It’s been very busy in my world the last few months! Spring arrived in the form of increased projects and activity. The last few weeks I've juggled editing projects, with teaching The Awaken Weekend, private coaching, voice-over auditions, and this weekend I'll be heading to the Lightning In a Bottle festival to teach a workshop.
I enjoy being able to do so many things, each of them is a part of the way I share myself and my gifts. And it all requires energy, focus, and time to do well. There are a few specific things I now practice during busy clips like this that help what once felt like overwhelm, feel more like abundance, because of shifts I make in mindset and body.
If your plate has been full too, and it has you a little overwhelmed... I wanted to share how I've been transforming overwhelm into abundance with a few small shifts:
1) STOP AND BREATHE OFTEN
Anytime I feel overwhelmed or stressed the quality of my breath is the first thing to suffer. Shallow breath is a normal stress reaction. So deepening the breath is one of the quickest ways to begin relaxing the body. I check my breath throughout the day and when I find it shallow (stopping in my upper chest), I take at least 3 conscious deep breaths into my belly, with an equally long inhale and exhale. My belly swelling outward like a ballon when I inhale and my navel moves in toward my spine on the exhale. I do this several times a day because shallow breathing is what most of us default to when we're not paying attention.
2) FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
I used to pride myself on being the queen of multitasking. I was always looking for ways to overlap activities to get the most out of my day. Returning phone calls while driving, checking email while eating, catching up on my entertainment while exercising.... But once I realized what splitting my focus was doing to me, I started putting this habit to bed. Being fully present with one thing at a time, allows it to become more of a meditation than an activity that's pulling me away from myself. When my focus is split, my being is split. I literally feel pulled in different directions, fragmented. That creates stress and a feeling of overwhelm. When I can pay attention to the sensations in my body while I am focused on one thing. I am now in relationship to the thing I’m doing and to my body. Which creates a feeling of presence, and unified action.
3) PHYSICAL FLUIDITY
This one is less obvious, and has been a process of discovery as movement and breath have become more central in my life. Fluidity is both a physical and mental practice. On the physical side it looks like two things micro-movements and drinking water. Our bodies are more than 80% fluids. So maintaining fluidity in the body, is an important part of functioning at our best. The guideline I was given about water is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Preferably filtered or spring water, so you get the minerals needed as well. I keep a water bottle with me throughout the day and re-fill it to meet my daily requirement.
The other layer is micro-movement throughout the day. Working at a computer, it is so easy to get stuck in positions that are often bad for our bodies. Craning our necks to look down at screens, slumping shoulders, collapsing the belly... all creating the conditions for shallow breathing. These small posture 'faux pas' contribute greatly to energy getting blocked in our bodies. In Eastern medicine there is an acknowledgement of meridians(pathways) through the body that allow chi or prana (life-force energy) to flow between our heads and our feet. When our alignment is compromised because of poor posture or simply not placing our awareness inwardly, life-force energy can't flow as well to vital organs and other parts of our systems. This compromises all of our systems, reducing our energy, digestion, circulation, or other vital functions. So now I bring conscious movement and alignment into my days. For me this looks like slow small circles with my shoulders, rolling my neck, rolling my pelvis and low back, even rolling my ankles and feet in circles. This helps break up any rigid holding in my body and gets energy flowing more freely. And if I'm sitting for long periods of time, I will get up at least every hour to walk somewhere before returning to my desk. During this walk, I will concentrate on feeling my feet on the ground, and the connection between my feet and my heart.
4) MENTAL FLUIDITY
The mental layer of fluidity, has to do with not letting my thoughts get stuck in its favorite stories. We all tell ourselves stories about who we are, who other people are, about what's happening in our lives. It's hard to stop these thoughts from arising, but we do have choice in getting stuck in or attached to them. I find a lot of my stress comes from the stories I tell myself about what I have to do. If I see my tasks as hard, if I worry about how I'm gonna get everything done, if I complain about having too much to do, my stress sky rockets! So when I catch myself complaining, I look at what I need to give myself to bring some peace & space into the moment. Is it a breath, is it some movement, a drink of water, a mental re-frame? Do I need to reaffirm trusting myself or the higher order of things with a mantra or prayer? Our thoughts are fluid, they come and go... And with awareness we can shift stress-inducing, energy draining thoughts, into something more nourishing.
5) SAY THANK YOU
My favorite mantra to shift overwhelm to abundance is THANK YOU. These two simple words are incredibly powerful! Even if I'm not quite sure how something is serving my good in the moment, it is an affirmation that all things are happening for me. And that mindset in and of itself does lead to all things serving me in some way. The truth is all the activity on my plate is stuff I have asked for, they are ways I share myself, discover more of myself, and serve others. So even if something isn't going my way in a particular moment, I know it's temporary and its part of an overall flow that is nourishing and sustaining me. And when something doesn't seem to be serving me, it's usually information about what needs to change so that I am more aligned with a nourishing way of being… so I say thank you often!
Life moves in cycles, and learning to ride these cycles with in tune with our beings, keeps us connected to the what’s most true and important. I hope you’ll try some of these on in your day, and share with me what you notice. Post a comment and let me know how you take care of yourself during busy times, I’m always looking for new inspiration. And if you know anyone experiencing overwhelm who would benefit from this tips, please share this with them.