step-by-step guide for when you're feeling overwhelmed

step-by-step guide for when you're feeling overwhelmed

There are a lot of things that can and need to be done to prevent the dreaded state of #overwhelmed. To name just a few —

  • Setting boundaries (and saying "no" in general),
  • Sticking with a routine,
  • Staying organized,
  • Having good systems for task management,
  • Getting enough sleep

Some of those necessities are pretty lame (I love getting lots of sleep, but I don't love early bedtime), and others are kind of fun and interesting if you're a productivity and personal development dork like me.

But even when we have good practices in place, the truth is that there is no magic bullet of "if you do this, you'll never feel overwhelmed again!" 

Whether it's a new baby, a nasty virus, a family emergency, a nightmare co-worker, second trimester morning sickness, a big work deadline, or any other kind of unexpected curveball — shit happens that makes even the best laid Overwhelm Prevention Plans go to hell in a hand basket.

So if you're already in the thick of it, what do you do?

Of course, again there is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all advice, but below are a few important tips and reminders when you find yourself feeling like you're in the weeds on a Saturday night in your first waitressing gig.

1. Take 5...

...breaths, that is. Before anything else, you need to get the oxygen flowing with 5 deep, slow breaths. Make sure to breathe into your belly, not just high up ion your chest, and try to match the length of your inhale with the length of the exhale, pausing briefly before each exhale. This will start to immediately regulate your nervous system so you can think more clearly about the next steps to take.

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how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

Below is the beginning of a post I contributed to Recovery Warriors, a badass online magazine for eating disorder recovery.To read the full post, click here.

Here’s a glimpse into a pretty common dialogue that shows up in various ways in my work with clients who are navigating eating disorder recovery (usually alongside depression and anxiety). I’ll call this fictional client “Brit”. 

Brit: “I was feeling really crappy yesterday.”
Me: “Yeah? What kind of stuff you were thinking or feeling?”
Brit: “I don’t know, really, it was just inner critic stuff and anxiety I guess.”
Me: “So if I could have plugged headphones into your brain at that moment, what are some of the thoughts I would have heard?”
Brit: “Hmm… maybe like that I have a lot of demands on me at work that I’m worried about, and that I was bad for not making it to the gym that day and eating a bigger lunch."
Me: “Gotcha. And what about the feelings, like emotions or stuff in your body? 
Brit: “Just anxiety like kind of a pressure in my chest, I can feel it some now just talking about it.”
Me: “Can you describe it more, what it feels like right now?”
Brit: “It’s kind of hot in my chest, and a little queasy in my stomach, and my shoulders are tense.”
Me: “Right now, does it feel okay for that feeling to be there?”
Brit: “I don’t really like it, but yeah, I guess so.”
Me: “Just see if you can breathe into those places, your stomach, your chest, and your shoulders, without needing to change or fix them. And are any of those thoughts showing up right now?”
Brit: “A little bit, but not as much. I think it helped just saying them a minute ago.”
Me: “Nice! Sometimes all it takes is just breaking it down a little bit to understand more about what’s going on with you instead of just having that vague sense of ‘yuck.’” 

(I’d go further with her on this, but this part is enough to illustrate my point for now.)

I see those heads nodding in recognition! (Says my clairvoyant alter-ego) —and believe me, this is very much still an ongoing practice for me, too. Whether it’s a specific event that triggers it, or a thought or feeling that shows up first, often I have to intentionally step back and break down piece-by-piece to get clear on what’s going on with me, as I walked through above. 

(To continue reading, head on over to Recovery Warriors!)

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using guided imagery to heal in recovery

using guided imagery to heal in recovery

How to use guided imagery as a tool in your recovery from an eating disorder, addiction, or trauma

Many of the most powerful experiences I’ve witnessed in session with my clients have in some way involved guided imagery. If that sounds a little new-age woo-woo for you, stick with me for a minute.

As psychologists Judith Rabinor and Marion Bilich write in Effective Clinical Practice in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, “Focused imagery, in a relaxed state of mind, has been shown to positively affect medical conditions such as cancer, to improve self-regulatory capacities such as heart rate and blood pressure, and to enhance performance in a wide variety of fields (Naparstek, 1995).”

So what exactly is guided imagery? Basically, it’s an umbrella term for any type of focused imaginative exercise that incorporates one or more of the senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, and tactile). You can do some types of guided imagery on your own, and others are easier with a therapist or other trained practitioner directing the exercise in a group or one-on-one setting.

Rabinor and Bilich continue, “We have found that guided imagery is a powerful but underutilized tool that can transform one’s clinical work no matter what one’s theoretical orientation… Imagery is the language of the unconscious. It has long been known that imagery techniques tap into that deep level of consciousness that cannot be accessed by words alone, giving voice to the unconscious thoughts and feelings that may affect behavior.”

In my experience, guided imagery — especially when used in conjunction with evidence-based treatments like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Internal Family Systems (IFS) — can help people access deeper layers of awareness, insight, and healing than they’re able to reach with purely cognitive approaches.

EMDR with a Therapist

With EMDR, a widely-renowned trauma therapy modality, imagery is a key component of the protocol. While it’s important to allow space for the client’s experience to organically flow where it needs to, a well-trained therapist can deepen the healing work by skillfully guiding the client through the session, often involving rescuing or reparenting the younger wounded self.

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why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

why i'm happy i'm not a gardener

The funny thing about the title of this post is that a couple of my closest Nashville friends are not just gardeners, but professional gardeners. (And for a woman-owned, almost entirely female-staffed gardening biz with a badass Rosie-the-Riveter-inspired logo, no less). If I were them, I'd see this headline and be all "whaaaa why is Val throwing shade?" — to which my response is, "girl, I thought you'd want all the shade you can get, it's getting pretty damn hot out there." #horriblepunintended

I digress.

As my hard-working hubby Chris is outside at this very moment pulling weeds and planting herbs, I'm in here in the air-conditioned living room on the couch, typing away in my little computer world. Do I feel guilty? Well, a tiny bit, since I will totes enjoy those herbs — but he knows gardening is NOT my thing, and that when I do it, I get really pissy after about ten minutes, so it's really no fun to be around me anyway. Left to my own devices, I'd plant and kill herbs for a month or two (spare me the lecture on how to care for herbs kthx) until resigning myself to paying for the exorbitantly overpriced grocery store variety.  

A couple of years ago, inspired by my badass aforementioned gardener friends, I said I wanted to learn how to garden. Oh boy! I couldn't wait to get some tips and lessons from them, get my hands on some gardening books, and dig in. But it never happened.

For a long while, I felt guilty about it. "What's wrong with me? Why am I not taking action on this? I keep saying I want to do it, and doing nothing." Chris would convince me, literally maybe once/season, to get out in the yard with him. (For him, it's not even so much as having the help as it is the company — sweet, and misguided, as he eventually learned re: the quality of the company.) 

I don't remember at what point I swallowed my pride and admitted it to myself, but sometime in the last year or so, I finally said it: I really don't like gardening. In fact, I kind of actually HATE gardening. 

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WholeYou Podcast #10: Fifth Chakra (Vissudha)

WholeYou Podcast #10: Fifth Chakra (Vissudha)

Feeling creatively drained or struggling with clear communication? Take a listen to our WholeYou throat chakra episode. 

Episode 10 of the WholeYou podcast is here!  See below for the show notes, listen to the show (stream or download) on the embedded SoundCloud box below (on the full post - click "read more" at bottom), or find it on iTunes of your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening! 

Fifth Chakra At-a-Glance:

  • Sanskrit Name: Vissudha
  • Location: Throat area
  • Element: Sound
  • Color: Blue
  • Issues: Communication, creativity, listening, resonance, finding one's own voice, purification, refinement
  • Basic Rights: To speak and be heard

What we Discuss in Episode #10:

  • How to know if your fifth chakra is out of balance
  • Signs of a deficient and excessive fourth fifth
  • Finding your voice and creativity
  • Blocks to creativity and how to bring more creativity into your life
  • Yoga poses, meditations, and pranayama to balance your fifth chakra
  • What resonance means and why it's important with the throat chakra
  • Fifth chakra affirmations

Lauren and I are really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your comments. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and please take 1 minute to leave us a review on iTunes  — it helps us to reach more people, and we'd be so grateful! 

 

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