stressed and overwhelmed? how to stop feeling that way
June 26, 2013
Life Coaching Tools for Stress and Overwhelm
No matter how varied my life coaching clients are, wherever in the world they come from, or whatever their background, at some point in our work together we’ll come to this point.
“I feel overwhelmed and stressed.”
Life has gone haywire, the cow crap has hit the fan, and there’s so many things on the to-do list that the end is well, never-ending. Peace and calm has gone awol, and so has energy. And joy? Buried.
The Cantering Horse
So I begin by letting them talk it out. What’s going on? What’s happening? I listen. They race. It’s a bit like watching a just-corralled wild horse speed-run around and around it’s enclosure.
You might think that the best thing to do for the horse is to try and step in and calm it down. Wrong. It needs to get tired of running first. And it will, eventually. So let it run.
Eventually they take a pause. And then another one. And soon they’re plain ol’ worn out. Done. Tired of focusing on what’s stressing them out. This is good.
Now we can go deeper.
Me: What’s not ok about feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
Them: It gets in the way of me getting the things done that I want and have to do.
Here’s the thing. This is a thought. It’s a string of words formed together by an anxious amygdala/aka lizard brain. Is it true? And most of all, does believing it make you less or more stressed?
Every single person I ask this of says that believing this thought makes them tense. They get tightness in their body, feel short of breath, and low on energy. They feel worried, even angry. They feel more stressed.
In other words, it’s the resistance to the way they feel that causes the stress. The thought that feeling this way is a bad thing and that it’s undermining what they want to do causes the stress.
So what’s they key to feeling less overwhelmed and less stressed?
Try the ABCs of peace and happiness
1. Accept that you feel that way.
2. Let it be there.
3. Get curious about where the feeling-state lives in your body.
Once you’ve accepted, let it be there, and gotten curious about where that feeling-state is making a home in your body, you’re well on your way. Because you’re no longer resisting it and making it the focus of your energy and thoughts. As soon as you decide to let stress and overwhelm be there, and get curious rather than resistant, you win.
You’re no longer battling against something. You’re flowing around it.
And you’re no longer up against a wall. You’re diving into an ocean.
In fact, you’re going beneath the waves, and into the depth of peace.
You’re the ocean. The feeling-state is a wave on your surface.
Want it to pass? Dive in.