A holistic guide to troubleshooting your overwhelm
In this blog post, I offer a holistic perspective on where overwhelm comes from, how it affects you and how you can feel better.
Oh overwhelm! It’s one of those human states of being that just feels awful.
Plus, it leads to paralysis in decision making, low self-confidence and getting stuck in a pattern that holds you back.
However, like so many things in the age of COVID, overwhelm is also an invitation to take a closer look at yourself. If overwhelm is a “strategy” that you’re using to cope right now, then it was probably already in your tool box. And by taking the time to troubleshoot overwhelm, you can learn how to manage and prevent it, which will serve you for the rest of your life.
As an Ayurvedic Health Counselor (trained in the traditional medicine from India) and a life coach, I find it helpful to think about overwhelm in terms of the body, emotions and the mind. This enables you to focus down on a specific area instead of trying to solve everything at once (which can create more overwhelm). By working to nourish each aspect one at a time, you’ll be creating a foundation for long term ease.
Today, we’re going to focus on the body.
Understanding overwhelm via the body
The 5 senses
Your body takes in information from the world via your 5 senses:
For your senses to be able to efficiently digest input and operate optimally, the input should be balanced.
Not too little and not too much.
Just like if you put too much stuff down the garbage disposal and it struggles to do its job, the same type of thing happens with the senses.
For example, with the sense of sight, i.e. visual impressions, we consume massive amounts of information each day, mostly on screens. Our eyes overwork and the mind can’t fully digest everything, especially if you’re stressed out or in a bit of a panic.
The same is true for your hearing. If you listen to too much input (news, podcasts, loud sounds) you can overstimulate your system.
To compensate for over-stimulation, your body tries to adapt. It uses its precious energy resources to regulate, which taxes the system and never actually solves the problem.
Your nervous system
The 5 senses make up part of your nervous system, which is something we talk a lot about in yoga – “down regulating the nervous system”.
What does this mean?
Basically, that your nervous system has received more stimulation than it can efficiently process, which produces STRESS.
Stimulation = stress.
This may or not be a problem, depending on your current state.
If you’re in a state of resilience, then you can adapt to the stress.
If you’re not, then…. the stress builds up and overwhelm sets in.
Resilience, aka ojas
Ojas (pronounced “oh-jus”) is a rich concept in Ayurveda that translates roughly to “life force”. It results from the proper digestion of food, sensory impressions, cellular metabolism and many other processes in the body.
When your ojas is low, the ability for your senses to digest input decreases. And the more you keep feeding your senses, the more you aggravate the situation.
As you can imagine, low ojas leads to low resilience and low adaptability to stress which increases overwhelm.
Signs of low ojas
- Easily overwhelmed and stressed out
- Low energy
- Insomnia, too much sleep or poor sleep quality
- Can’t make it through the afternoon without coffee
- Digestive complaints
- Excess weight
- Emotionally reactive or flat
- Doing the bare minimum in life
Let’s take this information and put it to use, shall we? Here are a few questions to help you troubleshoot your overwhelm.
- Are you feeding your senses a diet of balanced input? How do you know?
- Is your nervous system in state of overstimulation? How do you know?
- Do you have low ojas? What are the signs?
Solutions to feel better
- Reduce input:
- Be thoughtful about the quality of input you feed your senses. Choose based on how you want to feel, not necessarily on how you feel in the moment.
- Do less. Watch less. Listen to less.
- Nourish the senses with beautiful input or therapies.
- Use ear plugs, an eye pillow, darken the room
- Calm the nervous system
- Dedicate yourself to a consistent low-stimulation practice like yoga, meditation or qigong
- Do a daily self-massage with organic oil (this is incredibly effective)
- Reduce caffeine and increase calming beverages, foods and herbs
- Check out more tips in this short blog post on balancing low ojas
Most importantly, make at least ONE of these suggestions part of your day-to-day.
When you make consistent efforts to reduce overwhelm, the effect compounds over time. You can’t transform overnight when you’re in the thick of things but you absolutely can transform your life, when you stay committed.
The more you take care of yourself, the more rewards you’ll reap.
Stay tuned for future blog posts on troubleshooting overwhelm in the emotions AND in the mind. There’s some powerful stuff yet to come!
If you’re ready to stop the pattern of overwhelm in your life and start feeling empowered again, holistic life coaching can help you get there. Sign up for a free consultation to experience coaching and learn more.