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The Overwhelm

For the first time, a few weeks ago, I heard the word ‘overwhelm’ used as a noun - as in the ‘fact or state of being overwhelmed’. Since becoming more aware of it, it has since become a state of being I have heard more people referring to. I don’t know if this is due to an increase in people feeling it or an increased awareness of it, but the fact remains, The Overwhelm is a very real thing.

I recently started exploring podcasts… I know, I’m late to the party… not something that particularly bothers me though, especially as I’m getting older. Anyway, I came across the bite sized podcast, “Feel Better, Live More” the episode where Dr Rangan Chatterjee discusses our attitudes to rest and relaxation with Claudia Hammond.

It’s interesting how our attitudes towards relaxation can be charted during the last 18 months or so. Pre-pandemic we were all super busy just getting on with life, making plans, working hard, going on holiday, then suddenly that all changed. There was a brief period of panic where we didn’t know what to do during the first lockdown, and then we started to see great numbers of people embracing the slower pace of life, taking time out to try new things and enjoying reconnecting with leisure pursuits and down time. It was widely discussed and everyone was keen to share how much they were enjoyed their enforced period of incarceration.

Yet it hasn’t taken long for things to creep back to normal. Despite this second lockdown, we haven’t been rushing to get back to that calm and restful state, we’ve been almost desperate to get back to the ‘normal’ life that we led before. Claudia Hammond discusses this need that a lot of us have, to be ‘busy’ all the time. It’s almost as if we’re somehow not worthy of our space on this planet unless we’re actively doing stuff. Why is that I wonder? And is it contributing to The Overwhelm?

By the end of last week, things had reached a crescendo for me. No specific reason, maybe just a combination of feelings of guilt at not investing enough time in my friends, my relationship, trying to get too much done in my day job, letting things slide with the housework, feeling like I’m letting people down, letting myself down. I mean come on… we’re in lockdown, it’s not like anyone’s coming round and cares if there’s fluff on the floor, it’s not like I have family demands on my time… what’s going on? Yet I’m sure so many of us can relate to this right now, it’s one of those things that as soon as you become aware of it, you start spotting it everywhere.

To combat it, I had an enforced time out… I had to, it was getting to me. Luckily I can spot the signs in myself and take the time when I need to. I did nothing for nearly a full day except listen to podcasts (about feeling overwhelmed) and knit and it was great! The key to doing this successfully is not to feel guilty about it, and some people are better at this than others. I was also surfing social media for a bit and I saw a post where someone was feeling similar and asked for suggestions on self-care strategies. Hundreds of people commented and this in itself I found very interesting. It takes courage to talk about and it takes courage to ask the question and admit that we do sometimes need to take down time, but there’s no shame in it, no weakness, I’m glad that more of us are starting to recognise this.

Because really, when all’s said and done, what is the most important thing that that you want to achieve today? What’s really important to you? Is it being happy or being busy? Force yourself to let things slide once in a while and see what happens…

Take care x

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