So, I have to write this today, after another day of feeling this hitting hard. Running your own business alongside the myriad challenges of running a household with 3 kids can take it’s toll. And when you are the only one doing all the thinking, organising, sorting, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning (oh oops, I think I said cleaning a lot!!!); it can send you into a space of overwhelm.
So, I have to write this today, after another day of feeling this hitting hard. Running your own business alongside the myriad challenges of running a household with 3 kids can take its toll. And when you are the only one doing all the thinking, organising, sorting, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning (oh oops, I think I said cleaning a lot!!!); it can send you into a space of overwhelm.
According to Brené Brown, and her incredible research for the book, Atlas of the Heart, we often speak about overwhelm, but aren’t actually experiencing it, and labelling it as such can actually make us lead ourselves to despair quicker. Dr. Brown describes overwhelm as being a sensation that you literally can’t do anything and need to escape immediately as you are physically and emotionally incapable of continuing. The only cure for this is actually “non-doing time”. I feel that I have often labelled my experiences as being overwhelming, when actually they would be more accurately described as exhausting, draining or deeply stressed.
Oh, but Beth, this is just semantics, I hear you say. Why does it really matter what words you use to describe what is going on, whatever you are experiencing is valid, regardless of its label. Well, if you are indeed saying that, then, firstly, thank you for validating my experiences, but I would have to say that when we mislabel experiences it can have a dramatic effect on our view of our life experiences, and consequently how we see ourselves within the world. So if we are always saying that we are in a constant state of overwhelm, and actually we are stressed, we are probably not handling the situation correctly in the first place, and we are also seeing ourselves as someone who we really aren’t.
So, if you are super stressed out, but call it overwhelm, you may be seeking a solution by stopping all the things that you are doing, because you happen to know that course of action is suitable for the state of overwhelm. However, if you simply stop everything you are doing and are super stressed you aren’t managing the stress appropriately, and find yourself checking out, when you actually need a cognitive or practical solution to the situation or circumstances you are in.
In case you are getting a case of TLDR, I’m getting to the good bit here… there are actually really useful things that we can do to prevent slipping into that state of overwhelm from stress, which is a normal response to a lot of the day to day survival of most people.
So if you feel yourself getting to that state where you can no longer do anything, the first thing to do is STOP. That’s right, just stop. (obviously if you are driving, come to a safe stop at the side of the road). It doesn’t always have to be for a long time, with acute overwhelm, ten minutes can suffice, but in chronic cases, a longer period of stopping is necessary.
To be honest with you, it is clearly better when we recognise that we are sailing a bit too close to the border between stress and overwhelm, and engage in activities to prevent it instead. I’ve put together a mini FREE training on Burnout prevention, based on the book of the same name by the Nagoski sisters. This takes you through steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of a case of overwhelm, or if you feel something coming your way.
Click here for your FREE 5 minute training