I haven’t made it a secret on social media that I have been struggling to write blog posts lately. It seems like something that should be a task I could just let go, but the inability to bring myself to write is a symptom of deeper issues and causes me stress that I can’t let go. The stress comes from knowing that it is something I should be doing. From understanding that I committed to a task that I am not completing and it was a promise that I made to myself (which is the most important person I can make a promise to) and I am failing myself at my inability to complete said task. I also feel like I’m letting down mentors who have taught me to be strong in the face of being tired and feeling overwhelmed. I have a ball in my chest knowing that I am missing valuable reflection time and sharing with my fellow PLN, another commitment that I had made years ago. I can’t let it go that I am impacting my own thinking and learning as well as others. When I really start to spiral, I think, “What does my future hold when I can’t even write a simple blog post?” Then comes the “What is wrong with me” and the “Why can’t I be motivated like other people”. All this from a freaking blog post.
The deeper issue here is that I’m overwhelmed and I’m not going to go into all the things I have going on that are causing me to be overwhelmed because being busy is not a competition. Plus, I could have nothing going on and still feel it because the world is an overwhelming place right now. It should not be underestimated the toll that the pandemic has taken on people mentally, emotionally, and physically (hello, additional Covid 19lbs). Yesterday, I went to go into the post-office and nearly fell into tears as I realized I forgot my mask and Tom Hanks told me that only inconsiderate people don’t wear masks and the thought of being inconsiderate nearly pushed me over the edge.
The worst part is that for those of us who spiral about the future and everything we are not doing, we can’t even see the future right now. As in, we have no idea what the world will look like in two weeks. We use repetition, processes, and schedules as safety nets. Most of us don’t know how school is going to begin. We don’t know how our own kids are going back. We don’t know how our own schedules are going to look. And even if districts have a “plan”, most districts acknowledge that they may be back for two weeks before they need to go fully online. And if they’re not acknowledging that, well, then honestly they’re not planning well. Teachers are updating their wills to go back to school. Truly, we are living in unbelievable times. We have lost out safety nets and are crossing a tightrope 10 stores in the air. There is quite a bit of our overwhelm that we can contribute to our lack of feeling safe for multiple reasons, but a slippery grip on our future is definitely one of them.
Because I have been struggling with overwhelm lately, I have been emotional and I prefer to take on tasks that take little thinking. I have taken to playing a Cafe game on my phone. I have never been on to play games on my phone, but it is now a preferred activity. I feel exhausted. The other day I cried because “baby trees” were being taken out of my yard. I can’t stress the impact that true overwhelm can have. It is more than a passing feeling. More than a sudden temper tantrum, although those too can be a sign. I have written more about overwhelm and chronic stress here.
As part of my overwhelm I have taken to trying to meditate more, which I’m going to admit is an ongoing goal. I have improved so much at meditation that I can now mediate for up to 15 minutes. When I began, 30 seconds of sitting still was a struggle as I was bombarded with thoughts of all the things I could be accomplishing if I wasn’t just “sitting there.” As part of my study of meditation, I’ve found that there is an intention setting meditation that is called “Just For Today”. It is actually also one of the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous as well. The basic premise that you set intentions that begin with “Just for today…” By focusing on getting through one day, you may find yourself saying “Anyone could do this just for today, I can, too”. You may find yourself living more in the moment and taking focus away from what the future is going to hold. You may find the little accomplishments replenish your energy and fill your soul. One step to fighting overwhelm.
Just for today I will be patient with my children.
Just for today I will be kind to myself.
Just for today I will be considerate of my loved ones and of strangers.
Just for today I will smile even when I’m wearing a mask so people can see it in my eyes (something I learned from my daughter).
It’s not that you will only commit to doing these things for one day. It is that today you’re going to focus on doing these things. There is a difference. If you are like me and constantly future-think, this is going to be difficult. But, if you also understand that your constant future-focus with the state of the world right now is causing you anxiety, shifting your focus to the present may help you find that there is a welcome reprieve.
The second piece of this, however, is being okay with where you are and who you are in this day. It’s not enough to claim you’re going to do something just for today and then continue to live in the disappointment you may feel for what you’re doing or who you are. We all know that we have growing to do. We know that it’s possible that who we are right now in the midst of a pandemic and what feels like the world is falling apart may not be our best selves. However, wallowing in that isn’t going to help either and will only add to the chronic stress that we are feeling. So, be okay with who you are and what you are doing today. Whatever it is and whoever you are…trust that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be at this moment. Take a deep breath. Let go of the imagined stress that you’ve created in regards to your version of a “blog post”. People may judge. They may try to compete with everything you have going on. Let them. They’re not the ones determining your self-worth anyway.
Give yourself grace.— Mandy Froehlich (@froehlichm) July 16, 2020
Be kind to yourself and others.
Put energy into accomplishing something small.
Take a bath in Epson salt.
Hug your furbaby.
Undoing overwhelm isn't about pushing through it. It's about taking care of yourself so you can move forward. Go slow to go fast.