I hope you are having a glittery week? How are you feeling? I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the things I have on my plate at the moment, and it inspired me to think of ways I – and other people – use to stay present when anxiety and overwhelm are threatening to consume your mind.
Have a read and see what you think…
First of all, let’s discuss what I mean by “staying present”. Staying present, put simply, is about awareness. Being aware of how you are feeling, the thoughts you are having and what is going on around you.
When we feel anxious and overwhelmed we feel it in our bodies, our breath and our thoughts. We will tense up, take shallow breaths – or, if you’re like me, hold your breath – and feel like you are drowning in a whirlpool of thoughts and things that need doing.
But if you are constantly caught up in thinking about what you have done, what you still need to do and panicking about your ever growing to-do list, you fail to live in the moment, and you will end up feeling even more overwhelmed.
It’s okay to take ten minutes to reconnect with yourself. In fact, there is nothing more important if you want to feel relaxed and in control.
These are five great ways to calm the tornado of thoughts, and bring your body back into balance.
Be Aware of Your Thoughts
People with anxiety – or who are stressed and overwhelmed – are often plagued by obsessive thoughts. Do you find yourself fixated on what you said to someone yesterday? Or how you behaved? Or maybe you find yourself constantly worrying about the future and what’s going to happen.
Whichever thought pattern you tend to have, try to give yourself ten minutes to accept those thoughts and pause them. Nothing will go horrendously wrong if you just let go for a second. Thoughts are just thoughts, they have no power in and of themselves. Worrying about something that has already happened won’t change the outcome. And worrying about something in the future, is worrying about something over which you have no control.
Focus on the present, and the positive actions you can take to move you forward in your day.
Write It All Down
One of the things I struggle with when it comes to accepting my thoughts, is the fear that I will forget all the things I have one my mind.
My absolute go-to solution is to write everything down. Grab a piece of paper and just splurge down everything that you’re worrying about. It’s a way of clearing out your mind and allowing yourself the space to be still for a few minutes, without those niggling worries.
Not only that, but by writing down the things that are bothering you, it makes it easier to deal with them. Something that you said that is worrying you, write it down, look at it objectively – that chances are it isn’t anything to worry about. Feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do? Write down a list of tasks and work out which ones are actually important, which are urgent and which really aren’t worth stressing about.
Focus on Your Breath
On the train the other day, I felt the creeping tendrils of a panic attack coming on – and that familiar sense of all the air being squeezed out of my lungs. Rather than allowing the panic to consume me, I acknowledged it and then – in a slightly woo woo way, but go with me here! – I placed a hand on my chest and spoke to my body. I told myself that everything was okay, that I could get enough air and that I was safe.
Then I turned my thoughts to my breath. I spent the rest of the train journey practising diaphragmatic breathing, inhaling for four and exhaling for four. Want to know more about breathing techniques? Download a copy of my FREE self-care cheat sheet. By talking kindly to myself and then focusing on the act of breathing, I was able to calm and clear my mind.
Some people find the easiest way to remind themselves to stay present, is to have a physical object to touch.
Choose something that has personal meaning or significance to you – it might be a piece of jewelry, a seashell, or a slip of fabric. Whatever it is, have it on you at all times so that whenever you feel a moment of panic or overwhelm you can touch it. Make yourself think about the feel of it, the shape, the texture, what it means to you. Focus entirely on that one object and it will help to ground you in that moment, away from the sandstorm of overwhelm.
My final tip to help you stay present is simply to practice. Boring but true. The absolute best way not to let yourself be bombarded by thoughts is to make yourself spend a few minutes each day just being, or just focusing on one specific thing – be that breathing, a grounding object, or just a specific task that needs completing.
The more often you practice these techniques, the easier it will be to guard yourself against the storm of thoughts and worries.
Time For Self Care
Like anything, you’ll have good days and bad days, and that’s okay. If you are prepared and give yourself the tools you need to move past the bad moments, you’ll find they become less frequent.
One of the things I find particularly helpful are guided meditations. So I’ve created one just for you. It’s a 5-minute anti-anxiety meditation which will help you find peace and calm whenever you’re feeling anxious or ungrounded. Download it for FREE by popping your details below (plus you’ll get some extra bonuses to help you live your healthiest, happiest life!) Sign up now: