It happens to everyone no matter how many hours we have in a week, how supportive our families are or how great we are at delegating. Everyone. No one has there shit together all the time no matter how much they pretend that they do.
But when you are living with a chronic illness it adds ‘another thing’ to take care of, or not, depending how you are managing things. And if the latter is more your style then feeling overwhelmed soon follows. Not just the extra stuff it adds to your day but the emotional and mental energy that it takes to think about and manage.
I am much better at putting the steps into practice to calm overwhelm before it takes hold, but that has not always been the case.
When I was working as a teacher, or as a young mum it felt like it was part of me every single day. Like I was balancing on the edge of a cliff the smallest thing going to push me over the edge.
For me this was closely related to wanting to be all things to all people. A people pleaser and a perfectionist neatly rolled into one, I was also in denial slightly about my diagnoses’ and trying hard not let anyone see the cracks underneath the surface.
I wanted to be the best mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, support to everyone else… to hide from the fact that I really needed that support.
I proudly put on my superwoman cloak every single day, but the weight of that cloak wore heavy. My symptoms got worse, life got harder and I was NOT serving myself. I felt tired, overwhelmed and out of my depth very often.
It’s different now. Because I have learnt the steps to recognise overwhelm and have a first aid process at the ready.
These steps are designed to take you from meltdown to calm and connected. Next time overwhelm strikes, take a deep breath and work through this list. You will be back to feeling calm and in control before you know it.
Overwhelm first aid kit
8 Steps to get you feeling calm and in control
Take a walk, grab a cuppa whatever works for you but just stop and calm.
Know that it’s OK. With everything that’s going on right now it’s perfectly normal to feel this way.
2.Get It All Out
Do a big brain dump on a piece of paper, or in your favourite journal.
Get it all out. Everything that is on your mind, the stuff, the conversations, the concerns. Big and small.
The breathe again. Feels better already, right?
3.Time to Ditch and Delegate
Now take the roll of your best friend or someone who cares about you. It’s time to cross some things straight off of your list, to make space for you to plan and refocus, let’s ditch:
- Everything on your list that is out of your control.
- Not urgent
- It will never get done anyway
Now write a new list, its time to go through it and see where you could ask for help. Put your best friend head on again when you do this, remember if the boot was on the other foot and someone asked you for help would you do it? it’s probably a yes right?
- If everyone I asked would say YES what would I hand over?
- If they could do it NEARLY as well as me what would I delegate?
- What would free up time if I passed over now?
Now actually ask for the help. Make the call, send the email.
And breathe again.
It’s time to really asses what needs your attention right now. When you are caught up feeling overwhelmed it’s hard to see the big picture. Sit back, take a breath and ask yourself:
What deserves my attention right now?
Where should I be focussing my energy?
What is important in my life?
Now you have worked out what is actually important to you it’s time to be ruthless. What’s left on your list may need to get done but some of it will be more important than others. Sometimes looking at it all laid out can be overwhelming so we are going to prioritise.
A – ABSOLOUTELY It absolutely must get done today
B – BE NICE It would be nice if this got done today, but tomorrow is another day.
C – COULD HAPPEN Could happen, today, tomorrow, the next day – no pressure.
6.Take Time For You
The most important thing, most often overlooked.
Don’t just dive into doing the stuff. What ever you need to do. Get some space, you will be more able to deal with everything when you return.
Grab another cuppa, go for a walk, phone your bestie, binge on Netflix. Whatever works for you.
7.Tackle your list
Take a look at your list. If there are no A’s on your list, amazing… have a rest It is is THE BEST thing that you can do for your body when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Then start with your A’s, work your way through your list on small thing at a time. With plenty of rest built in. It is really important to find the thing that refuels you and build it in to your days. This will sustain you way into the future.
Another step that is usually skipped.
That may be doing cartwheels in the garden (now I’m jealous if you really can do this), a mini break with your hubby, dinner at your favourite restaurant, a walk in the fresh air.
Reward yourself, you’ve got this!
What Do you find is the hardest thing when you are feeling overwhelmed? Does dealing with your chronic condition add another thing to your plate?
Let me know in the comments.
CHRONICALLY EMPOWERED WOMEN
The Chronically Empowered Women Facebook Group is a community for women with long term, chronic illness or disability.
It is a space to be you, to be honest that you want more than this, to be honest about not knowing how to start. A place where we can lift each other up and support each other. Where you can share your story and where we can inspire each other with our wins. It’s about understanding that life can be tough but also that we can do hard things. About recognising your own unique superpowers!
Each week we talk live about a different chronic illness topic in CHRONIC CONNECTION.
I’m super proud of our community… come and join us.