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Overwhelm: When you can’t escape your life, try mindfulness.

Updated: May 25, 2022

Article for Yoga Lunchbox

“Hello Overwhelm my old friend,

I’ve come to talk to you again,

Because a vision softly creeping,

Left its seeds while I was sleeping.”

I often break into song when I feel her coming again.


With her short breath, her pinched shoulders, her scratchy throat, her distracted conversations (“Mum, are you listening?”) her constant pull to the list, the bloody list, her tumble of thoughts, thinking thinking thinking, her creepy whispers of “That’s too hard, do that one later”, her drag from the present - I’m not here right now.

One of the hardest things with Overwhelm is knowing you need to stop. But you can’t stop because there’s so much to do. You think “I’ll just finish one more thing on the list and THEN I’ll take a break.” But then once it’s ticked off you actually can’t really relax because you keep thinking of ALL THE THINGS YOU STILL HAVE TO DO. There’s a number of To Do List hacks you can try but at the end of the day, there’s ALWAYS going to be Things To Do. Unless we run away to Raro (I actually did this once).

If you CAN'T escape your life (don’t get too jealous, the list was there when I returned) then what you CAN do is train your body and mind to relax. To not jump on the overwhelm train and steam full noise into a shit storm of tears, irritability and burnt dinners (oh? Just me?).

Having a daily meditation practice is cool. But if you don’t yet do this, it’s really hard to start one when you’re in the middle of overwhelm because you can’t stop thinking of ALL THE THINGS TO DO!

So I teach people to drop little moments of mindfulness into the day. 1 min while brushing your teeth, 2 mins while driving, even 30 seconds while on the loo god damn it.

It all adds up you see. It’s kind of like toilet training a puppy. You don’t just teach it once in the morning and then for the rest of the day let it shit all over the carpet.

No. You don’t.

You keep reminding, gently, showing, “This way puppy. This is how you do it”

This way, instead of having one more thing to remember to do, we can just BE mindful. Second nature. A habit of sorts. As natural as peas and corn together.

Being mindful may not always kill overwhelm in her tracks but it definitely helps to remain calmer and takes us to path of awareness.

I am now acutely aware of when overwhelm is jumping up and down like an excited puppy. Sit down.

Overwhelm and I, we’ve become friends over the years. I used to let her be the bossy one in the relationship (yes mam, all those things WILL get done today) and for a while there I ghosted her (I know you’re right there but I’m ignoring you. “seen”) and then once, we were enemies (Go away Bitch, you’ve ruined my life, and my mascara). But now – now we are friends. I’m aware when she is there and so I choose differently now.

Like today, when I had a deadline for this article, I wrote this email to the editors:

Hey Lucinda and Kara-Leah

Just letting you know with deep apologies that I won’t be able to write an article for the yoga lunchbox by the deadline.

I’ve felt overwhelm creeping in and I’m super aware now and deliberately choose to slow down instead of speed up.

There’s been heaps to do this week. I run a night class every Thursday which I need to plan (and write) each week, my memoir is about to be published and I’m actively promoting the Pledge Me campaign to raise the money needed for printing, I’m writing posts like there’s no tomorrow, I’m writing a work book to compliment my memoir, and I’m homeschooling my daughter every morning and seeing clients in the afternoons.