I was thinking about you this week and all the ways you may be experiencing overwhelm. I find it interesting that overwhelm is not always a symptom of negative circumstances in our lives. Sometimes there’s a lot of good going on and we’re just having a hard time keeping up with it all. Maybe you’re in the middle of a transition and all the impending unknown has your stomach in knots. Perhaps the real and raw of life feels like a black cloud threatening even the joyful bright spots in your day, only briefly silenced by the constant hum of social media or your “easy button” of choice. I’m with you, friend. I experience overwhelm, too. Here’s my go to arsenal when overwhelm comes for a visit. What would you add? I’d love for you to share your tips and wisdom in the comments below.
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1. Be still.
Sometimes in our culture, silence feel scary. Weird things rise up inside of us when we’re not preoccupied with something. The problem is when we run from the inward reality of our soul, our emotions feel ignored and are forced to strengthen and morph into all the colors of overwhelm, anger and depression to finally get our attention. God invites us to bring our hearts. It’s time for us to be as friendly to our own soul as He is. Instead of shaming our emotions, let’s introduce them to Jesus who cares for us more than we can ever fathom.
2. Be with Jesus.
No one’s over your shoulder “should-ing” you to do time with Jesus a certain way. The way I see it, I want everything that’s available to me. One of my posts this month was about being anchored through God’s Word in the topsy-turvy of life. God’s Word literally shows us what’s available through Christ. We can worship, we can listen, we can pray the roof down and we can grow deep roots as we meditate on who He is.
I know it can be hard to find time for this, but it can be such a life-giving practice. Sometimes I like to write in a journal. Other times, I have so many words that I need to record my thoughts in my computer, so I can type as quickly as I think. I know a guy who actually does this verbally through a recording app on his phone. Find what works for you. Journaling can really take #1 and #2 to the next level. Plus, it’s really beautiful to look back over time and see the goodness God was weaving in your story through the highs and lows of life.
4. Check your schedule.
Are you doing too much? Take a look at your calendar. Is your schedule sustainable? Read through your to-do list. Is there something internally that’s driving you to treat “would like to do’s” like “must do’s”? Consider crossing something off. What can you delegate? I’ve created codes for my list that remind me of the true priority level each task has to my day and my week. Our lists are to serve our greater purpose, not the other way around. I don’t know about you, but that is liberating to me.
5. Phone a friend.
The heavy stuff of life grows and takes over in isolation. Are you married? Check in with your spouse and stay current with each other. Don’t stop there though. We women need each other. Who can you reach out to for coffee? Investing in friendships can be hard, but it’s so worth the effort.
Yes, laugh! My husband and I have some go-to comedy sources that make us laugh until we cry, although between the antics and personalities of my kids, we rarely have to go looking for it. Oh, so good for my soul! This is my disclaimer: #6 won’t do much for me if I’ve not tended to #1 and #2. On the flip side, I often take myself way to seriously. Also, laughter is not denial of hard things we are facing or real hurt we may be processing. I’ve found that laughter can act like an irrigation system to thirsty ground in my soul, preparing tender places for healing and restoration. Gut-wrenching laughter is an essential for me if I want to keep my head on straight.
I feel crazy when I’m sleep deprived. Sometimes walking around bleary-eyed is unavoidable as a mom with young children or extreme circumstances that are hopefully temporary. If I’m honest though, if I’m not careful, I can stay up way too late (you know, because the kids are finally in bed!), all for everything I’m feeling to be compounded by my lack of sleep the day after. I’ve learned the hard way. #notworthit
It’s not the one-off situations that make or break us as women. I believe if we look honestly and buy into a vision of cultivating a grace-fueled and sustainable life, we’ll be well on our way to thriving, rather than just surviving.
Share your tips! How do you overcome overwhelm?