God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Yellow serenity prayer

How I deal with “overwhelm” and you can too

This week on “Buzzwords That Make Me Want To Punch a Wall”: overwhelm. It seems to me, since the pandemic hit, the world has been suddenly concerned about “how to beat overwhelm.” As if it’s a new concept? Oh honey, I’ve been that b!tch.

This past week was less than ideal. Not my worst by any stretch, but the highlight reel includes: breaking my (expensive :’/ ) character shoes, straining my hamstring, and Aunt Flo rudely arriving two weeks early. By the end of Monday, I was ready for the week to be over. I can’t think straight when I’m overwhelmed—I feel unproductive and dizzy. Before I know it, I’m slouched on the couch, I have not seen a vegetable in 3 days, and all I want to do is leave my phone in the other room and ignore reality.

How I deal with overwhelm and you can too

Obviously, not the healthiest solution! Self-care isn’t avoiding your problems; it’s addressing your needs given your current circumstances. I have virtually attended injury prevention and nutrition seminars in the past week and the woman presenting used the example of watching Netflix. If you’re overwhelmed because you have so many assignments to do, binging a show is avoiding your problem. Watching an episode to clear your brain and let it breathe for 20-30 min is self-care.

Disclaimer: As always, nothing I write on this blog should be taken as medical advice or in place of professional guidance.

That being said, over the years I’ve collected several great tips from well qualified people. I’ve noodled through the years of therapy and Jesuit education I’ve experienced (some may say endured) and put together a simple process to start dealing with the overwhelm. Like I said I have been to therapy so I don’t actually punch walls like your local adolescent white boy. This is something I do instead. I combined a few strategies and put together a little chart for myself that actually calmed me down and made me feel more in control.

These are the questions I asked myself in the following order:

  • What is stressing me out?
  • What can I control?
  • What is not in my control? (Notice I don’t say cannot, you can do anything! But not everything is yours to do.)
  • What can I do about the things I can control? (Actual action verbs)
  • When can I do those things?

Here’s a look at what mine looked like this week:

How do you deal when you’re overwhelmed? Comment below!

Need inspiration for a new self care activity? Check out my other posts on mindfulness and mental health

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