A Reminder for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

How are you holding up? We’re post-Covid but not post-chaos.

In full transparency, my answer usually depends on what day someone asks me, whether or not it’s sunny, and how I’m holding my pen. In other words, everything completely shifts hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. And at times, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Tuesday I was on top of the world — I had been able to work efficiently out on the back patio, get a ton done, and have time for a little yard work when I was done.

Wednesday felt like it blew up in my face and I never really recovered. I was constantly overwhelmed, felt tired and cranky and didn’t want to do anything.

But then last night I went out front and got my hands in the dirt. I cut some daisies and put them in a jaunty green vase. I watered a few plants. Cut some lavender. And pulled out some mounding ground cover so my Yucca plants could breathe. And suddenly I realized I was happy.  

Happiness Is Possible, Even In the Chaos

It felt like a shiny jewel as it shimmered in my awareness. I felt lighter. Despite the moodiness and frustration and insane expectations of the day, in that moment, the mess all fell away into a vast hopefulness. I almost felt silly to have wasted emotional energy on it. 

My front lawn is overgrown but I don’t want to cut it yet because the bees are loving the clover. And I’m loving the bees. So much so that I spent at least 30 minutes sitting on my sun-warmed step, watching the sun go down as they bounced from clover to clover. I didn’t have my phone. Didn’t read my kindle. Didn’t listen to anything but the birds. My soul needed the space. I needed to see that this very small part of the world was doing okay. That there was life and normalcy. 

Cutting Lavendar and pulling weeds brings me joy

Lean Into Nature When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

This summer, I’m finding that nature provides this gift of space and reality for me. The weeding doesn’t feel like work. Removing sod makes my heart sing even though it ruins my nails. To see plants pushing upward, to find a curling worm wriggling through dirt, and to hear the birds twitter and sing from fencepost to arborvite to cedar tree to my giant maple  — it’s like a symphony. 

I think part of it is the way that the natural world continues on, even though everything else around us is endless shifting. The world is in dizzying chaos. Yet it’s not. The breeze still blows. The sunlight still sparkles through the trees. The day turns to night and turns to day again. The moon is still waxing and waning.

These days I’m choosing to focus on these beautiful things that are steady and constant. I’m grounded. Nature has become a safe place. My trees are planted solidly in the ground and give shade when it’s sunny. They flex in the wind. And the millions of creatures in my yard — from ants to spiders to raccoons to my own three little puppies — are carrying on. 

Puppies enjoying nature — in the yard

So if you’re working hard and can’t seem to find a space to rest, I see you. And if you’re part of the women business owner crew, remember this: slowing down can help. Pausing is okay. Take 30 minutes to just sit and breathe and observe — electronics free. Let the trees and the grass and the flowers be your social support. She can help reduce your stress.

Get the thoughts out of your head and let the ground soak up any negative emotions. Let it support your in stressful moments. Allow any overwhelming thoughts flow out of your head as easily as the dandelion fluff takes off in the wind.

Give yourself permission to get out in nature. Observe her in her full beauty. And take your cues from her. She has her own set of coping strategies. But always, she’s resilient and slow and steady and sure.



Please Know This:

It’s good to talk to a mental health professional. (How we all could do better in life if we did this regularly!) They can help you manage your anxiety, support your physical health, any physical symptoms, help you set boundaries and deal with negative thoughts. And they’re absolutely the best for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll ALL about that! And best yet, many now offer online therapy. 

Take a Deep Breath, Everything Will Be Okay in the End

If you’re like me, you hold your breath often.

I catch myself at it, shoulders raised, barely breathing. In a scary movie scene. When I’m in pain. When emotions take the upper hand and I’m trying not to cry. When I hold a newborn or cuddle a puppy. I take a deep breath in, but then the breath stops. 

These past weeks, I’ve been holding my breath a lot lately. Sometimes for reasons that are obvious to me (fatigue, kids moving out to follow their dreams), but other times for reasons I can’t quite grasp — the frozen dew on the clover out front. The moon glinting through the trees, full and bright. The crispness of the air when I walk the dog. The snow falling in clumps after days of waiting.

frozen dew on clover makes me want to hold my breath

As if by stilling the breath all reality stops — the dreaded thing doesn’t happen or the beautiful thing doesn’t pass.

We hold our breath when emotions threaten to run rampant in our hearts, take over our bodies, and leave us helpless in their wake. Sometimes that’s a good thing — feeling so deeply it stops our hearts. Sometimes it isn’t.

We women feel deeply.

We see our weakness and lean on each other for strength. In relationships, whether with family, friends, or clients, we build broadly, invest generously, and reap gloriously. But it takes energy, sacrifice, and sometimes sheer will power. And sometimes it’s terrifying.

Even tonight as I sit with my laptop, I have to consciously lower my shoulders and breathe deep with intention into my belly then release. Not because I’m tense or upset, but because I’ve been hauling today to get everything done. It’s been a high focus, high productivity week but I find my body stays keyed up for a long time afterwards. Or it’s perpetually stuck in high alert mode.

Trauma can cause us to take a deep breath. And then hold it.

Overwhelm can as well. How intimately I know this, friend. It can be from a difficult past. A difficult now. We’re moms and businesswomen, so there’s the never-ending laundry pile, the meal planning, the housecleaning, the kid raising. Serving every client, stretching every dollar, squeezing every moment with every last drop of energy we have. 

We’re multi-taskers, monster smashers, encouragement splashers, the always-there-for-everyone-at-a-moment’s-notice MASTERS. 

Yes. That’s us. We do a lot. Every single day, we move mountains. We do it beautifully, even if it feels messy. We take the next step or five. We push our passions and our souls outside our bodies into action. This takes bravery. And courage. But it takes effort. A lot of effort.

We need to take care of us so we can keep being everything we are. We need take a deep breath, then remember to breathe it out. Drop the shoulders. Release the tension. Embrace self-care like it’s our life safer. Because it is.

Self-care is our lifeline.

A healthy self-care practice demands we address our inner tensions. Makes sure we leave white space on our calendar when we’re tired. Self-care demands we push for balance. For moments of calm in between the incessant intensity that is being a woman, a business owner, and a mom. Because in doing so we allow ourselves to lean into the friction rather than brace against it. 

Self-care allows us to bear witness to the fact that the hard moment will pass, just as the air will flow again through our bodies after a deep breath. Self-care allows us to remember that we won’t stay in this tension forever. That just as the sun slides across the wall every day, so will this season pass. It allows us to see that there is a solution, even if it’s a momentary step away or a redistribution of responsibilities.

Choosing self-care doesn’t mean we’re weak.

It means we’re human! When we practice self-care, we see our strengths and find ways to hone them. We’re able to acknowledge our power, our gifts, and then provide space for them to grow. 

So take a deep breath, mama. Let it all the way out. It’s a little choice with great power. Let’s lower our shoulders. Close our eyes for a moment and smile at the future. Our dreams are worth pursuing!