1.    bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something

synonyms: swamp, submerge, engulf, bury, deluge, flood, clog, overload, overburden, snow under

2.    give too much of something to; inundate

synonyms: inundate, overload, overrun, flood, swamp, snow under, engulf, bombard

Dear Reader,

Take a read of the above.

The synonyms say it all really.

The sense of being overwhelmed – by work, family, obligations, life in general– can be so intense as to almost feel physical in its nature.

A deluge!

A swamp!

A bombardment!

I see this in clients when they discuss taxing work or personal issues: shoulders scrunched up, heads bowed, bodies hunched as if there is a pressure from above.

The language used reflects the same: I feel weighed under, everything is on my shoulders, I can’t keep holding everything up, I’m barely dragging myself through. 

People tend to respond in two ways to being overwhelmed: keep marching on relentlessly taking on more and more or curling up and disengaging entirely.

Neither will end well….

What’s the middle ground?

What would it feel like to be able to take that load, that overwhelm and gently put it down?

To feel the weight lift from your shoulders and stand up straight and breathe in whilst looking out at the horizon?

Indeed how to prevent the load from getting too big in the first place?

And when the load is there- as it always will be at some point- how to lighten it with grace and relative ease?

I was lucky enough to be asked to join a group of women a couple of nights ago to talk about the concept of overwhelm.

All had stories of either extreme burnout or reoccurring periods of feeling inundated.

From our discussions and my own experience I have put together below 4 steps to help shed that load.

Here is to lightness, freedom and gratitude

With love,

4 Step Overwhelm-Buster

1.    Notice it!

The first thing to do is to become more and more attune to yourself: your body and your mind.

For example when I am beginning to get stressed my jaw clenches and my face tightens, my shoulders rise a little and my stomach pulls in.

My thoughts begin to get over-focussed on detail. I write too many lists….

So take the time to scan your body and your mind and notice the red flags.

This simple act will let you know you are getting overwhelmed and remind you to slow down.

2.    Pre-empt it!

If you know a busy period is coming up get yourself in the best possible shape. Charge your battery.

-look after yourself: sleep, diet, exercise.

-put in stepping stones to get you through: seeing a friend, a glass of wine, yoga.

-set boundaries: simply do not take on too much in the first place. Take responsibility for yourself and say no to doing too much. This is probably the hardest one for most people to do. Try saying no to one small thing first and then build up. The world will not fall apart.

 3.  During it!

 When you have lots going on actively choose to do the following:

-er, look after yourself: sleep, diet, exercise

-lower your standards. Forget about cooking amazing meals, making sure all is perfect around the house, everyone is beautifully cared for. The world will not fall apart.

-simply accept it is a busy full-on period. Don’t fight the reality: that adds a layer of stress on top. Say to yourself: this IS full-on and I’m in it now.

-laugh at yourself. And be grateful.

3.    After!

This is the one I struggle with the most.

-actually rest. Don’t do anything. Watch the telly. Look at the horizon. The battery is flat. It needs some serious charging.

4.    Some mind-body practices to anchor you.

These are physical and mental practices that will help to centre you when stressed. Start doing these in periods of relative calm: I try and “centre” myself throughout each and very day. The more you do them the more you will have the ability to access a sense of calm when you actually are in the thick of it.

My three favourites are:

Soft face and tongue:  A 2-second practice! Let your tongue relax and soften in your mouth. Soften your face and jaw.

Breath and visualise: 2 minutes. Stand up straight. Inhale and lengthen your spine upwards imagining light coming out of your head. Exhale and soften downwards imagine your feet rooting into the ground. Repeat.

Mental mantra: Do the above and then ask yourself “what would it feel like to have 5% more ease in my life? In my next conversation? In my next meeting? Next weekend?” Really feel a sense of ease in your body- a soft, spacious feeling.

I did this every morning throughout lockdown.

It worked.

Some reading recommendations for founders wanting to transform their day-to-day.

Some reading recommendations for founders wanting to transform their day-to-day.

Own it Liz Peters.
Contains brilliant centring exercises
If in Doubt, Wash your hair Anya Hindmarch
Utterly brilliant on how to manage a busy life