Losing Your Footing
Over the last couple of weeks, at least four people told me that they are feeling overwhelmed. When you add my absence last week from posting an article, that might be five. The difference between those four and I is that there are tools in my box to handle that feeling.
Being overwhelmed or at least feeling as if things might be spiraling out of control is not something to ignore. Full disclosure here – I am not a therapist. My “expertise” on being overwhelmed comes from the school of “been there, done that.” If you are someone unfamiliar with the feeling or not sure if what you are feeling is what today’s post is about, here is an explanation.
“When you have a persistent sense of heartbreak and gut wrench, the physical sensations become intolerable and we will do anything to make those feelings disappear. And that is really the origin of what happens in human pathology. People take drugs to make it disappear, and they cut themselves to make it disappear, and they starve themselves to make it disappear, and they have sex with anyone who comes along to make it disappear and once you have these horrible sensations in your body, you’ll do anything to make it go away.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk
Are You Overwhelmed?
Having read that, is what you are feeling means you are overwhelmed?
My suggestion would be to speak with a medical professional if the feelings and responses to them are as ver der Kolk described.
The people who spoke with me, men and women, said something along these lines.
- My life seems as if it is marching in the same spot for years now
- I feel as if I have to choose between my job and my relationship. Any choice that I make, guess who will be the “loser?”
- I am pregnant with my second child and struggling to hold things down.
- The bills are adding up and even though I am working three jobs, it feels as if I will never catch up.
- Yes, I know that depression is knocking on my door and quite frankly, it feels like the best thing to door is open it and let it hug me.
Physically And Mentally Overwhelmed
Another person contacted me through my Fiverr service with a request to be held accountable. She works from home, a mother, and homemaker. Money is not the issue. Time is. She is running a home business, raising three children and managing the household, she feels burned out.
Read this interesting article by the Calm Clinic where they provided the following descriptions of being physically and mentally overwhelmed.
“Feeling overwhelmed is perhaps the most common symptom of anxiety, and it can actually affect you on a very base level.”
“People talk about anxiety as if it makes it difficult to focus. But that’s not entirely true. Anxiety often makes it easy to focus, but only on your anxiety. Some people experience such a feeling of emotional distress that they may start to cry, or feel like they’re about to cry, while others may experience a complete lack of hope as if their anxiety is never going to be treatable.”
“Indeed, even though anxiety can essentially take over the mind, often the physical symptoms are the issues that seem the most overwhelming. Severe anxiety is fraught with physical symptoms, and – especially during anxiety attacks – those symptoms start to become more and more intense until they’re the only thing your mind and body can focus on. Examples of these symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pains
- Trouble breathing
These symptoms seem to be felt in every area of your body, and they also tend to cause severe anxiety on their own and ultimately lead to an anxiety attack. Anxiety genuinely is very physically overwhelming, especially if you’re prone to panic attacks.”
What To Do When The Feelings Come
My suggestions about what to do should any of the foregoing seems familiar to you are:
- Get help. Talk to someone. Seek professional support
- Don’t catastrophize but do not ignore.
- Write down exactly what you are going through. Draw a line through the centre of a paper and headline one column: Worst Case and the second: Ideal Outcome
- Stemming from #3, fast forward your life in your mind and go to the end of it. Will what is happening now matter? If yes, on another sheet write down “What Can I Do Now.” You can only take it a step at a time, maybe a minute at a time. So do that.
- Find ways to distract yourself from the immediate “crisis” until you can do all the above. Exercise, being in Nature, going for a drive, run or walk are some of the physical things you can do try turn down the “drama” in your head. All else fails, take a nap. that works for me with soothing music.
Overwhelmed No More
Check out the anxiety test at the Calm Clinic that I mentioned earlier. As someone who has been there and still sometimes “doing that,” I am here to walk with you. Check out my services on Fiverr, especially my accountability coaching package.