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Experiencing Daily Challenges and Overwhelm

You know those days when you want to pull the covers over your head when the alarm goes off?  Or when you look at your schedule for the day or maybe for the week, and wonder how you will possibly make it through?  Or you’ve been awake since 3 am unable to fall back asleep until a few minutes before the alarm goes off?  We each have our own version of overwhelm and stress, though essentially they are all very much the same.

I find some days way more challenging for me than others.  At times there doesn’t even seem to be any particular reason that I’m feeling so off and other days it is totally obvious.  I find all of them difficult to accept and maneuver through.  The darker and colder days of fall tend to make those kind of days even harder for me.  I find myself wanting to fix it by hitting the rewind button and going back to another time or hitting the fast forward to a much more comfortable place and time.  Anything other than being here now.


Self Inquiry and Honesty

As soon as I am aware of what is happening to me (which sometimes takes a while), I often ask myself “What is the opportunity in this kind of place where I feel tired, grumpy and plain out of ‘the groove’?”   I’m pretty sure that many of you know what I’m talking about!

Honestly, this happens much more than I would like to admit.  How do I find my way through this kind of a day?

First, I have been learning and practicing to accept and allow what is really happening in this moment.  For example, when I find a way to settle down and be quiet, I say to myself, “This is where I am and I don’t really like it at all.”   I’ve learned that I benefit so much by first being honest with myself. 

Everyone else around me benefits too when I acknowledge and admit what is happening, as I am less likely to take out my frustrations on them.  Sometimes the very act of being honest with myself can change the entire experience and take the charge out of it completely or at least partially.

I continue by asking myself, “In what ways?”

“I feel tired, overwhelmed and that if I am asked to make another decision about anything I will burst into tears.” (and sometimes I do give myself permission to have a good cry, which often can help unload a lot of the stress and overwhelm)

Most importantly I remind myself to take a breath and breathe…..as many times as I can remember to do so…….

I keep asking questions until I get to the centre of things even if is only for a moment.  And then I ask myself if I can be willing to still love and accept myself even when I’m feeling all of this stuff.  I sometimes feel resistance to this entire concept and I notice that too.  I give myself the opportunity to feel the resistance and what it is about. When I can, I make a choice to allow the resistance to let go.  It can be pretty hard some times and that is okay too.


Narrowing Down the Focus

Then I narrow my focus down as much as I can given all of my circumstances and committments and figure out what absolutely has to get done and what can wait.  I’ve learned over time that there are usually a number of things that I was pressuring myself about and thought were absolute, that really can wait.  Then I figure out what I can do, however big or small, that would feel supportive of myself in this moment.


Supportive Ideas

On Sunday when we had no committments for the day and I was exhausted, I listened to and honored what my body was telling me.  I went back to sleep until 1:45 pm!!  I know, I amazed myself too!  And I felt way better when I did finally get out of bed.

On a week day when there are more plans, maybe it is a cup of tea and a book, or a hot bath in the middle of the day or at the end of the day.  One of my favorites and most useful activity is walking or simply being out in nature.  I find walking gives me the opportunity to move at whatever speed I am feeling and I almost always feel different by the end of the walk.

On the days when I only have short periods of time, I use those few minutes to meditate and centre again and I make a plan for how I can really nuture myself at the end of the day. There are times too when watching a movie or disappearing into a book is the right solution for me.  I get curious about what will feel the the most nurturing and supportive and I give myself permission to partake, knowing that this funky place too will shift.

The key is to find some way to honor and acknowledge whatever it is that you are experiencing with as much acceptance and compassion for yourself as you can find.  If you find this challenging, think of how you would support your own child or close friend in this kind of situation.  If this is unfamiliar and new to you, be curious as to what will feel the most supportive and nurturing for you.  It may be different at different times or it might be the same every time.

I’ve also learned that these kind of days do not last forever either!  Sometimes it is only a portion of a day and sometimes it will slowly shift so that by the end of the day you wonder what happened earlier.  And sometimes it will last longer.  Ask for help, talk with a close friend or whatever eases you in these times.  Be curious what it is that you can do for yourself that will be nurturing and support you the most and find ways to do it!  You are worth it!


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Creating Balance

Many of us struggle with creating and maintaining balance in our lives.  We have so many opportunities to be busy and thinking about everything~from when to be where and how to fit that appointment into the schedule~ to how to manage and track all the paperwork/computer details of the day to day~to how to devote the time and energy into the relationships and activities that nuture and feed us the most~not to mention dealing with the relationships that challenge us the most!

Spending every moment of every day thinking is exhausting and very stressful over time.  Most illnesses today can be directly tracked back and have some kind of relationship to daily and long term stress.  So how do we develop different ways to move through our lives every day?  Where can we place our focus to help make things easier, more fluid and flowing?

One of the most simple and easy ways to begin is to focus on your breathing.  When you notice that situations and events are moving very quickly and you are feeling scattered, grumpy, and exhausted or tired, stop and focus on taking a big deep breath…..then another……and another.…..feel the air moving in and out of your body and allow your breathing to release the fatigue and scattered feelings.

Breathing is often the thing we first forget to do when the stress builds and yet it is the easiest and most simple way to relax.  Taking as few as one to four focused times to breath throughout the day will help substantially to decrease your body’s reaction to stress.  Taking the time to focus once an hour during the day to focus on breathing will help even more.

Another way is to tune into or focus on your heart space Our heart is much more powerful and all knowing than our mind.  We have been taught to be focused in our mind to move through all aspects of life.  This is often done to please others and to be noticed in attempts to feel loved and accepted.

When we live our lives guessing what the other person or people would like the most, we loose touch with who we really are and we often shut down our heart in order to avoid feeling hurt or pain.  We feel lost and are not even sure why.  When we are looking for acceptance from outside ourselves, we can feel like we are never enough for anyone or anything.

When we begin to look within and feel our own heart, to what is our own truth, to who we really are…..to see and recognize that peace comes from inside and only from inside…..we can then begin to discover who we are.  It becomes clearer and easier to recognize how we want to spend our time and energy.  Saying ‘no’ is easy when we know it is our truth. 

The more we can live our lives from our heart, which enables us to discover our authentic self, the easier life becomes and the more peace, love and joy we experience effortlessly.

May we all discover the balance of living life in peace, love and joy from within

February 7, 2010

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