Feeling Swamped? 5 steps to recover from life's storms- Part 1 in 2 Part Series

Are you feeling swamped, overwhelmed, and like you are struggling to keep your head above water?  This feeling can be brought on by any number of factors:

  • too much work, too little time
  • the high intensity of your work setting (trying to help people solve complex problems, struggling to meet the demands of your job, difficult relationships with peers or supervisors)
  • trying to juggle work with family responsibilities & other areas of your life
    worry about financial security or the physical & emotional health of you and your family members

The list goes on and on.  You might even have many factors in your life that combine to create the perfect storm of challenges that makes you feel like you are wading through quicksand.

I live in the Houston metro area and we have experienced two major floods this spring.  The rain and flood conditions had an impact on our family and our farm business.  The floods gave me new opportunities to practice self care at a much deeper level.  We were literally “swamped” and needed to take very specific steps to recover from the floods.  These same steps can be applied when you are feeling swamped by the demands of your day-to-day life.  This is the first in a two-part series on five steps to recover from life’s storms.

1.Get to safety.
In a flood, your first priority is safety.  You need to act quickly to move to high ground and get out of harm’s way.  Staying in a situation where you feel swamped on an ongoing basis can be harmful for your health.  There are different kinds of floods and different types of stress that lead to a sense of overwhelm.

A flash flood is similar to acute stress.  It rains so hard that you are standing in the pouring rain and water starts flowing all around you.  In life, a traumatic event or a tragedy happens and you have to respond immediately.  You do whatever you have to do to get to a safe place.  Although it comes on suddenly, it’s hard to deny the effects of a flash flood or acute stress.  You follow an emergency plan and take steps to get to safety: get to high ground in a flash flood or get out of the situation of acute stress as soon as possible.

It’s a little more tricky with rising waters, which is similar to chronic stress.  It can sneak up on you when you aren’t paying attention.  It’s still just as important to get to safety.  Chronic stress does just as much harm to your health as acute stress, but it’s harder to recognize.  It’s important to take a look at your life and notice if you are standing in high water when it comes to your life circumstances and stress level.  If so, get to safety as soon as possible.  This might mean that you go on a vacation or a weekend getaway.  It might mean that you talk to your family or boss or a therapist to determine a safety plan.  Whatever it takes, physical, mental and emotional safety is your first priority.

2.Accept help and support.
In a flood or a natural disaster, trained professionals and volunteers come from all corners of the globe to help.  (You already know this because you are one of those helpers.)  I know.  I know.  It’s hard for you to accept help because you are usually the one who is helping others.  Guess what?  It’s your turn to be on the receiving end.  It’s ok.  There are so many people who care about you and want to help you recover from the flood and the feelings of overwhelm.  Please accept their help and support.  You know how good it feels to help others.  You do it on a daily basis.  Allow those around you the gift of being there for you in a time of need.  Look around you for the people who can offer you a lifeline.  Reach out and grab it.  Take some time to catch your breath.

The rest of the process takes a while.  I don’t want to add to the overwhelm so I’ll save the rest of the steps for the next blog post.  In the meantime, check in to assess your level of overwhelm.  Do you need to make changes (big or small) to feel a sense of safety?  What can you do today?  Listen to your intuition and decide on the first step depending on your own situation.  Reach out and connect with someone in your support network.  Take a few minutes each day to pray, take a few deep breaths, walk around the block or listen to soothing music.  I look forward to continuing the journey with you.  Take good care of yourself.

If you're ready to read part 2 of this article, you can do so here.