Yes, it certainly feels like a ‘thing’ doesn’t it? One of those memes with steam coming out of your head (or maybe nostrils come to that) comes to mind. We have busy lives – life happens, doesn’t it? Yet, we can make choices to step off the treadmill (if it feels like that of course) and give ourselves quality time to manage our stress levels.
We are the queens of multi-tasking, juggling home lives, professional careers, kids, teens, aging & poorly parents, and you know what, we just want someone else to replace the toilet roll, empty the bin, take the clothes out of the washing machine & put them in the dryer.
Can it be that difficult?
yet it can really send us into mental ‘over’ load, overwhelm, anger, irritation, annoyance – however it feels for you. I’m there with you, soul sister.
Our ‘inner critic’ can really give us a good poke in our midlife when we are all too aware that we may be more forgetful, our concentration is waning and with that self-doubt begins to creep in about how we are coping with day-to-day stuff. Sound familiar? It’s a time to be kind to ourselves, show ourselves compassion and quieten down the inner critic who is hell bent on making us feel incompetent, guilty, ashamed. It’s vying for our attention; we need to befriend it and that comes with self-compassion rather than pressure to challenge it & blame ourselves.
So, what can we do when we feel these trying & emotional times are upon us & we are trying to fend them off? What can be our ‘go to’s’?
–Step away from the ‘drama’ Or, as I like to say ‘don’t buy a ticket’ for the circus. Be the ‘observer’ off the pitch – on the side lines as the lineswoman, notice what is or could potentially play out & create a moment of distance & separation.
–How are you ‘surfing’ your emotions? Tune into what you are feeling & how your emotions are showing up in your physical awareness (or interoceptive awareness – as I recently learned). Noticing is key to be able to move away from what could potentially send us into mental ‘over’ load & send our stress levels sky rocketing.
-Write down your thoughts, feelings & emotions – journal or track them or drop a voice note to yourself to express how you are feeling. Let me out! Get things off your chest.
– You have more power than you think. Grab a paper & pen – draw yourself three concentric circles & jot down where your focus is now – what does the size of those circles tell you and what you may or may not have squeezed in the blank spaces? The circle of control & Influence is simple and accessible, a way to regain a feeling of control and agency when at first it seems like you have none. It’s a great tool to help you discover where you have more power than you think. Focus your energies on what you can control & influence. Let go of what we can’t control & influence – our circle of concern. Find a starter for ten here: Find a starter for ten here: https://medium.com/an-idea/circle-of-concern-vs-circle-of-control-e7cc15c644d3 to get you thinking and help take back your power from a place of worry & overwhelm. Discover your circle of control & influence.
– Shift your environment. We are wired into being human ‘doings’ rather than be human ‘beings’. It can be a pocket of time to create some separation from what has triggered you.
Make a cup of tea or coffee – whatever you fancy. Get up from the laptop. Do some stretches & squats, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Potter in the garden. Dance around your lounge. Sit in the sunshine for some Vitamin D. Do some mindful breathing. Pop on some mediation from one of the great apps – Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace. Go for a walk (if you have more than 5 or 10 minutes on your side and it isn’t pouring, as it is today as I write this). Don’t feel pressurised into keeping going – your stop off will be more powerful & re-energising than you may think. You will be amazed at how creating some space can increase your productivity on return rather than feel that you must be the ‘busy bee’ and push on – some form of martyrdom in action there? Yes, it does feel counterintuitive at the time. Feels like that for me often than not & I have to check in on myself, as that ‘lineswoman’ to notice what’s going on.
– Boundaries & getting others involved – Yes, we can say ‘no’ to look after ourselves to keep ourselves safe & manage our mental ‘over’ load. I love the phrases such as “I wish I could but I can’t”, “I can’t do that, but I can help you find someone who can”, “I appreciate the gesture, but in the future I would prefer ..”, “I can’t take on additional responsibility right now”. Get others involved – whether it be house chores, on-line shopping lists, date night (time to book a babysitter perhaps?), talk it out so those close to you understand how these niggles can send yourself into ‘orbit’. If we are struggling with brain fog & memory in our midlife, allow others close to you to do the remembering too, give them a checklist if helps them, to help you out.
– Self-care – if we can factor in some ‘non-negotiables’ into our daily routine, this can help us manage our stress, anxiety, overwhelm & irritability, ‘grounding’ ourselves when we really need it. It could be 10 minutes enjoying your coffee first thing in the morning, 5 minutes of mediation – morning or even lunchtime to create a degree of separation between morning or afternoon. To recharge & energise, do a different walk to work, try out something new for lunch, if you grab something whilst at work on the go, go for a run over lunchtime, listen to a podcast, (I can highly recommend – Feel better, Live more & Postcards from midlife, Happy Place with Fearne is good too), or listen to some new music – different band, singer, genre. Food for thought.
Regain your clarity from mental overload.