What intrigues me is the physiological impact of overwhelm and the link to the waters as I feel this could hold the keys that will help us to overcome overwhelm. From a craniosacral viewpoint, we work with the tides within – and overwhelm can suppress the healthy movement within this craniosacral system.
The symptoms of overwhelm
If you wake up in the morning dreading the things you need to do and feeling anxious, chances are you’re in overwhelm mode before you even start your day. Overwhelm may show up in our lives through intense irritability or melancholy, significant anxiety and panic, stress over things that may be of little significance, or an inability to distinguish thoughts from reality. Some people will withdraw and isolate themselves. The key symptom is that all tasks are thwarted by intense emotion (the world of the waters).
Other symptoms may include changes to appetite, sleeping habits or a compromised immune system: catching colds more easily, developing asthma/eczema and digestive issues.
Overwhelm can start a spiral of feeling out of control, confused, and unable to make decisions. Add to this the increasing dependence on food, cigarettes, alcohol and/or drugs and it becomes a very slippery slope....
What Causes Overwhelm?
It is not at all uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed at some point in their lives. In fact there is even a list of the life events that are most likely to cause it! According to the widely validated Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, these are the top ten stressful life events for adults that can contribute to illness:
What to DO About Overwhelm?
Here are three things that may begin to help you to cope with overwhelm:
Be gentle with yourself. Admit and accept that you are overwhelmed. We all experience this at some time in our lives. The less we beat ourselves up about being overwhelmed, and the more accepting of ourselves we are, has a huge impact on how we can pull ourselves out of the situation.
2: Be realistic
It is a fast paced life we live in and multi-tasking and being available 24/7 are becoming the way of the world. So get real – everything can’t possibly get done but what are the biggest priorities? Try and make some time for stillness, switch the smart phone off, spend some time in nature: this is how we get perspective on the important things.
3: Scan addictions
Are there any substances or habits that might be contributing to a state of overwhelm? Take some time to review the crutch you unconsciously go for – it could be sugar, tobacco, drugs, alcohol...
More ideas to help with overwhelm
Regular exercise really does lift your mood. It also serves as a distraction from worries, and gives you some space to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts.
We are hugely relational beings: the simple act of talking face-to-face with another human works wonders! From a physiological point of view, it can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you're feeling agitated or insecure, helping to calm and soothe your nervous system.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response. Craniosacral therapy can also assist with this.
I want to finish this blog by saying that it is not okay to live our lives without pausing for breath, living for holidays and weekends. The world seems to accept that overwhelm is a necessary evil of modern day living. It is not. We do have a choice. Invest in yourself and make that choice today.