5 tips for managing overwhelm with serentity

At this time of year many of us try to be the archetypal model of a swan, gracefully gliding over the surface whilst paddling like fury under the water line trying to get everything done both in the work environment and at home!  I can relate to this, especially with so many events that occur at this time of year one after another as well as trying to squeeze in all the end of year things that we feel have to get done.

Above the surface we may seem calm and our demeanour in control, but the mind is racing, probably our hearts also as we try to make sure that everything is in place to ensure we can enjoy the few days off over the festive period from our place of work, whilst at the same time multi or triple tasking to do all the things for the family to make the time together special. As minds are on “organisational alert,” we risk asking the retrospective question of “Was it worth it?”  The question obvious, as we know that mind and body wasn’t there to enjoy it ... we were worried about other things! In all of this chaos, in our heart we know that this isn't the real “nature” of living, or most effective way to live and enjoy the festive season as well as life as a whole.

What can You Do to Avoid this Trap of Frenzied Festive Living?

There are those amongst us who completed Christmas shopping in August, well ahead of the rush. Congratulations goes to them. There are those who also sit back and let it all unfold before them, buying a festive meal from M&S, Waitrose or the like, together with the inevitable bottle or two of bubbly, as anything else is irrelevant. But what about the rest of us? We can’t turn back the clock, only make sure we follow their example next year. Perhaps we’ve promised others a special meal, invited friends for cocktails, for Boxing Day to eat up left-overs or to share a cup of tea with homemade Christmas cake and mince pies, so we can’t go back on that at this late date. Only one way forward and that is to rid ourselves of the stress and associated anxiety of this time of year through changing our perception, approach and behaviour to limit the volume and switch on the fun gene.

2023 has been a difficult year for most with everything that is going on economically, globally and financially, with no apparent way out. Letting go of all the peripheral actions and noise is the foundation to finding that inner self that is full of joy that creates focus naturally combined with a sense of peace and calm. Try some deep breathing, giving gratitude, mediation or walking in nature on a daily basis. You might even combine all together. What are the effects on the physical, mental and emotional of using these techniques?

Five Tips to Finding a Peaceful and Joyful Inner Self

Deep breathing – Breathing in for a count of 7-8 and out for a count of 10-11 will switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), releasing any tension and anxiety and helping you to ground yourself. Deep breathing slows the whole system down and enables you to let go of all worries, things to do and those feelings of overwhelm. If you can’t manage a count of 7-8 and 10-11 just be sure that your out breath is longer than the in breath. Make your breathing slow and deliberate and after 5-6 deep breaths observe how you feel. Continue with more breaths if there is still some anxiety to the point that you feel relaxed and more in “control”.

Giving gratitude - Takes perhaps three minutes depending on what you have to be grateful for. Remember this does not have to be about large items, it might be but does not have to be. It is about those small things in life that we might take for granted, and are blessed with – good friends, the food on your table, the coloured foliage in your garden that brings some colour at this time of year, the shop assistant who helped you, station master or someone else. Gratitude is a humbling mechanism helping us realise how blessed we truly are and to be at peace in this.

Meditation – often called mindfulness. This is not as difficult as you think. Simply stop and listen to the noise in your head and then slowly fade that noise out to listen to your true self. The process is made easier by listening to your breath, to gentle, calm music or a guided meditation. The benefit – it washes away all the noise, slows heart rate, quietens the mind as you tune into yourself and how you are feeling, enabling time to remove the negative, anxious thoughts and replace them with positive, calm, intuitive thoughts.

Nature – Nature shows us how to be at this time of year as well as at other times with every season. Winter is a time for hearty, nourishing, earthy meals – porridges, soups, casseroles and stews. For some it might switch on the sweet craving for sponge puddings, pies and cakes. Eating hearty nourishing foods will help limit the sweet craving. Mother nature also shows us to slow down, invest in our selves by taking down time and allowing the body to rejuvenate ready for the spring and burst of energy and vitality that goes with that. If you do not restore at this time, the burst of energy and vitality will not appear in the spring.

Letting Go – Looking at the symbolic aspect of letting go of the old year and welcoming in the new year use it to let go of everything you want to leave behind, whether grudges, conflict, habits, ways of living or relationships. Make that break by thanking the “Universe” for the lessons you had to learn and let them go with thanks and gratitude. You are a wiser, more open, happier person.

Frequently times of truly living are missed. When I think of life and how easy it is to fall into the 'swan' model, I know there is more. I am not saying that we should 'down tools' and not work hard towards the good things we want for ourselves and others. To me it is all about doing what you do well, as opposed to triple tasking and having to go back because of mistakes. Seeing clearly what is important and working with commitment and in full presence.

In the coming year I hope to be 'swan-like' without the frenzied paddling, simply gliding along the water as I do my part to organise and put into place all resolutions, goals, events etc. I wish everyone a level of spiritual calm that puts things into perspective showing each one of us what is and is not important, a resource that gives a deeper sense than that of frenzied paddling, leading to a sense of balance, bringing about refreshing self-leadership, clear decision making and a fun, focused person to be and to be with.

Wishing you all joy whilst celebrating this special festive season. As well as inner calm to celebrate the closing of the old year and opening of a new one. May you and your families and loved ones be healthy, happy and all your goals and resolutions achieved with ease.

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