There are many issues that arise from being overwhelmed.
You might feel like there is no light in the tunnel you find yourself in. There is no exit door to the cluttered room. There isn’t even a “phone-a-friend option” for getting support. Your sense of direction is skewed, and you alternate between trying to hear a message through the mental noise and covering your ears to avoid any sounds. Overwhelm is a difficult state, and when you are in that place, it feels as though it might not ever end. And you look around, and you don’t see anything that you think doesn’t need to be fixed or improved.
Overwhelmed is a complicated feeling that covers everything.
Things begin to get lost in the sense of overwhelming. Vital things like priorities come into question, and you might start to feel like you are only surviving from day to day. Rather than starting with the smallest things, we find ourselves grasping the most considerable things to find our way out of overwhelming; we imagine that it will all just go away. Or maybe it won’t, but we will suddenly become stronger - somehow. In this year of ‘unprecedented challenges,’ many of us have found ourselves in the space of overwhelm. As the holiday season approaches, considering the thought of adding one more thing to our overwhelming world sounds more like a tortious act fraught with frustration than a celebration of happiness, joy, and gratitude.
Perhaps it is time to remember: Overwhelm is vast; gratitude is simple.
As you look around or within and see all that activity and demand that surrounds you, it’s easy to miss the small and simple solutions that are there too. I’m not talking about being in denial or repressing anxiety or sadness because those are typical symptoms of being overwhelmed. As parents, we often think we can’t address our negative feelings because there are too many things that fall apart when we focus too much on ourselves. Instead, we look for comprehensive and broad solutions to rescue us or swallow hard and endure the pain. Talk about complicated! I relate this to mold growing in the refrigerator and dealing with it by buying a new one or pushing that container to the back.
The simplest solution is to see the source of the mold and take care of it.
Gratitude is that simple solution that clears away the clutter of overwhelm.
In that tunnel without light or that room without an escape, it’s normal to find your scope widened, looking everywhere for an answer. We will overlook what we are grateful for in these times, as gratitude doesn’t sound like it holds the key to anything. It sounds like an impossible thing to have when you feel anything but grateful for where you are. That’s okay, don’t be thankful for the overwhelming stuff around you. I’m not. But what I am asking you to do is shift your focus. To narrow your focus. To look for what is in there that you can be grateful for. To bring it out into the center of your chaos, and let it shine a little light in that dark tunnel.
Everyone needs help with this sometimes, and that’s why we are providing you with some tools.
This month, on our Facebook page, we are giving you 28 days of Gratitude ideas. It’s just a small lifeline that you can reach out to that asks you to narrow your focus to only one thing. One thing that makes you feel thankful. One thing that makes you smile. One simple thing in all the vastness of overwhelming days.
One of my favorite mentors, and perhaps yours, is Brene Brown. She shared this quote recently when talking about the benefits of gratitude: “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” When you can’t find your gratitude, stop chasing, and start focusing on the simple things. The overwhelming feelings will dissipate, and a little calm will find a way to sink in.
Joy is originally from the Central Valley of California, where she was raised on a farm and discovered her love for growing things. As the mother of a blended family of 7 adults and the grandmother of 9, she's learned many lessons about supporting the growth of people.