Proven ways to stop feeling like you’re spread too thin, doing all the things for all the people

Yeah, we all do it. Take on too much. Carry the world on our shoulders and then smile and say, ‘of course, I can do that for you, no problem!’

Forever adding more and more onto our plate while we’re still chewing the last big bite we took and unable to swallow, unable to breathe, wanting to scream…just me?

It’s how I’ve been feeling recently for sure. Juggling my work with remote house hunting, adding in buying a new car to the mix and desperately trying to find some calm moments for myself.

I just have too much going on and I’m going for my Covid Vaccination this week and part of me is like ‘Yay’ because the fear of catching Covid is immense and another part of me is ‘Yikes!’ because I don’t like the idea of a foreign substance that has been rushed through testing being pushed into my veins. But I’m getting my vax because the fear of Covid is greater than the worries about vax safety.

And so I had a bit of a melt down towards the end of last week and went MIA. Yes, I went missing, I hid out on the sofa watching Schitts Creek and avoiding dealing with things. And for four days I was lost in that downward spiral until today when I pulled myself out of my funk.

I realised the constant monitoring of property sites and car sales was overloading my nervous systems with anxiety. I am not only moving to a house I will not have seen beforehand except in pictures, I’m attempting to buy a car the same way and hope for the best in both scenarios. 

No wonder I started withdrawing and isolating from the world, it had all got just a bit too much to deal with.

But the one thing I have in my favour is I have the tools to deal with this. I know what I need to do to pull myself out of this downward spin into oblivion. And I started yesterday by taking Amelia to walk in a new woodland that was recommended to us and it was stunning.

It was like walking in a cathedral, the quiet, the sense of God, the spiritual and natural majesty of the place. When I got home, I gave myself one more day of funking about, whilst also doing little things to help me feel better. I cleared my desk of clutter, I packed a box of shoes, I did some psychological exercises to bring me to an even keel.

And yet, I still didn’t do the one thing I’d promised myself, to go to bed earlier and since my sleep has been off since I started this depressive episode, I really need to do that. And that’s okay. I will go to bed early tonight.

The most important thing to do with yourself when you’re in a funk is to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Don’t bully yourself, don’t do the old ‘pull yourself together’ schtick. Allow yourself the time you need to feel whatever’s going on but set a time limit to that.

I decided I would end my funk yesterday, that didn’t happen, I needed one more day. And that was it. Today I pulled myself up and out.

You can do so too. But more importantly is the daily discipline of looking after yourself so you don’t fall down too deep into that well that lurks in our psych. I had allowed that to fall by the wayside as I got caught up in the panic of house hunting, not finding anything suitable and giving those catastrophising thoughts that it wasn’t going to work out room to grow.

A thought is just a thought. The effect can be massive on our bodies, our feelings, our lives. But its just a thought.

And we can always choose to think a different thought, to choose something more beneficial.

That’s what I finally started doing this morning again. Choosing my ideal end result of living in a beautiful home in a beautiful place, with a fun, safe car for Amelia and I to travel home in.

Here are some simple ways for you to regain control when your mind has run away with its evil twin.

  1. Spend at least 10 minutes every day in nature. Simply go and sit in your back garden if that’s all you can manage, however you’ll really reap the benefits of 10 minutes in the woods, by a river or the sea, in the countryside or a park. Being in a green space can actually put your body into a state of meditation, thanks to a phenomenon known as “involuntary attention” during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection. I’m walking in nature for an hour every morning, it’s the best time of my day.
  2. Buy a house plant. Houseplants aren’t just beautiful air purifiers — they can actually help you calm down. Researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relaxation response. One Washington State University study found that a group of stressed-out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure. My house is filled with plants and I spend hours in my garden, which I find so healing and soothing.
  3. This one is so key, don’t fight me on this one and Step Away From The Screen. Uninterrupted computer use has been proven to add to stress, lost sleep and depression. In the same study, late night computer use was also associated with stress. Make sure to take frequent breaks away from your day of computer use — and shut offline at least an hour before bedtime. I do still have difficulty with this one and started setting an alarm, so every hour, I get up stretch and walk around before resuming my work.
  4. In the same vein, Hang Up, Then Turn Off Your Phone .Cell phones stress you out, there’s no question about that. Simply Talking on them can raise your blood pressure. These are stress causing monsters that seem to have taken over control of most of the population. Say ‘no more ‘and take back control of your life and health by having no phone hours and no phone evenings. Luckily once I left corporate, I found switching off the mobile to be easy and liberating.
  5. Put On Some Music .classical music has a particularly soothing effect — it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and even decreases levels of stress hormones — and any music that you love will flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine. And while music can soothe everyday anxiety, research shows that it’s particularly beneficial for those in the midst of stressful events. And if you don’t have your headphones handy? Try humming. One study found that making your own music relieved stress and prevented burnout.
  6. Laugh long and loud. A good laugh is a fine relaxation technique. “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain,” Counterintuitively, laughter first activates your stress response and then deactivates it, creating a kind of “rollercoaster” that leads to a feeling of relaxation. Even if you don’t find something to be that funny, just thinking that it might be funny will actually boost endorphins. Youtube your favourite comedian and try new ones too, I love trying out new comedy.
  7. Learn Progressive Muscle Relaxation Start with your toes and work your way up your body: tighten your foot muscles as much as you can, and then relax them. Make your way up, tightening and relaxing each muscle until you finish with your face. It may feel silly, but this practice can help reduce anxiety and stress and is often recommended to cardiothoracic patients.
  8. Make something with your hands. Studies have found that in the Repetitive motions used to crochet or knit, using those fine motor skills over and over can soothe anxiety. It’s a lot like meditation in the repetition of a sound, word, phrase, or movement, and the passive setting aside of intruding thoughts and returning to the repetition.” However many practical hobbies such as woodwork, mosaic making, even some repetitive chores like wood chopping or ironing offer the same physical and mental rewards and you get the bonus of doing something useful or making something.
  9. Seriously, Turn Off Your Phone Smartphones, in particular, are linked to increased stress, as more and more people feel pressure to respond to messages at all times, day or night. Stop scrolling on Social Media and don’t get into arguments online. Nothing you say will ever change anyone’s minds so just stop getting stuck in.
  10. Eat A Banana. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, which rises during times of stress. Some people find that eating a banana when they’re feeling stressed can help improve energy and recovery. And research shows that it can protect your body from the negative effects of stress, like increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Psychological Association recommends it to stave off the physical detriments of stress as well.

And one big daily habit I’ve re-adopted is 20 mins daily focused rest and relaxation, meditation by another name, which was a core part of my life .There’s so much research into how well this works in releasing stress from our minds and bodies that I could spend hours reciting it all. I’m rejoining my meditation practice because meditation should not optional, it is a must do part of our daily regime.

It’s the most rigorously scientifically studied and verified method of reducing stress in our bodies and keeping stress levels low.

So do it. Meditation is a must to regain clarity, joy and peace of mind. And send your mind’s evil twin back into the darkness it came from.

Well, not really, we’re bringing the evil twin into the light. That’s a better way of looking at it. Right?

We bring ourselves, mind, body and soul into the peace and lightness of being that meditation and managed stress levels gifts us with.

Take care of yourself first. Its the only way to get through the days right now. Find peace and then share it with the world.


Cynthia xx

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