The Cure for "The Overwhelmed."
This is a time of year when the overwhelmed can take over. I have a simple solution. . .
When I'm feeling overwhelmed, its usually because I'm thinking about what I should be doing or could be doing. I'm not thinking about what I AM doing. Catching myself thinking about what I'm not doing is the beginning of the solution. Once I have caught myself in the future or the past, I am attending to what I'm doing, because that's what I'm doing.
The next step is to bring my attention back to the moment I am in. Maybe I think I'm not doing anything in this moment, and that's what set me off in the first place. The thing is, I can't be doing nothing. I am always breathing. So the next thing to do is to bring my attention back to my breath.
Now I can attend to how I am breathing. When I'm overwhelmed my breathing is usually shallow. There I lots of neurological research out there about why that is a bad idea, but I wont get into that now. A few slow intentional breaths brings me back to what I am doing and where I am: In this moment.
From here, I go onto the next step. Deciding what to do now. Doing the next right thing is all I have to do, and all we can ever do. Research also tells us that we never truly multitask. We are always doing one thing, and one thing only. By bringing my attention back to this, I can more fully engage in what I am actually doing. For me this makes it less likely that I'll mess us what I'm doing and have to do it again. Now my attention is on what I can control, my current actions, and not on what I might do later or should have already done. My breath focuses me on now and here, and, for this moment, the overwhelmed looses its grip.