The first thing to go is the breath.
I mean the long, deep, easy breathing that gives us energy and makes us feel really relaxed.
All that remains is a shallow, gripping breath that’s anything but calming.
That’s the first sign that I’ve been overtaken by overwhelm.
Just the other night, I was overwhelmed — it doesn’t take much with me as a highly sensitive mom — and I realized that I can now sense it early enough to do something about it instantly rather than wait until my emotions are TOO big and out of control.
I’ve been living and teaching self-love and family wellness coping skills to overwhelmed, busy moms for years so they can feel strong and calm in their everyday life.
These Abundant Mama coping skills have helped keep me out of depression, feel calm instead of anxious and to feel peaceful in the chaos of parenting. And they are now so ritualized in my everyday life that when a rough patch of overwhelm strikes, I am really surprised.
Where did this come from, I think.
What did I do wrong?
And it’s often tied directly to the mere fact that I just didn’t take good ENOUGH care of myself.
And there’s soul-care.
When I hit overwhelm, it’s because I haven’t done the inner work that I need to deal with my anxiety and fears.
So, caught in that moment of overwhelm the other night, I took the very first action in my anxiety reducing plan.
Rather than fall apart or explode or collapse in tears, which is what I wanted to do or what I’ve done in the past, I went straight to my best friend.
My chair has become my best friend.
This particular chair is a simple chair from IKEA. It couldn’t have cost more than $60.
It sits in my bedroom in a space of its own. It’s comfortable enough … but not so comfortable that I forget why I’m there, which is to reclaim that strong and calm part of me that tends to get sideswiped by overwhelm.
When life turns sideways, as it often does, I head to my tan-brown chair and sit first and foremost.
I might sit for five minutes.
Or I might sit for 20.
Whatever it takes.
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And I release everything that is feeling wrong in 10 deep exhales.
Exhaling the mistakes.
Exhaling the arguments
The harsh words, mine and theirs.
The angry glares.
The disrupted plans and unmet expectations.
And anything else that just needs to leave my mind, body and spirit.
Then, like magic, those 10 deep breaths help bring me back to here and now, where as it turns out everything isn’t really the end of the world.
And I remember that overwhelm doesn’t own me. It doesn’t have to have power over me. It doesn’t have to always take over my emotions.
It can live here in harmony with the rest of us.
And I can continue to put it in its place.
Once I’ve sat, I move into the next steps of my anxiety reducing plan feeling refreshed and renewed. I’ll be sharing this plan with this month’s Abundant Mama eCourse participants in our final webinar. Register HERE.
Try this calming meditation at home: Sit and just exhale all the negative thoughts. Release them in 10 deep breaths. And, if you need 20 breaths, take 20. If you need 50, take 50. Trust yourself to know.