When you feel overwhelmed (back 2 the basics)

All your lofty plans and good intentions…

Your aspirations to help others, your ideas to renovate and actualize your dreams…

Your to-do list and your bucket list…

All of these things can turn against you, haunt you, and plague you when they add up and disrupt the balance in your life.

It can be exciting to plan and scheme. Generate ideas and work towards them. A vitality seems to build up around the generating and sharing of ideas.

But if you’re like me, it’s easy to bite off way more than you can chew. To create massive plans that require more energy and resilience than ultimately proves to be available.

If you’re stubborn, you may proceed anyway down that path until you’re so burned out that no one can stand to be around you (including yourself).

Or you can get back to the basics.

Focus on your breath.

That’s about as basic as it gets, and the benefits are tremendous.

Breathe deeply. Exhale completely. Get the stale air out of your lungs.

Feel the cooling of your nostrils as you inhale, and the subtle warming of your nostrils as you exhale.

This is mindfulness. Awareness of the present moment.

Mindfulness will help you adapt and thrive in any situation life presents you with.

But it can be difficult being mindful if you have not been practicing.

So, practice by noticing your breath.

You can do this for a few minutes before you get out of bed. Or as you drift to sleep.

From a place of stillness, you can get realistic with yourself.

Take some time to write out all the plans that have built up. All of your responsibilities. Your goals and any aspiration that you’re currently devoting energy to.

Maybe you already have a list. Just look at your list.

Imagine that each item has a physical weight.

You’re carrying it all around with you every day in the mother of all backpacks.

If you’ve done any long walks with a pack, you know that what starts off feeling light and manageable can seem extremely heavy after several miles.

Then, if you aren’t able to rest and recover adequately before setting off again with the same load, it seems heavy almost right away.

It is similar with your aspirations, goals, and responsibilities.

It may seem manageable for a long time, but once you reach your limit and become overwhelmed, you’ll have a hard time getting going again.

You might get stranded, and lose your ability to function properly.

So look at your list. Figure out what you can cut loose. Imagine how much weight that would free up if the obligation you’re letting go of was a physical item in a backpack.

Letting go of obligations doesn’t mean neglecting them forever.

It just means freeing yourself up for enhanced mobility in the present moment.

Hold on to your ideas that are actionable right now.

Or choose just one that you can work on right now.

Forget about the rest for a moment, even if they are important.

What’s truly important, you’ll remember. And if not, at least you have a list.

Actually, just throw away your list.

You can make a new one later.

You’re a fluid, rapidly-evolving conscious being.

Don’t chain yourself to old ideas.

Your best ideas will come back around at the right time, and they’ll be even better than they were before. They’ll be organically fortified by your life experience, your process of living, learning, and integrating.

If you ever feel bewildered by this process, just breathe.

Cooling of the nostrils, breathing in.

Subtle warming, breathing out.

Meet yourself where you’re at.

Do what you can with what you’ve got.

You’ll build your inner muscles, and be able to handle more at once later.

But not if you overdo it now and render your inner muscles all soft and noodly.

Respect yourself. Learn to let go.

Whatever you can do right now is enough. It’s more than enough. Even if all you can do right now is take a nap.

Breathe. Hydrate. Eat natural, life-promoting things. Sleep.

You’ve got this.

Also published on Medium.