Daily Om Thursday + My Musings


Feeling Overwhelmed:
Breathing into Order

Always know, the Universe works in perfect order and you are never given more than you can handle. Sometimes we may feel like there is just too much we need to do. Feeling overwhelmed may make it seem like the universe is picking on us, but the opposite is true: we are only given what we can handle. Difficult situations are opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.

The best place to start is to take a deep breath. As you do, remind yourself that the universe works in perfect order and therefore you can get everything done that needs to get done. As you exhale, release all the details that you have no control over. The universe with it‘s infinite organizing power will orchestrate the right outcome. Anytime stress begins to creep up, remember to breathe through it with these thoughts.

Then, make a list of everything you need to do. Note what needs to be done first, and mark the things others may be able to do for you or with you. Though we often think no one else can do it correctly or well, there are times when it is worth it to exhale, let go of our control, and ask for help from professionals or friends. With the remaining things that feel you must do yourself, take another breath and determine their true importance. Sometimes they are things we’d like to do, but aren’t really necessary. After taking these quick steps, you will find you have a plan laid out, freeing you from frenzied thoughts circling in your head. With calming deep breaths, you are now free to focus more fully on our priorities. Herbal teas or flower remedies along with wise choices about caffeine and food can help keep us from becoming frantic too. But with nothing further from us than our breath, we can breathe in our best intentions and let the rest go with an exhale. Keeping ourselves centered and breathing into and through life’s challenges helps us learn what we are truly capable of doing, and we will find we have the ability to rise to any occasion. Remember you aren’t being picked on, and you are never alone. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

Who hasn’t been there? At first, the mental  “to do” list is manageable. Each day, you go to bed, satisfied with your accomplishments.

Then, out of the blue, a co-worker’s unanticipated absence leaves her work unceremoniously dumped in your lap. Of course, you are still expected to meet your own job duties. Next, at the last minute, your child’s teacher begs you to bake six dozen of your legendary chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale — the next day. On your way to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for those cookies, your car begins to make that sound, which you’ve ignored for weeks, Before you know it, you are stopped on the side of a busy freeway, in the middle of Summer. You wait, impatiently, for the wrecker service to arrive to tow your car to the repair shop, that is already closed for the day. Out of sheer frustration and helplessness, you think “Why me?,”  and lay your head on the steering wheel, fretting about your predicament. Overwhelmed, is a gross understatement.

Inevitably, most of us are faced with circumstances that bring us to the end of our rope. The best defense lies in being proactive, and preparing a plan to deal with these situations, before you need them. Of course, there are numerous ways to deal with stress that has engulfed us. The problem is that it is difficult to think clearly amid such circumstances; so, a contingency plan is advised.

It begins with putting together a “toolbox” of sorts, that will help you through these trying times. The idea is that it serves to reduce the inevitable physical, mental and emotional stress that goes hand-in-hand with those situations that overwhelm us. No two toolboxes are the same. The contents of your toolbox is subjective and is sure to differ from mine. To make it easy, you might ask yourself one or both of the following questions: “What brings me happiness? and/or What can I place in this box that, in the past, has relieved my stress level? The answers to the questions should provide some measure of comfort and relaxation, while reducing the stress caused by feeling overwhelmed.

With that said, your toolbox might include a favorite CD that soothes your soul or nudges you to get up and dance, a  favorite DVD, especially a comedy (My go-to CD is “My Cousin Vinnie.”), a book that, although you’ve read it scores of times, opening it makes you feel like the first, sitting in meditation, a DVD of your yoga session, a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe, snuggling with your loved ones or furry friends, a pick-up basketball game, a walk or hike in the park, praying, or laughing with friends. As you see, I could go on, but you get the picture. The idea is any activity that is sure to allow you to forget your worries for a while, so that you return feeling refreshed and prepared to tackle life, as is.

You get to choose what works for you. In fact, the very act of doing so, allows you to regain control over the seemingly uncontrollable. Also, choosing what belongs in your toolbox is the ultimate form of self-care. It will be readily at your disposal when the “overwhelm” gremlin drops by. What do they say in football? The best offense is a good defense. Your toolbox gives you the upper hand.


Surviving Christmas

Christmas in the post-War United StatesImage via Wikipedia

I am overwhelmed! There I said it. In spite of reading those nicely written articles on how to survive the holidays without stress,  my chronic pain condition is getting in the way of my Christmas preparations. My house is not clean, gifts are unwrapped, and everything is in general disarray, including me. On Christmas Day, my house, normally a relatively quiet abode for three, will be filled with 17 1/2  people, 5 1/2 of them children. (A manageable number for many, but for anyone with chronic pain or other illnesses, it may as well be 50.)  In my mind, I can already hear the cacophony of seventeen voices, Christmas music, the television, the Wii as the kids try out their newly gotten games, and the sound is deafening.

As a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday; even though I  was regularly short changed in the present department because my birthday happened to fall five days before Christmas.  It was the only day of the year that I did not remember that we were “poor” by most standards, because my Mom struggled to give us everything that we’d really wanted. After Christmas mass, all the family converged on our house to gather together to celebrate the day. Everyone was happy, laughing, joyful (probably because of those hi-balls)–and loud, but I’ve always treasured those days and longed to replicate them.

Christmas is still my favorite holiday and I can see now that my prayers have been answered. (Be careful what you wish for because you might get it.)  In three days,  I have the honor of hosting my family’s Christmas celebration. Yes, it will be stressful, but I can make it less so by remembering what is most important; that is, spending time with the family instead of rushing about trying to make everything perfect, an impossible feat before my illness, and more so now. The pain will be there, it always is, but this Christmas, it is not taking center stage. At this point, I’m just grateful that there won’t be 50 family members in attendance.  

Have a very happy and safe holiday. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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