The Antidote to Overwhelm

I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

I signed up for three different coaching programs that each demand their own Herculean effort to complete and for one month, October, they all overlap.

I certainly wouldn’t have planned it this way had I been in charge of the master plan.  But often times one thing leads to another and several doors fly open at once.

The seemingly innocent challenge I took up in January to write 500 words a day for 30 days set me up for a year of upping the ante. I figured if I could do that, I could do just about anything.  So I started doing stuff.

By showing up, being accountable, and being visible, brave new worlds have opened up to me. When the information is so valuable, so life-changing, so timely, it doesn’t make sense to wait until it all fits nicely into my schedule.  Such is the case with my coaching programs.

And here’s what I’ve discovered about overwhelm.  The antidote to overwhelm is not giving up, but engaging in something whole-heartedly, completely, passionately.  Right now I have to fire on all cylinders in order to keep up.  From what goes into my mouth to what comes out of it, I’m acutely aware of the impact on my energy level.

Although it’s easy to complain, the only thing I really have to do is prioritize. Daily. Hourly.  This means giving up bad tv and carbs and regularly working outside my comfort zone. It means going the extra quarter mile. It’s really not a bad trade considering what I’m getting in return.

It’s a bit paradoxical.  When I have no energy, the last thing I think about is adding more to the mix.  However, if I add an experience that is so compelling, so enticing that I am leaning towards it, it has the ability to energize all areas of my life.

My guess is you’ve had a similar experience.  If not, the next time you feel like throwing in the towel, try picking up a project instead.

Whether it be something as simple as challenging yourself to get more steps each day than the previous day for 7 days in a row or organizing your parent’s love letters or creating a guest blog post, see how your new interest infuses your day with enthusiasm, curiosity, and a sense of adventure.

Be sure to give yourself a time frame that pushes you out of your comfort zone but not over the edge. Knowing that the project will last “x” number of days or weeks adds the urgency that tends to dissipate when there is no due date.

It is also incredibly helpful to have someone to hold you accountable who might also be doing the same thing or has been there, done that, and is willing to coach you through it.  In my coaching programs I have either a team or peer coach to check in with and that has been invaluable.

Certainly there are things we must do for ourselves.  But there are many things we shouldn’t do without support.  We have the collective wisdom of the ages at our fingertips.  Accessing it has never been easier.  As Barbara Sher said, “Isolation is a dream killer.

In a few months I will be launching the online course (Read It & Leap! ) I am creating in one of my coaching programs.  In it I share several secrets about taking small leaps to move you into a life that is the antidote to overwhelm – an engaged, inspired, involved existence.

If you’d like to know more about it, email me with the word Leap! in the subject line and I will be sure to let you know when I roll it out.

In the meantime, I’d love for you to share your antidote to overwhelm in the comments below.

Ten Zen Seconds

It’s official.  I’m overwhelmed.

Basic math suggests adding things to my schedule without subtracting anything results in a crowded and cramped life.

But as the former Queen of Calm, I plan to dig deep into my toolkit and pull out a few tried and true tension tackling tips.

The best strategy for me is to slow down my racing, negative thoughts and breathe slowly and deeply.  Last night I assigned my mind to figure a few things out while I was sleeping.  Sure enough, when I awoke, Ten Zen Seconds was the first thing that came to mind.

The irony of meditating or contemplation is we like to think we don’t have time for it.  But taking a few moments to question the voice of panic and listen for the voice of clarity can save a lot of mindless activity.

It also helps to know we’re not alone.  Since I’m guessing I’m not the only one who might be feeling frazzled, I wrote this for all of us.

In this riot of activity
find an oasis of calm.
Breathe deeply,
slow down the thoughts,
ask for clarity,
and focus on the one thing
that flows from this moment.
Trust that finishing this sentence
is the best way to be here now.
Honoring the present moment
is the only guarantee
we’ll even be aware
of our future.

Ten Zen Seconds
is all it takes…
I am equal to this task,
to my life,
to all I have chosen to take on now…
despite the part of me who wants to dispute that
and do nothing more than watch tv and consume carbs.
But the wiser part of me knows better,
knows I can do this,
I can make informed nutritional choices,
manage my time,
and focus my energies.

Other people handle far more than I do every day.
Even though comparing myself to them
doesn’t diminish my load,
it does remind me that
I can figure this out and
I chose to take this on.

Breathe in compassion,
breathe out judgment and criticism.
Breathe in openness and spaciousness,
breathe out fear and constriction.
There is enough time, energy, money, love, forgiveness, understanding.
Breathe it all in.
Breathe it all out.

Then
just
breathe.

Peace out.