Survive the Overwhelming

We are now almost three months into the COVID-19 pandemic

In 24 hours our entire lives changed.

The news of death and illness consumed our screens, social media and the news.

We had to set up offices in our homes, closets, bedrooms and garages to get work done.

Kids are home all day learning online and trying to understand why they are feeling so isolated because they cannot see their friends. Snapchat and TikTok are just not doing it during these days.

The number of suicides are on the rise.

People are suffering from depression and anxiety at an all time high level.

Our public health system is not equipped to handle this due to lack of funding.

Parents are now teachers.

People cannot see their loved ones in nursing homes, hospitals and special care facilities.

Words like quarantine, face masks, and PPE are something we now talk about everyday.

Businesses had to flip their business model overnight to survive. That is like being Barnes and Noble one day and Amazon the next day.

We made hard decisions and had polarizing conversations. And yet sweeping changes continue to force us to comply with things we don’t want to do.

Industries have been ruined, some have been created and jobs have been lost.

And then, our world turned upside down again with George Floyd’s death, the riots, the looting and more death and destruction of our cities.

In my 53 years of life, I have never seen anything like this. I am a positive person and am always looking for the silver lining but this seems crazy to me. As a health and life coach, I wanted to provide some strategies for living in a state of overwhelm.

Overwhelm is a place where the stress level has gone past what we can handle as a human being. Our brains overwhelmed turn to fight, flight or freeze. We do not function at 100% when overwhelmed. We do not properly digest food in overwhelm because our bodies are preparing for an attack. We are living on high alert at all times. Stress hormones like cortisol are pumping through our bodies. While this is OK for a short period of time, it can have devastating impacts to our body and our health if we cannot calm the overwhelm.

These are troubled times we are living in, and we have to be able to process our fears about what is happening in our lives. This is not the time to “stuff” how you feel. If you are a stuffer you will suffer from headaches and stomach aches.

My mentor Tony Robbins has a saying. Life happens to you not for you. How do you approach life? The gist of this saying is that there are gifts in everything if you are willing to seek them. Every day when you wake up, ask yourself, where are the gifts for me today?

So, what can you do to help with the overwhelm? Here are a few strategies that I have found helpful and I hope that you will find them useful in your life.

Breathe

Breathing in a 5-7-5 pattern can immediately lower your stress levels. Breath in to the count of 5, hold for 7, and breath out to 5. Do this 3-4 times in a row.

Listen

The saying “God gave us two ears and one mouth” is so true right now. Remember to listen so that you really understand what the other person is saying to you. We all just want to be heard.

Flow

In this constant state of change, the more you can live in “flow” the less stress you will have. If you resist the change, your body will react with fight or flight.

Laugh

This was an assignment from my personal coach. He gave me an assignment to laugh every day. Not just ha, ha, funny laugh but true belly laughing. Laughing releases feel good hormones and can immediately reduce stress. Watch a funny movie, or bloopers or my personal favorite, funny animal videos.

Walk

Going outside and walking for 20 minutes has so many health and wellness benefits. Getting fresh air, sunlight and moving your body will shift your state from stress to relaxed. I recommend listening to music or just the sounds of nature.

Pet a Dog

Did you know that owning a dog actually increases your lifespan by 10 years? Maybe doctors should be providing prescriptions for this instead of medication? Petting a dog or cat will significantly lower your stress level. They provide unconditional love and will always be there to listen to you.

Hug

I know we are supposed to social distance, but find someone in your family who will hug you for 2 minutes chest to chest. When you hug for an extended period of time it creates an emotional connection and this connection can calm our stress.

Walk in their shoes

This time more than ever it is important to take a step back and walk in someone else’s shoes before you make a judgment. Today more than ever we have to try and understand the trauma others have endured. I call it a lens. Put a different pair of glasses on and really look at the other’s situation. Approach it with curiosity and love, not judgment.

Clear the Clutter

I have said this before and I will say it again. Clutter creates stress. Take 15 minutes each day to clear your clutter from your house before bed. Take a 5 minute break during the day and clean out a drawer. Now that Goodwill and SonBridge are open, you can get rid of what is no longer serving you.

Stay Positive

We are strong and capable humans and we will overcome this. Try and stay in a positive state of mind. Gratitude is the best way I know to do this. Play the gratitude game each night with your family and friends or randomly text people things that you are grateful for about them. We can change the world one positive thought at a time.

Heidi M. Wells is a certified life and health coach. She can be reached by calling 509-301-3477 or by emailing heidi@heidimwells.com.