Signs, symptoms and Guidance
To be overwhelmed means that the ‘fire’ or the ‘wave’ has already caught us and we find ourselves in a state of ‘being engulfed’. We have reached the limit of our capacity, a threshold(s) has been surpassed and ‘it’ (pressure, demand, responsibility etc.) exceeds our capacity. We crash, we suffer from burnout, we get sick, we conk in. We are unable to hold, to carry, to be productive with our load. We are forced to ‘put down’ and ‘walk away’ -when we are lucky, ‘be carried away’ – in some instances, forced to walk away and in some instances even instructed to ‘bed away’ for a certain amount of time.
Understanding Being Overwhelmed
Somehow we missed, were unable to notice, or perhaps we were able to notice little signs, symptoms of being overwhelmed but we could not, or we chose not to, do something about it.
Most people, especially those under a lot of constant pressure, go through periods where they experience ‘being overwhelmed’. This is another reason why authentic, strong relationships are so important, it is during these times when those close to you need to step in and take over and, even better, to notice that you are starting to show symptoms of ‘overwhelment’ and support, persuade you try to make you see the reason to step out before severe levels are reached.
Before we explore ‘being overwhelmed’ further if you are in a state of ‘overwhelment’ right now – get rid of the judgement, (your own and that of others), get rid of the defeatist commentary, telling you what you are and what not, how you should have acted or not.
I am overwhelmed.
I am emotionally flooded.
I am mentally exhausted.
I am physically drained.
I am depleted.
Right now, I have no resources and right now, I cannot think; not even for myself.
I feel disconnected.
I feel disorientated.
At times I question my sanity.
The above is very difficult and even impossible if there are any ingredients of: Denial, fear, anxiety that things will fall to pieces when you walk away, ambitious obsession, greed for instantaneous solutions/breakthroughs, serious doubt in competency (self and/or others), big ego, big financial stresses, and imminent deadlines….
The above is much more easily achievable when some of the following ingredients are in place: Acceptance, compassion for self and others, trust, hope, knowing that you will recover, trusting in your long-term ability and capabilities and those of others.
To be calm has to be ‘king’ and through calmness an open conversation with your ‘inner circle’ to help you design ‘time-out’. A little line through the diary, ‘I am taking time out’.
Let us not kid ourselves, it is not easy to ‘relax’ when levels of overwhelment are present, never mind ‘being in the state of overwhelment – in fact it is next to impossible. If there is any possibility for you to change geography, do. Get on a train, get on a flight – get some physical distance. Even if you go for a walk, however not close to work/home – in a different place. Just get away, switch your phone off, decide whether you need to be alone or with some-one. Don’t do anything else for now but get distance.