“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” ~Astrid Alauda

Have you ever felt an incredible weight of the world on your shoulders, spinning out of hand? Or a nagging feeling that you just can’t get anything done to your own satisfaction, and you just don’t know why? Have you ever found yourself feeling like you just have to get away from everything before you say something you’ll regret? Or over-reacted to simple things that would normally never bother you? That behind the calm facade there are monsters are lurking?

I sure have. As a recognizable type-A go-getter, it is something that I have battled for years, with various levels of success. Most recently, I have been feeling more and more overwhelmed, at times literally paralyzed by decisions I must make at work (What is our strategic plan?); choices I must make at home (Mom – what’s for dinner?); or even trying to get out and socialize (Hey – you up for a girls’ night or some yoga?). The past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with difficult technical breakdowns that have delayed significantly my ability to work efficiently. I also was told that I have abnormal sleep test results and was scheduled for the soonest possible appointment at the hospital’s sleep disorder clinic because I have a “severe category” sleep disorder. I had a wicked MS exacerbation, complete with pain and fatigue to the level of stupid. My darling Mike had personal crisis of his own. And I have had to travel for work. All while trying to figure out WHY I cannot beat this exhaustion.

By evening, I am so wiped, it hurts to have to talk, or put sentences together, or make any dicisions – even as simple as what to make for dinner. All this drama culminated this weekend as, after two solid days of remote systems repair efforts with work that didn’t work out, I broke down in tears by Friday afternoon because I could not get my Kobo reader to work either. Mike hugged me, and I sheepishly blamed my fatigue and tried to shrug it all off. Then Saturday, wanting a low effort comfort food dinner, I made my (usually) wonderful seafood corn chowder. My son was looking especially forward to it, and picked up crusty bread. Well – at the appointed dinner time, we were all starving, and my chowder just had not cooked in the crock pot. The potatoes were still raw!

Now normally, I would just shrug and say “ok – pizza tonite”. Not this night. This night, the chowder proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was frustrated to the point of throwing my bowl of uncooked chowder in the toilet. My son said “Wow – you are really pissed! C’mere Mom – let me give you a hug.” At that point I burst into tears and ran into my office to cry my heart out. I felt like an absolute idiot, literally crying over raw potatoes!

At that point, I recognized that I had reached my own personal critical breakdown point, and that I needed to regroup and re-balance myself before I set a health crisis in motion.

On the bright side, the sleep disorder thing explains some of the reason behind my overwhelming fatigue, brain fog, and inability to concentrate on anything for more than 5 minutes. Also – I am at a peak level of stress and fatigue, and by now, I probably would have seized – but no seizure so far…so that may mean my meds are actually working!

When the mind is on overload, it can grind to a halt and temporarily shut down, which mine had done. Once I recognized just how badly overwhelmed I had become, I could begin to make the changes necessary to regain my balance.

Tips to Re-Establish your Balance when your are Overwhelmed:

  1. Cry it out. Crying can be a great release – like the valve in a pressure cooker. Allow your tears to lessen the weight of the burdens you’ve been carrying. Accept that part of life as what it is and move past the tears to a new step.
  2. Laugh as much as you can! Seek out funny situations, happy people, or anything that makes you laugh. Watch comedy TV, or something that is light or mindlessly absorbing. Avoid any TV that could be potentially depressing or stressful. This is self-preservation and helping you to regulate your mood. (I avoid violent slasher movies!!)
  3. Give the mind a rest from the stress of everyday life for awhile. Take a “me” day, if you can. Shut off the phones, cell phones, computers. Tell your family & friends that you need some quiet time to reconnect with your inner peace. Light candles. Meditate. Do yoga. Sip your favorite tea or coffee wrapped in a blankie and read a trashy novel. Disconnect from the world. Turn your energy inward to help yourself.
  4. Surround yourself with positivity, especially when you don’t feel at all positive nor cheerful. Go to the mall and walk around, watching people enjoy themselves. Moods can be catchy!
  5. Exercise! Go after that endorphin release. Find an activity you like – swimming, running, walking, yoga, biking, dancing… the choice is yours. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is turn on your favorite tunes and boogie your way to a smile!
  6. Above all, be gentle with yourself! Focus on one thing at a time. Try not to to multitask. Simplify and stop for a moment. Just breathe. Be in the moment where you are, and know that this too shall pass.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that even personal balance has its ebbs and flows. Kinda like everything in nature, eh?

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Namaste y’all!

Carolyne

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