About dealing with being overwhelmed

Our facilitator, Emőke Kiss wrote a lovely train of thought, worth considering if you tend to be overwhelmed easily.

Let’s face it, life can get overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like unidentified big piles covering us, other times we start by pointing to things, experiences, emotions, people, tasks, and so much more that can get too much and can take away the power over us. The key, I believe, is to find a grip on it, something that we can hold when pulling ourselves out, up or even better: together, and then we see that there is space, there is fresh air, and also ease behind this state. Surrendering to what is, knowing that this state is not everything and there is further – is golden here.

I am writing this blog post in the process of being overwhelmed and finding my way to manage it. This situation is a mix of being right after an intense experience, having long to-do lists still, needing bigger amounts of sleep and recharge than usual, juggling between more jobs and projects, having to close what is done already, replying to people, preparing for an exam, last minutes, deadlines, packing out, packing in, preparing food, basic tasks from everyday life, selecting, deciding, planning in continuation – and everything too. (Everything? Really?)  In other words: being in the past, present and future all at the same time. Does it sound familiar? Moreover, having physical signals in the form of nose bleeding that it’s time to stop or adjust my mindset to a more sustainable one. On the top, at a certain point in this current state, I also thought that I lost my ID, but after a series of vicissitudes, I managed to find it. (Symbolic, right? Where did my identity disappear while being overwhelmed? And how can I find myself again?)

Though it’s not the first time that I feel this way, neither the 100th, but even much more – it is still giving me hard times and it is incapacitating me until I realise that feeling overwhelmed is a mental-emotional state which grows or dissolves depending on how I label it. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” says also the quote of Shakespeare.

In this overwhelming state everything flows together, trapped by the waves – can I even breathe? Since I perceive it as everything, it is an extreme experience. Breathing always helps. And I need it to ground myself. What also helps is framing it. This state is for now, and it will pass. There is further and I am more than this.

What I did is that after giving these new thoughts to my mind, I calmed myself down and accepted that I would not do everything for now, and I prioritised 3 main topics on my neverending to-do list and started to do one at a time, for a certain amount of time.  This made me be in the present again, I focused on what I was doing.

Often our environment reflects our state of mind. In this case, it got messy, complicated, and all over the place. Where do I start? In Buddhism and Japanese Shintoism, cleanliness has historically been regarded as an essential part of religious practice. In these religions, cleaning is believed to be a simple, but powerful way to improve good mental health through keeping one’s surroundings beautiful. So what I also did: I made an order and I cleaned that part of my living environment that was bothering me the most.

I suddenly remembered a sentence from a dear acquaintance of mine who, before a long journey, had to solve millions of small things at once, saying that „I will do now what I can. The rest will wait for me.” This attitude also tamed my perfectionism: It’s okay if not everything from that long to-do list will be checked.

State management is about not identifying with the actual state that we are living in because there is more, we are more, but that isn’t everything. Even when being overwhelmed feels like everything is in our head, we can manage to stop it from having control over us. And there it is: I am me again, and I can choose what to do with what is there.

Thrive, our state management online retreat is meant to tackle these topics too: managing our state instead of controlling it, channelling it, so that it doesn’t flood everything. State management means that you stop your state from controlling you and your reactions and while living in your state, you accept it, and you rise above.

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