What do you do when you are smacked on the face/body and mind with overwhelm? A huge question that doesn’t come with a simple universal answer. It hits everyone differently and we all process it differently too. Well, my personal solution is always with kindness. It doesn’t come easily to me either, but I always do my best to shake it off using some of the below techniques.
Go for walk:
That is by far my absolute favorite. Considering the fact that we live in Dubai - I still go out for a walk – even on summer days. Just being outdoors in nature, has a calming and grounding effect on us as human beings. An advice for you, try to tune into nature with full awareness when you go outdoors, sit next a tree, touch that flower and rub your feet against the grass or sand. When you are exposed to natural light, it boosts your oxygen level in the brain, which in turn boosts the levels of serotonin in the body (altering your mood).
You can do yoga, go for a run or even go to the gym. Whether you are exercising alone or with a group of people in the studio, your magical brain will release endorphins (neurotransmitters) that will signal your whole body to feel good, instantly improving your mood. You know that feeling after you finish your workout session? Yes, that’s the one. I know working-out might be the last thing on your mind when you are overwhelmed, but do give it a try and if your body is not following, then try one of the other options.
Again, I am aware when we are in a grumpy mood, the last thing we want to do is sit down quietly. Meditation is an awesome tool to calm our nervous system down and help us re-group our focus on something else other than our present issues and overwhelm. Try guided meditation for 10 minutes of any type that you might prefer. I have always liked using calm app for quick soothing effects.
Also the exercise of body scanning and following the breathe is mysteriously relaxing to our emotional and nervous system. If you are not used to meditation, then I would ask you to try it for a few minutes and then check how you feel in your body. Don’t over-do it the first time.
Talk to a friend:
A wonderful form of therapy is talking to a trusted friend or a family member. Like Brene Brown said once on one of the shows, “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?". This means you choose someone who is willing to sit in the dark with you and listen wholeheartedly without shaming you. And most importantly someone who will embrace your vulnerability. These are my best type of people, I have my own list of to-go-to people. Love them!
Cuddles & hugs:
Whether it's your partner, child, friend or even your pet. Squeeze in as many cuddles and hugs as you can when you want to shake those big feelings. Going scientific on you again: oxytocin “love/cuddle hormone” gets released by the brain, creating a cosy and warm feeling in the body.
Listen to or read your favourites:
Sometime when I don’t feel like using any of the above techniques, I put on my favorite tunes – and I listen to Hip hop – so you can imagine the uplifting effect it has on me. It also brings a lot of great memories from my youth and makes me realise how grateful I am for my experiences (including the great and not-so-great ones).
If you can focus on text, then try reading your favorite book. I tend to read poetry when I am feeling down. Easy to read and then I can reflect on the meaning gently. My go-to-list is Nayyirah Waheed, Yrsa Daley-Ward and Yung Peublo.
Write about it:
Journaling on daily basis or not, try to grab a pen and paper and write about your experience at the moment. Ask yourself real solid questions, the why, when and how does it feel in your body. Whether you have the answers or not, just remember to be kind and gentle to yourself. We sometimes worry about things that didn’t happen and end up not happening after all. Kindness is key here.
Do you paint? Then paint and put your emotions out on canvas or paper. If you play a musical instrument, pottery, play tennis…etc. Whatever it is you have as your favorite hobby, go and do it even for 10 minutes.
All of the above suggestions are my personal preferences to grounding and calming my racing thoughts that lead to overwhelm. You can also try some of them out with your children when they are experiencing big emotions. Write to us and tell us which of the techniques above helped you with your overwhelming moments and if you have anything that I should add to the list: email@example.com