Doesn’t it seem clear what to do when a physical problem arises?
Say you cut your leg so you look at what happened, wash it out, and put a bandaid on it. And, for an emotional problem like being overwhelmed, many times it’s left to sort itself out (which it never does). Things become a lot easier when you put into practice ways to get back to your calm mind.
Having a reliable strategy when you’re overwhelmed will save you loads of stress, time, and energy.
A strange thing happened many years ago when I got certified to scuba dive. One part of the test was to take my mask off while under the water, put it back on, and then clear the water out of it.
As I opened my eyes, I realized water was still in my mask up to about my nose and began to panic. I felt like I was going to drown.
Then, it dawned on me. I could still breathe. In a moment of simple mindfulness, I began to relax and think of my options. I managed to pass the test and stay alive!
With mindfulness, you can deal with being overwhelmed in a similar do-able way.
3 Practical Ways to Calm an Overwhelmed Mind
1. Step Back
Observe yourself. Stand back and watch what’s playing out in your mind. Imagine you could see little bubbles coming out of your head like in a comic. What do they say? Now, just suppose you could slow them down and added a curious tone. What would they say?
Gently, let the image you’re seeing dissolve into the edges and fade away taking away all unpleasant feelings. If they keep arising, just repeat. Watch the scene and stay with them like a wave that eventually dissipates.
2. Make Things Smaller
As you’re observing everything, make all the big heavy things you’re seeing shrink in size. Notice how your overwhelmed feelings begin to lessen and things become lighter. Nothing is in your face anymore or on your back. Relax into the space that’s now available to you.
3. Find the Good
Take a moment to write now. Note down the details of the situation. Start listing out the lessons you’ve learned. And, most importantly, look for the gift this experience gave you.
For example, you may have messed up a financial report that went out to your leadership. The gift could be seeing ways to improve your internal processes, taking a pause to heal your mind, or finding you’re not in the role you want to be.
It’s absolutely do-able to manage overwhelmed feelings so you can go back to your calm mind. It takes putting in place practical ways that allow you to step back and treat this situation like any physical problem. Your strategy is your medicine. Make it work for you. Customize as you need.
Write these 3 little steps down on the back cover of your notebook. Next time overwhelm pops up, go back to look at them and begin your training. Once you get enough practice, you won’t need to think about this so carefully anymore.
You can do this and you will feel calmer.
I’d love to hear how it felt to take control of your overwhelmed feelings. Please share in the comments.
And, as always, share this email with anyone else that may benefit. This world can use more acts of compassion.