework assignment or no clean PE uniform.
OK, so my day begins. Early morning grocery runs, laundry, help the hubby, write, take a seminar, check emails, write some more, remember that I forgot to eat, (God bless PB sandwiches) afternoon carpool, more errands, make dinner, check emails again, serve dinner, listen to complaints that I’m not a fast food chain, (apparently food should be fun) clean up, finish straightening up, let the birds out, check emails again, check site stats, relax for five minutes with Facebook until I pass out. And tomorrow it begins all,over again. Sort of like Groundhog Day, you’ve seen it, right?
Clearly, not everything pencilled in gets done every day. I do try, but then it hits me like a tsunami. An exhaustion so deep (remember friends, I have insomnia) I must stop and have a rest, and something to stop the terrible thirst and the pounding headache. Often, when I get back from that morning carpool, my day is revised to look more like this : take a nap, at least a rest. Not so easy when your dog has a foot fetish and you despise socks. If it’s afternoon, there are locals drifting about the main level in search of the reclusive and elusive snack. (You know, the one that requires asking mom if there is any, and being temporarily blinded so she needs to get up and fetch it for you.) Don’t these kids see that I am an unintelligible mess? I feel that rubber band winding round inside, pulled so taut I might snap. And it’s back…stress.
We all feel it sometimes. The overwhelming elephant of life that threatens to sit on us, and crush us. We are often unable to remove ourselves from the situation without melting down. (Think Three Mile Island or Chernobyl folks) We find that we can’t step back and shift our perspective, we can’t compose ourselves. We see red, we cry, we scream, we lose it. Now I know you’re all denying this, so I’ll venture to say that most it,Es, we internalize these feelings and rage in our brains. This brings us a lovely gift – more stress! We feed on those negative thoughts, spiraling out of control as reality slips from our grasp. We fall into a repetitive loop of loud, persistent migraine inducing words screaming in our minds. Do these sound familiar?
- “I’ll never finish everything.”
- “How will I get through this?”
- “My life is out of control.”
- “I just cannot function like this.”
So, what can you do? How can we get past these moments of pure stress and overloaded circuits when life can’t be put on hold? Let’s go back to my imaginary sketchpad again. I’m going to draw you a picture of some of the things I do, and some of the things I should do.
For me, feeling grounded in reality requires both my mind and body to be in sync. (I know, right? My besties are in hysterics now) Since I’m not a yoga freak or a gym rat (I know, you’d never guess, haha) it’s usually a walk. A long, aimless, mind numbing walk. Such a shame that life doesn’t afford me the luxury of these meandering walkabouts, but I can take a short walk around the neighborhood to get some clarity and peace.
Faithful followers, you have been amazing, and I love that you wait eagerly for my twice weekly posts and their words of wisdom. (Shh…let me believe this!) Those of you who’ve been with me for longer than a post or two know I’ve taken up meditation. I’m really new to it, and it’s still so hard to focus on that “glowing light in the center of my being” but it’s nice just to sit for a few minutes and listen to that relaxed voice lulling me to sleep…oops, I mean and enlightened state of being. On my favorite site for health and meditations, there was an interview with a yoga instructor. He offered three good strategies for de-stressing that you can do anywhere. So next time you’re stressed, lounge around in the drivers seat, steer your trolley to the side of the aisle, and breathe. If you feel it’s one of “those” days, try one (or more) if these simple techniques. I know I will.
1. Breathe For Three: A steady slow rate of breathing relaxes our muscles and our minds. It is apparently one of the foundations of yoga and meditation. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale for a count of three, then slowly exhale for (yup, you guessed it) a count of three. They, whoever they might be, say that this process relaxers the body in about a minute. A full sixty second minute.
2. Choose a Mantra: Think of a few affirming phrases to repeat quietly to yourself. Some suggestions are “I can do this,” “this too shall pass,” and “it will get done when it gets done.” Another option is to find a favorite motivational quote and repeat that to yourself. You might want to put it on post it notes around the house and car. And don’t forget to breathe.
3. A really good stretch : Take the time to flex every muscle that you can. Lie down if possible and begin with your tootsies. Relax the toes, and visualize each and every muscle in your body. Slowly, one at a time. Picture the stress leaving each part of the body, moving up from your tiny toesies to be released through your glorious crown. I bet by the time you reach your midsection you’ll be surprised to see that a lot of the tightness and stress has departed for other fairgrounds.
I suppose the bottom line is to learn our limitations. Learn to say no. Putting yourself out there for others only adds more stress to your already chaotic life. By all means, don’t deny a sick friend a container of soup (if she lives across the street) or a ride home for her kid from school, but beware the bigger pond sucking favor seeking people. Your time is valuable and so are you. Less stress is less mess. Once we learn where our limits lie, and we are comfortable with them, we will learn to center ourselves. We learn to focus to reduce the oerwhekmjng stress and function more effectively. I think it’s time for a cup of de-stressing lovely coffee.
Try some of the techniques here, or share your own. Life will always be hectic, if we center ourselves and breathe, we enjoy more, stress less. Release the angst, releases the stress. What feels right for you when you’re overwhelmed! Share share share your wonderfulness. (The rule of three)