Dealing with overwhelm

I’m feeling a bit calmer after my mini-meltdown on Wednesday evening. I was able to take Friday off work and spend the day being a tourist in London with two of my best friends. It’s amazing what a difference time with the girls can make sometimes, although it’s not always easy to coordinate as we live in different towns and countries! I was also able appreciate London and what a beautiful city it is to explore, rather than rushing in and out for work once a week like I usually do.

I saw my therapist on Thursday which helped too. I’d spent the night before trying to work out if I could cope financially working less hours, even though I don’t think for one minute that work would let me do that anyway. I was just feeling like I couldn’t cope, and that I’ll never be able to cope, that I’m too sensitive and not cut out for this life.

I wanted to write this post to remind me of some of the strategies we talked about to implement when I start feeling overwhelmed.  Start by asking myself this question:

Is there anything constructive I can do?

Can I ask for support at work?  Can I ask my mum for help staying on top of things at home like cleaning and washing? Can I start with small steps towards healthier eating again like buying some ready made salads rather than feeling like I need to cook lots of healthy veggie food? Look at recipe books and the inspiration to cook again might come.

Can I accept the food and home situation as being good enough rather than having to be perfect? The same applies to work.

Know that the  cravings for sweet things will pass after a few days of eating healthier foods and it will become more habitual. Can I leave my cards at home so stopping to buy unhealthy food isn’t an option?

Remind myself of the sense of achievement I feel after exercising. I was so good at going to the gym five days a week whether I felt like it or not. I packed my bag and it became part of my routine. It made me feel better about myself and I was loosing weight so I need to get back into that mindset.

What is this thinking give me?

I like to ask myself this question too. Is this train of thought or worrying going to lead anywhere useful? If not then it serves no purpose.

Plan things to look forward to

I know that working more than three months without taking some holiday isn’t good for me. I’ve done it before and end up feeling like this. I’ve been working on a project with a tight deadline though so my boss won’t let me take time off until after it. Last week I was feeling quite angry and resentful that everyone else I work with is on holidays at the moment and I’m not. However I do have some time-off in August to go camping and spend a few days with friends.

Having things to look forward to is really important – I feel like I live from one holiday to the next! I spoke to a friend who was open to the idea of going on holiday together in September so that’s really cheered me up. I also want to spend some time with my Lonely Planet India book. It’s my absolute favourite place on earth and there are so many more places there that I want to explore.

If I can’t take time off I also need to make the most of the weekends. It’s been difficult recently because I’ve had to work some of them which definitely contributed to how I’m feeling at the moment. Plan day trips for the weekends so I get a change of scene and sense of adventure.

Slow down

Make time to meditate and read. Switch off the phone and TV. Look back over things I’ve written and notes from therapy sessions. Don’t over commit – if I need to decline some social invitations and do a bit less for a while, that’s fine.

Be creative

Make time to write, paint, dance.

Look ahead

Look at other ways of making income in the long-term. Research possibilities.

Remember that I can cope and that I am doing this

This is just a normal response to stress. It’s not depression. Lots of people feel like this when pressure builds up and need to find ways to release it. Because of my past experiences I fear that I’ll go back to being like that again and it petrifies me.