Link love: Monitoring overwhelm

Life is really good for me right now, but it’s also very full. I know from past experience that there is often a thin line between a full, fulfilling, and enjoyable life and one of overwhelm, unhappiness, and frustration. Which side of that line I am on often has less to do with actual circumstances and more to do with how well I am taking care of my self in the busyness of life. When I am rested and have energy, it’s so much easier for me to maintain a positive outlook and enjoy all of the things I’m doing. When I allow myself to become drained and tired, my mood, thoughts, and attitude can take a very quick turn for the worse, and this all too often leads to crash-and-burn situations because I don’t catch it in time.

Now that I have become more aware of this pattern, I am paying more attention to my energy levels and what my body is telling me, so I can implement extra self-care fast when I notice a downhill trend. As I’ve done this, I’m finding myself noticing ideas and suggestions from other people about what works for them. This week, I’ve collected several links on this topic that I’ve collected from other bloggers over the last few weeks to share with you.

Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project, has been one of my favorites for several years now in learning to observe myself and really become aware of what makes me happy (not what I or  other people think should make me happy). She had a really great post recently called Do You Have Any “Tells” That Show That You’re Feeling Stressed? that talks about being aware of our own patterns that can signal us that we are becoming too stressed. She shares two of her “tells” that she’s learned to watch for. This has had me observing myself even more closely to become aware of what two or three “tells” I have that would function as early warning signs. I have some general ideas (I get irritable, need more sleep, want to get lost in books, have no energy), but I’d really like to figure out which couple show up first so I can get the earliest possible warning.

Cordelia from the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits had a great post recently called The Secret to How I Do It All (Brought to You by Buffalo Trace, Cuddles, and the Letter “Q”) that talks about how she deals with overwhelm. Given the amount that is on her plate, this is someone who is well acquainted with overwhelm and still manages to be quite successful! While a couple of these tips are practical in the sense of how to manage all that needs to be done (like, write everything down), I love the fact that an awful lot of her way of dealing with it involves self-care (like, asking for cuddles). It reminds me that my usual focus on plodding forward more efficiently may not always be the best approach to dealing with my own overwhelm. Sometimes taking “non-efficient” self-care breaks is more helpful that pushing forward.

Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-conformity blog wrote last month about How to Be Unhappy. While the title sounds a bit unrelated to my topic, his list of things to do make ourselves unhappy is a good reminder of the things I can do make myself happy (that is, the opposite of everything on his list). It’s a great read, and I keep coming back to the list to remind myself of the little things I can change about how I approach life that will help keep my energy high and my attitude positive so I am less likely to get wrapped up in a story of overwhelm to begin with. It’s also a great list to check myself against so that I can catch those thoughts, habits, and tendencies that might lead to unhappiness before they get there.

The last one I want to highlight is from Jennifer Loudon’s blog. Her post is called The Art of Pre-Grieving. Again, the title sounds like an unlikely addition to this particular list, but it had a very helpful reminder for me. She writes about the lessons she learned from losing her father to cancer. It’s about how living with the recognition that all good things will end allows us to better appreciate and savor the moments while we are in them. Especially when I am feeling rushed and busy, it is very easy for me to get so focused on the final goal that I miss the journey. Her words reminded me that this moment is all I have, so it is important to step back from the focus on the completion of my goals to find the joy and the pleasure in the path that is leading me there.  What a great way to help myself step back from overwhelm to just be right here in this moment!

How do you watch for overwhelm in your life? What do you do in your life when you begin to get too stressed? How do you return to your equilibrium?

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