Today was ridiculously overwhelming. Between arguing with Chris, the people who stopped by to visit and then the cookout that was scheduled by my MIL just this morning I feel like I’m falling apart. Evie was super clingy on top of all of that. I don’t blame her of course, she just kept asking what I was doing and wanting me to sit down and play. She didn’t like seeing me stressed. My sweet girl. Also if my mom doesn’t stop trying to scoop up guys my age off tinder I might have a meltdown. Like dude bro STOP you are not in your 20′s, I went to school with these guys, my 15 year old sister is closer in age to these guys, this is making me extremely uncomfortable.
Finding Balance in Troubled Times
How to cope when the world feels overwhelming

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estés

There’s something in the air lately, you can almost feel it. I started sensing it a few months ago, and my clients are beginning to bring it up in sessions a lot more often, too. Quite simply, we’re feeling overwhelmed—made anxious by the contentious political climate of an election year, saddened beyond words by the mass shooting in Orlando, the violence in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas, burned out by a news cycle that continues to both reflect and amplify our fears. If you’re a compassionate person, one who strives to make the world a better, more meaningful place, times like these can feel quite disheartening.

Which is why we need to remember, more than ever, to hold a space for goodness, hope, presence, and gratitude in our daily lives. It can be hard to do with so much noise and negativity all around us— believe me I know. But it’s also one of the best antidotes we have available, a way to balance the scales and reset our perspective. Our brains are quite literally set up to overlearn from negative experiences and feelings, and primed to respond in a fight/flight/freeze way to any perceived threat. Thousands of years ago, this served a distinct evolutionary advantage—the more you feared, and acted out of that fear, the better your chance of survival. However, in our modern cultural moment, the brain’s built-in ‘negativity bias’ actually works against us. It overlearns from the anxiety and fear provoked by images of violence and hatred on the news, or viral videos on social media of tragedies occurring throughout the world, or even just the email your friend forwarded to you yesterday about the upcoming election. And the more of this you consume each day, the more frightened and hopeless your perspective becomes, until eventually a sense of learned helplessness starts to set in.

During times like these, our overworked brains need to be provided with a sense of safety and balance to allow us to keep engaging with life rather than retreating from it out of fear, anxiety, anger, or despair. So how do we do this? Well, here are a few tried and true ways to go about it:

Cultivate Mindfulness & Presence
First and foremost, we need to find a way to ground ourselves and accept whatever emotions might be arising in any given moment. The best way to do this is to increase our capacity for mindfulness—“a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment”—and find ways to make this a part of our daily routine. Numerous studies have shown that just a few weeks of mindfulness practice decreases stress and negative emotions, enhances compassion, and even boosts our immune system. If you don’t already practice some form of mindfulness, here are two easy ways to get started.

  • Headspace: this is the one I most often recommend to clients (and also use myself). It’s a website and phone app which offers a free series of stuctured 10 minute meditations to ease you into developing a daily mindfulness routine.
  • R.A.I.N.: a simple and powerful mindfulness tool that offers us a way to work with and through difficult and intense emotions. It can be used in most any situation—especially when we are feeling overwhelmed—to help us gently reflect on what is happening inside of us, and learn to accept whatever is.

Limit Your Media Exposure
We all have different thresholds when it comes to consuming the barrage of news, media, and images available to us these days, and it’s important to know your own personal limit—and then set up healthy boundaries to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Remember: It’s ok to put down your phone, step away from your computer or television, or unplug from media altogether for a bit   when the news starts to feel overwhelming. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary.

Connect with Others
We are social creatures by nature, and the more we connect with others the less isolated, depressed, and anxious we tend to feel. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world around you, try making more time in your day to talk through it with those around you. Share how you’re feeling with the people in your life and hold space for them to do the same with you.

Take in the Good
In the midst of especially troubling times, it’s more important than ever to learn how to consciously “take in the good”. To make a purposeful effort to seek out and appreciate all the daily acts of goodness and kindness taking place throughout the world, as well as to reflect on the small good things that happen in your own life each and every day. Doing so helps us find balance in the middle of all the noise, and enhances our sense of humanity and gratitude. Remember, for every awful thing you hear about in the media, there are scores of amazing and compassionate acts taking place as well. These things won’t often get the same amount of news coverage or attention, but it’s not because they aren’t happening. So, we have to make time to seek them out and to remind ourselves that this world can be a beautiful and awe-inspiring place, too. If we don’t, we will very quickly lose sight of the fact that, our own anxiety to the contrary, this is actually the very best (and safest) time to be alive in human history, by most any metric.

Make Time for Self-Care
Create space in your day for the things that bring peace, contentment, relaxation, or laughter into your life. Around the Wellspring office, this takes all kinds of forms. One of my colleagues sets aside time to watch animal videos on YouTube in the midst of a stressful day, another walks around the nearby Botanical Gardens. Personally, I like to put on headphones and lose myself in a good podcast or some music I enjoy, read through a favorite book or poem (currently I’m reading Maggie Smith’s new poem, “Good Bones” several times each day), or find something online that makes me laugh out loud. Engage with nature, with art, with exercise. There’s no wrong way to do this and plenty of reasons to make time for it—even a simple 10 minute break from the stress and routine of ‘real life’ can have a beneficial impact on your overall mood and mental health.

These are difficult and trying days for many of us, and it can certainly feel overwhelming at times. But there’s work to do—to “mend the part of the world that is within our reach”—and in order to do so, we need to find ways to recharge our own batteries and bring our minds back into balance. The better care we take of ourselves, the better able we will be to engage with the world around us. And this world needs all of the love, compassion, kindness, and attention we can give it right about now.

i don’t know how tf people can do so much in their everyday life, like?  how do you exercise, go to school, work, and maintain relationships all while staying on top of your mental health?  i can not fit all that in one day without dropping the ball or having a meltdown before the week is out.  how do you do it?  how do you keep that pace?

loofahlover  asked:

I'm a third year medical student + introvert, currently in my family medicine rotation. I love the patients and residents I work with, but I get overwhelmed by dealing with so many people and talking and getting new information all the time. By the end of the day, I'm exhausted and ready to cry. Any tips you have on how I can better handle things, or should I just get used to that feeling?

I’m pretty worn out by the end of the day too. To some extent, that’s going to be true as long as you’re in medicine. It’s just an overwhelming job sometimes and people put a lot of their burdens and secrets and problems on you.

 It’s probably worse as a student though, because you’re not just getting lots of information from patients, but you’re being bombarded with new words and concepts and facts all day long and are expected to absorb most of it. That can be very daunting. That will get easier as your knowledge base expands and you don’t have to use as much brain power to find answers. 

Personally, I think I’ve learned to adapt by almost immediately forgetting everything when I leave an exam room. This is obviously a problem sometimes, which is why I take copious notes in the room so I can do my notes later. But I guess what I’m saying is I don’t allow people’s issues to stick with me most of the time. That may sound sort of callous, but you have to learn to separate work and life at some point, otherwise you’ll go nuts. 

I think having someone to talk to about your frustrations and overwhelming feelings at work really helps because it takes some of the load off your shoulders when you let it out. I would strongly recommend you try seeing a counselor or even a trusted friend or attending to talk to on a regular basis. 

I’ve also found that my blog is a huge outlet for me. Writing out patient stories, whether they’re sad or annoying or maddening or whatever really helps take some of the sting off of my mind and heart. I have lots of stories that I don’t publish publicly here because they’re written just for my own emotional benefit. You may want to try something like that or writing in a journal for 30 minutes or so after work every day about your feelings and experiences of the day. You may find it to be a cathartic release. It’s a good exercise for us introverts. 

I wake up at noon and most days don’t even leave the house, all the while thinking of how much my life sucks. I can’t get back in school and I’m too anxious and scared to even apply for a job as expenses keep piling up. Money is getting tight and I fear that I’ll soon be too overwhelmed to even function. I can only hope that I can soon find the courage to make a better life for myself.