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Overcoming Being Overwhelmed

Abby Foster
| January 31, 2017

With hard work and time in recovery I began to get parts of my life back and add some more. I had my job, relationships with my family, new supportive friendships, motherhood, my recovery program, new hobbies, social commitments, volunteer commitments, recovery advocacy events and I decided to return to school. All of these things are treasured gifts but all placed demands on my time. I quickly learned that a full life can lead me to feeling overwhelmed. At  times I felt like the circus actor spinning glass plates on tall poles trying not to let any of them fall. In my active addiction whenever I felt overwhelmed, whether it was stress, depression, or anxiety, my impulse was to throw up my hands and say F-it because I began to fear that I would fail. My default was to quit. I justified my quitting by choosing to believe that it was my decision and therefore not a failure…Not a great life strategy for success.

Once sustaining my abstinence in recovery I realized once again I was experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed. I knew I needed some new strategies. As part of my recovery, I had to learn how to experience the feelings and stop running from them. I’ve had to. My life depends upon it because quitting is no longer an option, especially in regards to my recovery.

In no particular order, here are a few tools I have used to help me overcome being overwhelmed:

Move a muscle, change a thought:  Calm the body to calm the mind. Ever tried to talk yourself out of a feeling? I am unable to change my thoughts with other thoughts or think my way into right thinking – I need to go through my body. Try yoga, breathing exercises, stretching, dancing it out, or going for a walk or run.

Get a goodnight of sleep: The health benefits of regular sleep habits are innumerable. When I am tired everything seems to become more difficult, but when I am fully rested I am better equipped mind, body, and spirit to tackle the day’s objectives.

 Stop procrastinating:  Hello, my name is Abby and I am a procrastinator…honestly, I believe there is a part of me that gets a rush from being “under the gun” and pulling through at the last minute. Hey, I’m a work in progress. But I do know that if I break things down, and not leave things for the last second I feel confident, prepared, and at ease. Procrastination only adds to my stress level.

Adjust your mindset:  Stop using the “B” word! No, not that one.  Stop saying “I am so busy!” Try “My life is so full”- remember that the things that make up our lives are gifts. In active addiction my life was very small and isolated. I did little and cared about less.

Beware of Balance:  The other “B” word. Balance can be a wonderful thing but make sure that your quest for life balance is not just adding more items to your list.

 Divvy up the to-do list:

  1. Prioritize: Accept the fact that you will never be able to do everything! When I find myself confronted with a mile long to-do list I divide the items between must be done today and what can wait. For me my recovery program must always be a priority. Without it I lose everything else.
  1. It takes a village: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Where can I ask for help from my tribe-friends, family, teachers, babysitters? I have identified some household chores that are age appropriate for my son to accomplish. Not only does this relieve some of my load but it is teaching him responsibility and to help others.
  1. Sometimes you have to say No: I love to help out and be involved. But I can do this to my own detriment. When I have too much on my plate I need to be ok with saying No and taking it off my list. Sometimes this can be hard for me because I don’t want to disappoint anyone and don’t want them to feel unhappy with me **RED FLAG**  What is more important – my well-being or my worries about how someone may or may not feel about me?

I hope that you find some of these tools useful. Please comment and let me know what works in your life. I would love to hear from you and add to my own toolbox!

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