An over-whelming feeling: Dealing with stress, worry and busy heads.
You have probably, at some point, felt that feeling of over-whelm. Where your head is so busy of "stuff" . The whirling of thoughts, expectations and responsibilities you have to somehow achieve, that feel like an impossible task.
When our brain is under stress, or over-loaded. Our bodies "threat" response is triggered and the logical, organised part of our brain ( in the frontal cortex) gets taken over by our fight or flight response ( a hormonal reaction triggered by the Amygdala - a small part of our brain at the back of our head that calls for the secretion of Adrenaline and cortisol - a stress hormone).
Signs this might be happening for you:
Find it harder to organise and structure your thoughts.
Memory and retention of facts might be impacted.
You may find that you are more chaotic or messy in your tasks.
You probably feel anxious or rushed, physically feeling the pressure of your time vs task ration.
Physical feelings of “busy”: headaches, faster breath or heart rate, sweaty or tingly skin or a weird dreamlike sense of not quite being "in" reality.
You may communicate in a more highly strung manner, perhaps more impatient with others or even not communicate effectively at all.
Your body is feeling that drag to "SLOW DOWN" and your mind might be nudging you with "we gotta get stuff done"
Now a little bit of stress here and there, is a normal part of life. But that prolonged feeling of being out of control of time and tasks. That can leave you resenting parts of life, feeling fatigued, worried, guilty and even experiencing total burn out.
So, here is an opportunity to take a breath and a moment to grow wisdom and awareness in the conditions you need to thrive. To get off the roller-coaster and back into a place where things feel more in control.
Creating conditions to thrive, is one of the natural principles of Sarah Spencer, in her book Think Like A Tree and the founding principles of our coaching mantra here at Where The Mind Grows.
In the natural world, if there are not the right conditions to thrive then a tree will be placed under immense stress, until it can regain the relevant conditions to recover. Placed under stress for too long and that tree simply will not survive.
It's clear to see that a tree is "under duress" particularly at this time of year. Whilst it's community might be adorned with bright leaves and a healthy trunk. A tree under stress will struggle to bare foliage, it's trunk may be cracked and its strength diminished, until eventually it leans. It's branches are scarcer than those around it and it runs greater risk of disease or disruption from insects. Under stress a tree is vulnerable, much like us.
When we are under prolonged stress, our well-being is also diminished. Many clients I work with report their habits become less healthy and focused towards self-care, when life gets "too busy" and they feel over-whelmed. This sort of change is common and yet counter-intuitive to the resources you actually need when in this busy lifestyle - and most of us know this. So the shift to unhealthy habits, lack of exercise and disrupted sleep lead into a cycle of psychological turmoil too, as you spend time berating your "bad habits" and reeling off "Must do's" & "Need to's" in your mind. This just adds to that experience of feeling over-worked and under resourced as you mutter "I must slow down", "I need to eat healthier" . The combination of the busy tasks and the mental clutter and critical voice, not exactly a holistic space in which to resource and recover is it?
So if you are feeling over-whelmed. Ask yourself simply this. What conditions do I need to thrive? Think of this as a process of cultivating change. An opportunity to grow in the right direction of your well-being goals.
You might not know how to get these things just yet. (especially if you feel like you are fighting the tide) but this is a stepping stone of clarity and the start of a resolution for your well-being.
Let's get back to basics right now. If you are reading this and thinking " that over-whelm is totally me" then the first step is to check in with "Conditions to survive" before we advance to conditions to thrive. Here is your top three check ins, right here right now
Water and Food
Rest and Re-cooperation
Oxygen & Light
These things might feel too basic, but they are an essential part of helping yourself function in the eb and flow of life.
Next, we move onto some deeper self-reflection stuff
What have I got around me to help me?
What am I feeling about this scenario?
What is the self-talk/internal-dialogue I am telling myself about all this?
What needs to change?
What one thing can I do right now (and feel good about it) to change this situation for myself?
How am I going to nurture conditions to thrive in?
If you want to go deeper into your rooted thinking, be bold and brave and ask yourself Am I trying to be too many things to too many people? Remember one single tree is never a forest!
Don't worry if you do not know the answers to all these questions. The phrase " can't see the wood for the trees" doesn't exist without reason. I have had clients whose answer to question 5 has been to get a coach involved, for that very reason.
Really invite yourself into a place of understanding your "conditions to thrive". This is a journey in itself. It involves looking root to tip at your life. Setting healthy and realistic boundaries and actions and can be life changing in keeping when you truly master that vision.
So, we can always turn to nature to help us along the way. And on a practical level, nature can really help with these feelings of over-whelm.
Spending time with nature is extensively researched to benefit our mind and body reset. And I highly encourage you to factor this into your conditions to thrive plan.
Just 20 minutes of nature time per day, can help you with reducing stress and anxiety. Walking can help to "de-clutter" that busy head. I will often use a segment of my daily walk for “ life admin” and de-clutter. Allowing my mind to flow and taking mental note, after this I find space in my head for just being out and with nature.
Without becoming aware of our own conditions to thrive, we risk increasing the vulnerability of our own ecosystem and the nutrients, environment and activities we need to stay rooted.
For more ways to enhance your health, happiness and well-being and discover your personal development strategies. Get in touch to discover our workplace well-being or Life Coaching Packages. Or subscribe to our mailing list for blogs, offers and events.
Picture Sources: Unsplash: Haneen Krimly, Daniel Oberg, Seth Yeanoplos, wix & WTMG Personal photography (Lucille Moore).