Things to do RIGHT NOW if you are feeling overwhelmed

Uncertainty can be overwhelming, and in moments of acute anxiety wise adages, such as “The only thing we know for certain is that everything will change” don’t offer immediate help. Here are a few useful tips to help you overcome overwhelm.  Panic and anxiety are the thieves of choice and creative problem solving, and  it’s important we learn how to deal with them.

  • First stop your mind from ruminating on potentially catastrophic outcomes in the future by staying in the present moment.

The best way to do this is to anchor yourself in your breath and in your body. Stand up, plant your feet wide and firmly on the ground, soften and drop your shoulders, close your eyes and take five deep, slow, considered breaths in and out.

  • Lean in and unpack carefully and consciously what it is that is making you the most fearful.

The best way to do this is to journal (either writing, or if you don’t enjoy writing then record notes into an electronic device) about how you are feeling, what you fear most and why. Saying your greatest fears out loud doesn’t make them come true, in fact acknowledging them robs them of their power.

  • Watch your use of language.

Language is powerful, remain matter-of-fact when describing the challenges either to yourself or anyone else. There is no room for drama here – the way you talk about and frame things can influence the outcome. Be very disciplined with yourself about the words you choose – don’t feed the drama.

  • Develop a plan of action.

Draw up a routine for the week that includes self-care (breathwork, journaling, meditation, exercise, nutrition, sleep and connection time with loved ones) as well work time divided into one or two hour chunks (dependent on your ability to focus) for planning and research, task lists and allocation with time lines, your current and most pressing mission statement,  mind maps etc.

  • Draw up a list of people who could assist.

Reaching out is hard, but essential. Make a list of who and what you may need in terms of mentorship, guidance, coaching, therapy or any other kind of assistance (professional or otherwise) that you may need. We all need a network – plan yours.

  • First things first.

Evaluate what the most important things are to do first and set the rest aside for now. As my mother used to say to me “When faced with eating an elephant, the only way to do it is one mouthful at a time.”

Written by Gabi Lowe

Myth No 2: Resilience is all about being tough and strong.

It is often assumed that resilience is all about being tough, being strong, being assertive and hardy, not taking no for an answer, pushing through regardless of how your feel in a way that is bordering on being forceful or persistent in the extreme … sort of like going into battle with a suit of impenetrable armour to protect you from the world. The truth is that this kind of attitude may appear to serve you for a while BUT Authentic Resilience is in fact borne from deep within – it is a capacity you develop, nurture and build during challenging times deep inside of you. Paradoxically, the most Authentically Resilient people are the ones who have the courage to be vulnerable, to fail and to forgive – all characteristics that can be traditionally thought of as ‘weaknesses’.

When we look to nature we see that the most resilient trees and plants are the ones that are in fact more pliable and flexible and, whilst they don’t look the strongest, they are capable of withstanding severe weather conditions. Think of images you have seen of palm trees being lashed by hurricanes- they are able to bend without breaking. With its pliable trunk and deep root system, palms are able to weather unpredictable storms and severe winds. Yet the same storm might send limbs of a taller and stronger tree – such as the mighty oak- crashing, or even uproot the entire tree causing devastation.

When we resist rigidity (the more defensive position) to embrace flexibility and uncertainty , and allow our hearts to soften to allow our vulnerability, that is when we begin to grow more Authentic Resilience and are able to bear the toughest of life’s circumstances.

Noticing Nature

Gabi and I were talking recently about how we are noticing so much more of nature now that things are quieter. Our senses are quietened which allow us to observe more, and it feels like Mother Nature has had a chance to re-establish her presence whilst we are all taking a break. I have been acutely aware of the changing seasons as last week’s dying days of our Indian summer faded away and autumn fully came to the fore. On my weekly trip to the shops I am so aware of the colour of the leaves and how the trees have started shedding their foliage as they head into winter. Gabi is noticing the huge – and surprisingly noisy – flocks of birds visiting her garden. Further away there are reports of herds of goats and deer moving into town centres, dolphins visiting areas they are seldom seen and a leopard in a wine cellar now that there are fewer cars and people moving around.

We have an unique opportunity to become quieter and pay attention to nature at the moment -and one thing that we can be sure of is that however uncertain things seem to be at, the seasons will continue to change.

Being Present

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” – Albert Einstein

As human beings, we spend a great deal of our time thinking about our past, present and our futures, and how we think about each one of those, our attitudes to them and the attention that we give them can deeply affect us. If we dwell too much in the past, we can be stuck in regret or hankering after the ‘good old days’. By living too much in the future, we can cause ourselves needless anxiety or live in the fantasy land of ‘what if’, and miss out on what’s happening today.

If we follow the wise words of Albert Einstein we can acknowledge all three places and hold them in balance in order to create a harmonious life.

Written by Pippa Shaper

Earthquakes

Every day, all around the world, tiny earthquakes occur multiple times. Most often they are tiny, they can’t be felt, they register really low down on the Richter Scale. At other times, fortunately far less frequently, massive earthquakes cause widespread decimation across whole regions and cause enormous loss of property and life. Often in earthquake prone areas, buildings are constructed to be ‘earthquake proof’, with a strong central core yet with a degree of flexibility, so that a building is able to move with the earth’s movements rather than standing rigid and become damaged. Where structures are not built with the same strict building codes (unfortunately all too often in the poorest areas of the world), we see devastation.

We can liken this to our own lives. Every day we withstand small seismic shocks which we hardly register – traffic, crime, dealing with difficult people. Occasionally in our lives we will suffer a massive earthquake, the ones that register 8 or 9 on the Richter Scale -the death of a loved one, a divorce, a life-changing health diagnosis. And in between that are plenty of other seismic shocks which can threaten to damage us, shake our core.


How do we become like earthquake proof buildings? The answer is by investing in ourselves just as we invest in a building.  By building and cultivating our resilience before the earthquake strikes we enable ourselves to be better equipped to withstand the everyday shocks and the big ones. The quakes which would see others who haven’t invested in themselves be shaken to the ground.

Written by Pippa Shaper

Photo by Andrew Buchanan on Unsplash

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Capacity for Authentic Resilience

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”. We are often asked whether resilience is something that people are born with, or whether it something that you can develop – and the answer is both. We are all born with some degree of resilience- the human race would not have survived without it! However some people appear to be born with naturally higher levels of resilience than others. Author W Thomas Boyce, in his book “The Orchid and the Dandelion” refers to “orchid children’ who need delicate handling, and ‘dandelion children’ who are hardier and seem more resilient.

Whatever our inbuilt levels of resilience, the good news is that we ALL have the capacity to cultivate greater levels of resilience. Whilst resilience can be developed and honed by through going through difficult times, learning the tools of Authentic Resilience can also help us ‘resilience proof’ ourselves, preparing the way for when the shocks and stresses of life hit us.