How To Manage Overwhelm

E-motion is energy in motion. It ebbs and it flows, it comes and it goes, and there is a wonderful art of allowing that.

When we encounter situations that are challenging, sometimes with that can come higher levels of stress and anxiety. Having strong emotions about a difficult situation is absolutely okay. We are human. It is normal to feel a whole range of emotions. E-motion is energy in motion. It ebbs and it flows, it comes and it goes, and there is a wonderful art of allowing that. 

Sometimes however they don’t seem to flow away. If we are giving them a huge amount of attention with our thoughts, we keep the issues vibrant in our minds and so the feelings stay strong and present. If we don’t know how to manage these feelings properly they can escalate and become overwhelming. 

Below are some steps to help you understand what is causing the overwhelm and how to reduce that, so that you can take action and manage the situation in a calmer and more controlled way.  

Step 1 Awareness 

First, you need to become aware of what feelings you are experiencing and where they are in your body. Often when we are experiencing strong emotion we are also holding that in our body. Take a moment to become aware of specifically what the feeling is, name it, and where it is in your body. Is the feeling that of fear? Shame? Overwhelm? Panic? Where is it in your body- are you holding tension somewhere? Are you clenching your jaw? Is it a knot in your stomach? Do you have a tight chest? Just stop for a moment and become really aware.  

Step 2 Recognise

Next you need to recognise what thoughts you are having to make you have those feelings. We ‘feel’ our ‘thoughts’. So when we are feeling fearful it is because we are thinking about something that might happen. Or that did happen. But it is not happening at that very moment. So the feeling is coming from us thinking about it and either reliving an event in our mind, or the anticipation of what ‘may’ happen in an event we are creating. Check this now. If you are feeling a strong emotion- is it happening in this very moment? The situation may well be going on around you, but right now, the feelings you have about it are coming from you thinking about it. 

Step 3 Acknowledge 

Acknowledge the thought and thank your mind for doing its job. We are survival animals, so when we feel threatened our brain wants us to feel fear so we act in ways to protect us and keep us safe. If you see a bear you want to be feeling fear! So that your body can take action- fight or flight. Our minds don’t want us to speak up and challenge a situation- we are community animals. If we rock the boat then we might get kicked out of the ‘tribe’ and then we are at higher risk of attack. This is our primal brain trying to protect us for survival of the species and it has done a wonderful job of it. However, If a threat is a perceived situation as opposed to an imminent event then our minds can keep us in that fear/panic state for a long time if we do not control the thought. And if we stay in that state for a long time, that is when we can cause some serious damage, both to our mental and physical states. We don’t want this! 

Step 4 Reassure

After thanking our mind for doing its job we want to reassure it that we are okay. Yes you might be facing a challenging situation, but in this very real and present moment you are not under any threat. There is no  bear chasing you. As you sit and read this there is no one attacking you. You are physically safe right now. Our mind believes what we tell it whether it is real or not which is why thinking the fearful thoughts make it real and reassuring it we are okay makes the feeling ease.  

Step 5 Focus

 

Then you need to come back to the now. Focus on the present moment. Get mindful about what you are doing. Focus on the action that you are taking or can take. We as humans like to have control- control makes us feel safe. Often it is when we don’t have control over a situation that the feelings of panic, stress and overwhelm start to creep in. You have control over YOUR actions but we only have control of the ‘now’ so when we focus here as opposed to fixating on stories we are creating in our heads, then we can feel more in control and make better decisions.

Remember: We are feeling our thoughts. Though we cannot control all the thoughts that come into our minds, they are coming and going all the time, the more we become aware of the conscious ones, what they are and how they are making us feel, the easier we can get some control over them and ease our ‘dis-ease’. We can acknowledge them, we can just allow them, or we can choose to put our focus elsewhere. This takes practice, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.

If you are struggling with thoughts around a particular situation, or want to talk about this further, please do book in a call with me.

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