Blogversation 2012: How do you cope?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation here and on their blogs — asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the ladies of Blogversation 2012.

Today’s question comes from Jennifer Worick,, on Twitter as @jennifer_worick:

When things become overwhelming, how do you find balance, cope, or just plain get through it?

Jennifer Worick asks a question that I think will sound familiar to all of us -- about how you cope when you get overwhelmed.

I’ve had three massive deadlines. I wish I could say they were back to back but they overlapped, because I clearly have a hard time saying no. And this has led to me working until I go to bed, finding myself unable to sleep because of a racing mind, snapping because of a short temper, indulging in my victim/martyr complex, etc. So I have been trying different things: focusing on one task at a time, focusing on just what needs to be done today, meditation, massage, baths, isolation, etc.

So I’m asking this question in hopes of finding some kindred spirits, but also some concrete strategies to find balance during this lopsided period.


Categories: creativity, health and well being, lifestyle

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. I could offer up practical pointers you probably know — I make obsessive lists, especially helpful at bedtime so I can write something down and give my brain permission to stop obsessing; I try to take little breaks to breathe deep and maybe stretch a bit; I give myself permission to cut corners where I have to in order to make time for places where I don’t want to skimp.

    But probably the most important thing I do is what John and I call making tea.

    John can correct me if I get the details wrong, but as I understand the origin story of this phrase:
    A hometown friend of John’s was leading an expedition across the frozen tundra of Alaska. Because so much snow had drifted, they didn’t see that they were walking across a deep cravace, and the snow gave way, leading them to tumble down.
    Several in the group started to panic when they couldn’t climb up the sheer, steep rock and they urgently demanded the group leader tell them what they were going to do.
    He sat down, opened his pack, made a fire, and made tea.
    The incredulous group thought this dire situation was no time for tea. They wanted out!
    But the leader said no one makes good decisions when you’re panicky, so the best thing to do in a bad situation is to calm down, to allow yourself to clearly assess the problem and possible solutions.

    So now when one of us is feeling overwhelmed, we refer to making tea. Sometimes we do it for real, other times it’s verbal short hand for stepping back and taking the few minutes to get back into a place where we aren’t just clawing desperately at frozen rock, not making any progress.

  2. I am guilty of spinning my wheels with “so much to do” and if I would just roll up my sleeves and get to it, it would be done. That’s not the case for all projects and sometimes you need a good spin before you find your way, but sometimes the biggest hurdle for me to get over is myself. When I’m in spinning mode, I’ve found that yoga helps relax and quiet my mind.

  3. Like John, self-care is my best defense when feeling overwhelmed. I typically eat lots of greens, get extra rest, take a bath, yoga, stop and just breath. If I keep going and going and going, without taking care of myself, I usually get sick. I’m also a believer in “to-do” lists like Evelyn. They give me the best sense of accomplishment and direction.

  4. Whenever I get over whelmed, I ask myself this very unusual question: “Can I be with it?” And in the beginning I might only be able to “be with it” for 10 seconds or a minute…but eventually my “being with” muscles get stronger and I find I can be with “it” longer than expected and in fact the more I am able to be “with it” the less hold it has over me.

    Although initially one might think that it’s the last thing we would want to choose to be with – the truth is it is “what’s so.” Either consciously or unconsciously we are “being with it” but when we choose to feel it and not resist it -the dynamic changes.

    This technique is called Emotional Connection created by Raphael Cushnir. And it’s one of the more powerful tools I use with my clients when they feel overwhelm, fear, stuck or even when they just can’t say No.

    Here are the two questions: 1.) What’s happening now? And 2.) Can I be with it? The key is allowing all the feelings to be felt, not resisting any of them, and surfing them all through.

    Simple not easy. But once you practice this often enough – you will find that it does get easier over time. Want to learn more? I rec Raphael Cusner’s book: The One Thing Holding You Back.

  5. Despite the wisdom that comes with age – that it’s OK to say no; that it’s OK to take time for myself; that it’s OK to not be perfect; that no one really, truly cares if I dusted the living room; that I’m not an alcoholic if I have a glass of wine with dinner most nights – there are times when I become overwhelmed.

    Recognizing that I am overwhelmed is a blessing in disguise.

    When I feel like my hair’s on fire, I realize that I’ve overloaded myself. It’s then that I quickly change course. I reprioritize. I get someone to help.

    Then, I do one of two things: either I bake, or I go to the movies. You can read all about my baking by clicking here.

    There’s something about sitting alone in a dark theater, watching something, anything, that keeps me and my mind still for a couple hours. Like putting pressure on a spasming muscle, watching a movie, especially a silly movie, breaks the cycle.

    Then I give myself the rest of the day off.

  6. Laughter! Just find some ridiculous thing. We’ve been watching the same segment of a recent Saturday Night Live over and over and we laugh every time. (It’s the one where figures from pop culture come visit Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Baby Blue Ivy.) Do you have a favorite comedian? Can you watch him/her on Netflix? Also, get out and do something outside your regular routine that gets your mind totally outside your current perspective. Or reach out to someone else who is in need.

  7. I don’t have writing deadlines overlapping (YET!!!) but whenever I have LIFE deadlines getting all tangled up I go with a calendar list. Write down every single thing that needs to happen on a project and put it on a calendar with time allotments for each. The trick is making yourself start and stop when you have scheduled yourself to. Good luck!!

  8. Prioritized, detailed “to-do” lists are my salvation. Making them helps me stay focused and keeps the overwhelm at bay. Then use a big black marker to cross off each task as you complete it. Very gratifying.

  9. I have a list of things that almost always help me recalibrate, recharge, get back on track or just chill out. They are: take a bike ride, see a movie, draw or paint, go out for pizza and Get a massage.


  1. Blogversation 2012: Wrapping up a year of online conversation « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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