Hi, my name is Victoria Adams… and here we all are still at home, still going inwards.. whether it’s into another packet of crisps or the deepest darkest depths of our soul projects or our ever-filling email inbox, and still feeling overwhelmed.
I’m going to speak frankly. There are many things, habits, foods, people, situations in our lives that we stay stuck in knowing that they’re no good for us, yet we resist to let them go. Maybe it feels too hard, or that we’d be rude to. Perhaps we’ve tried so many times and believe we’ve failed, so what’s the point in trying again.. and again and again? But that gut feeling of knowing there is a different way that could better serve us, those around us, serve our health, our waistlines, our hearts, that little bit better.. it nags and never quite goes away.
Full moon is coming up again. This is the time of the month where you might be tossing and turning all night, picking a fight with your partner at the flick of a switch, or howling at the moon dancing naked in your back garden (.. that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a back garden says everyone in London right now). Buddha was born and died, and enlightened at full moon: The Full Moon in Scorpio. This was a time of transformation. Of death, of birth, of realisation, of lightening up. If you want it to be. If you can see the wood though the trees beyond the overwhelm. This time last month was a time of real clarity for me – it wasn’t easy, but I suddenly knew what I had to do, there were no ifs or buts about it. It was very very clear. It was hard,, but when I finally let go it was clear that it could never have been any other way me. One of the things about full moon, without getting too woo woo about it, is that it’s a time where you can go mad when you fight against it and you can move forward if you know how to move with it. It’s a simple case of knowing that when the moon is full and bright, the light is very likely to disturb your sleep at night. Rather than battling against that, simply being aware of this as an obstacle, can help you put certain measures in place to ensure you do get a good night’s sleep: wear a face mask, don’t drink too much water right before bed, accept the fact that maybe if you know you’re going to be tossing and turning all night half or fully awake, choose to do something with that time instead: all night moon ritual not necessary, maybe just have the Netflix binge you’ve been trying not to do so much after all. You really can look at this time as an opportunity to harness its power or simply minimise the damage it can do as it tends to interfere with sleep.. especially if you’re female. And hey, you know that if a woman had her period on the full moon a few hundred years ago, she’d be branded as a witch? A bit of sleep interruption is the least of our worries! Anyway, this isn’t just all about sleep. And it’s not just the moon keeping us awake at night. It’s the to do list, it’s the overwhelm.
So Let’s GET CLEAR ABOUT WHAT’S OVERWHELMING YOU DURING LOCKDOWN
What is too much? This is a time of abundance for many: of time, of space… of toiletries they’ve bought or taken from hotels and never used and out of date protein powders in the back of the cupboard that the internet said would get you to 8% body fat in 8 days… 5 years ago. Whilst some are working through the backlog of books they can finally start reading, courses or projects that can now be begun, others are barely keeping afloat of the workload and emotional load coming from every direction. We are very good at “coping”. We are very good at “just getting on with it”. Our nervous system and the stress hormone cortisol are two things that help with that – at times of stress, our body kicks into survival mode. And we survive. Generally, we get through it. And let’s forget about the big stuff for moment. I’m only talking about the small stuff – the tiny things that seem trivial, that we can easily cope with. Is everything on your to do list really necessary? Are you giving yourself a hard time for no reason other than you think you should be achieving something, looking a certain way or getting stuff done? The tiny things that add up and load up almost unnoticed until we finally reach the feeling of burnout. It’s the tiny little things, the little tasks, the little chats that we think we can cope with, and we show we can cope with. That are eating us alive. This article is about letting go. Letting go of the things we know we have held on to for far too long, far too tightly, far too unforgivingly. This article is about understanding why we feed ourselves the foods we know do us no good. It’s about how we continue to harm ourselves, knowingly or otherwise, by overfeeding the wrong stuff or starving ourselves of the genuine relationships. Getting clear about what things are important in our lives, and what’s unnecessary. And this is where you might start to feel uncomfortable or disagree: because you can let them go.
It’s very hard to listen to your gut instinct when you’ve got a million and one things going on. It’s a huge case of “Too Much” Syndrome right now. And Superwoman Syndrome. Or Superman, don’t want to leave you guys out gents. It feels as though even though we are at home, the pressure is on. Whether that’s self-inflicted or coming from somebody else (probably both). Considering many of us are At Home, it feels as though we’ve never been busier?? And yet at the same time despite the phone calls, work commitments, tasks, since we’re not quite rushing physically to get anywhere, thinking about travel or the commute, some of us are becoming much more receptive. We are starting to see that some things we’ve been forced to leave behind just for now, and perhaps better left behind us forever. Things we just need to take a little bit more time to become aware of exactly what’s going on. Not out there – I still can’t quite get my head around what’s going out on there. But inside. And there doesn’t need to be a big commentary or analysis about it – we just need to take some time to get clear. So what or who is it that’s overwhelming? What are the things that are serving us well? This is a time where you find out exactly who your family are, your friends are, your trainers are. This is a time where you find out the things you like the best and least of all about yourself, also.
I’m hearing from a lot of people that they’re overwhelmed by the texts, the emails, the fact that they keep raiding the fridge despite having no time to exercise and/or make a proper meal. I appreciate that this doesn’t apply to everyone by the way. I’m hearing a lot of people say that “this is a time that is bringing out the best and the worst in people, and in myself”. And, well if this is a time of heightened overwhelm, maybe now is the time to ask yourself who are the people in my life that really count? I appreciate that we cannot really socialise, but phone communications are at an all-time high. Is that phone call with this person really necessary? Work colleague, family, friend, lover, or otherwise. It might sound cold. But we are all exhausted. At times you’ve got to be ruthlessly selfish. eek. Can I say that? Yes. When it feels like the whole world is upon your shoulders, and you can only carry so much of it, there comes a time where you have to make a call. And not call! or email or organise a Zoom quiz.
Somebody told me the story about the frog and the scorpion recently – have you heard that story? It was mentioned in an episode of After Life too, the second series is out if you hadn’t already heard guys. The Frog + The Scorpion is about inevitability and trust. It teaches that some people simply because of their nature, often can’t resist hurting others even when it is against their own interests. To trust is a beautiful thing. And the scorpion was hurtful, but that’s his very nature. The frog trusted, instead of going with its gut instinct. Instead of acknowledging the laws of nature. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust. But is lockdown going to be a time where we stay stuck in the same scenarios? Being stung by the same inevitable stings? despite being more or less confined to the four walls of home, are you going to something else to distract you by anything and everything other than facing whatever it is that you’re not ready to confront or let go? Or could you consider taking a non-negotiable stance and make the time to get clear about the things in your life that perhaps deserve a little less space in it? And it doesn’t have to be an attack or a grand gesture. It’s about treating yourself with love.
So let’s get clear. Firstly, how can you simplify the Overwhelm? To start with, maybe put a few WhatsApp group chats on mute if you haven’t already! And ask yourself where am I feeling overwhelmed? Have you put on a ton of weight, feeling behind on work, suffocated by family or friends, living with or otherwise. Perhaps you’re at home and totally lacking any sense of direction, companionship and love. And you don’t have to be living alone in isolation to be feeling this way, I’ve spoken to plenty of people living in big family units feeling exactly the same way: suffocated but alone. The problem could very likely be that you’re overfed but undernourished: talking about food, this applies to overeating all the beige foods (high in calories, low in nutrient density) and skimping or even totally neglecting to eat the nourishing nutrient-dense foods that help us thrive: fruit and vegetables, water, herbs + spices mainly. Overfed and undernourished. You can apply this to other aspects of your life: overfed + stuffed to the brim with work commitments, DIY jobs, phone calls, zoom meetings, emails and those funny WhatsApp videos that you think you’ll miss out on or you’re being rude if you don’t watch every 4 minute clip all the way to the end, and underfed the nourishment of genuine loving connection with Your People. Whoever they may be. This leads me to my next point: do you know who Your People even are? They’re the ones who support you, emotionally feed you. I’m not trying to make you out as some blood-sucking vampire friend by the way. Hopefully you feed them on an emotional level too. If you’re not sure who your good mates are, now is the time, even get a pen and paper, to figure that out. Pause this if you need to. If you’re under feeding yourself of the good stuff (you know, REAL communication) and then going to the fridge every 5 minutes in between the tough tasks and phone calls you don’t want to do but have to do, then it’s no wonder that you’re using food to try feed yourself and get through each day, but it’s not food that you’re hungry for. Here’s what you can do to address overwhelm whether it’s to do with food, relationships, work, or something you just can’t quite figure out. You need a pen and paper for this.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY THE OVERWHELM
It could be as simple as this:
– practice NOT pleasing people, including your Demanding Self
– sit in the “awkward” spaces. Be awkward.
– ask yourself what am I really frightened of? Past, future or present?
Now, I’d like you to take an A4 piece of paper and draw one horizontal line and a vertical line down through the middle so that you have four boxes. You’re going to put the following headings in each: RELATIONSHIPS, CAREER, EXERCISE, SPIRITUALITY.
These are what are called the Primary Foods. You can work with them in different ways. Basically when it comes to our lives and living, if we aren’t feeding ourselves these 4 primary foods in the right way, we then tend to turn to there other stuff: Peanut butter on toast in the middle of the night, pretzels, chips, whatever it is that you dive into knowing that it wasn’t what you really needed because, actually, you have been depriving yourself of something else.
Let’s start with relationships. Write down whatever you like or think about your relationships right now. I would start with the places you feel overwhelmed when it comes to Your Relationships: it might be the phone calls, whatsapp’s, zoom calls, or even specific relationships with certain people that you feel perhaps aren’t good for you or even the other person. Write it all down. Now, look at each point. If you were to look at these points as obstacles in your life, how can you overcome them or ease the tension it’s creating in your life? Talking about the extra communications that are happening right now, how and when can you allocate these? Can you choose 1 slot in the day that you’ll talk to people, whether it’s friends or for work?If telephone conversations are better than text, then insist on that – spend 30 minutes or an hour talking on the phone rather than all day long at the mercy of constant whatsapp’s tinging in your ear. If it’s bigger than that, if through no fault of theirs or your own you simply can’t make the time for this person (and let’s be honest, even though most of us are at home, it feels like it’s never been busier for many people.. working or otherwise.. there is so much content on the internet that it’s easy to feel the overwhelm).. Well just tell them! There’s nothing wrong with the feeling of having so much on that right now another conversation, even a good one, is too much. Leach it open, don’t set a time you know you won’t be able or want to honour when the time comes. Be honest and say you’ll reconnect when you can. It’s not about cutting people out of your life, it’s about acknowledging that you cannot be everything to everyone all of the time. Before connecting with others, the first person you should be connecting with is yourself.
Let’s move onto Career now. How many zoom meetings are too many zoom meetings? Write down in bullet points the aspects of your career that have become overwhelming. Or perhaps you’ve signed up to twenty self-development courses that you can’t keep up with . Being disciplined about work right now is difficult and unique to each and every one of us – whether you’re working like a trojan and exhausted or wishing you were actually working but exhausted anyway, write down what is challenging you, what is causing you frustration or overwhelm. Very quickly, just by putting pen to paper you might come up with a solution to whatever it is on your list that is either holding you back or causing you any kind of grief. How can you let some of it go? And please, don’t necessarily do what I did and quit the desk job! But it did allow me more time to pursue my passion. Without letting go of the 9 to 5 (er… 7 til sometimes 3am I should say) I never would have had the time or space to follow my other calling…. creating spotifies like this boring you to death or, if you’re lucky, a really good night’s sleep :)))
EXERCISE now. With exercise it feels to me like we are either not doing enough or we’re cramming in too much at the detriment of other commitments, or simply our wellbeing because we’re going hell for leather with the overexercise. Or is lack of exercise causing you to feel low? If exercise is another thing that adding to the overwhelm, it’s important you get smart with how and when you move your body. If you can’t fit a workout but you want to, what daily activity or habit can you replace? If you know you’re spending 10 too many minutes per day eating biscuits, then that’s 10 minutes you can put to use elsewhere. Whatsapping or scrolling aimlessly through social media? STOP IT! Let that go. There’s a 20 minute HIIT session workout for you right there. Or you can make a rule that you’ll only chat to your mates on the phone when you’re out walking. If you know you’re overexercising, walking and talking connecting with friends is a brilliant thing you can do. You’ll still be moving your body but at a pace that serves you and feeds you emotionally. Hopefully. Getting outside in nature could replace some of the Zoom classes and quizzes you’ve oversubscribed to.
This leads me onto SPIRITUALITY. It can mean whatever you want: it could be yoga, meditation, reading, walking in nature. It’s your you time, your alone time. It’s whatever makes you feel more like you again. It tends to be the stuff that we prioritise last, to the point that you rarely get round to doing it. Or not doing anything. Write down what yours are, or what they could be. I’m willing to bet that your spirituality activities are at the bottom of your list of chores, duties, calls, work, exercises, and other commitments. And if you really struggle to make the time for these, then find a way of doing two things simultaneously. For example, and i’m not even kidding, I was on the phone this morning to my mate Amy whilst doing facial exercises and then full body brushing. Why we stayed on FaceTime rather than just voice is beyond me. Sorry Amy! And happy birthday Nick.
Now you have your list of what’s overwhelming you, what you need more of, what you could approach to having or doing less of. And notice that probably none of this relates to food. If you are struggling with what you’re eating, and now realise that perhaps you’ve underrating or feeding yourself with the good stuff (REAL communication, and the right amount of it…) then it’s no wonder you’re popping to the fridge every 5 mins to feast on whatever’s there and yet still somehow not feel full. You’re missing out on or overwhelmed by the right or wrong primary foods: Relationships, career, exercise, spirituality. That’s why you are overeating and gaining weight – you’re not feeding yourself the right food!
Usually when I am food coaching clients, we work from this approach: don’t worry about the foods you shouldn’t be eating, or the things you usually try to cut out of your diet. Just focus on all the good things you wish to crowd in. This way all the things you’d have struggled to cut out of your diet or from your life will naturally be crowded out as there is less room for them. But right now, if it feels so overwhelming to think about more crowding or cramming in, even if it is good for you, then perhaps it really is time to look at what needs to be shed. What you need to let go.
How is it too much? Whether it’s family, work, health: diet or fitness, our passion projects: it might be that book we’ve always wanted to write, the dream we have of fulfilling… the passion project is often the thing we spend a lot of time thinking about (too much time?) but we never actually get around to seeing it out – to seeing if it’s even possible – because we are so bogged down with too much of the other things on our lists. How many lists do you have by the way? Now is the time to be discerning, ruthless even. All these things, the necessary, the not-so-necessary, which can you let go of? and I’m not suggesting you make sacrifices of people or commitments you have that are genuinely important or unavaoidable. But there is always a way around it where you do what you have to do, but you find other ways of still serving you. It’s the airplane oxygen mask thing – you can’t save others before you have saved yourself.
Did you know that the mind does not hear “no” or “not” ?if you say “I will not smoke or I will not eat chocolate” all the mind hears and conjures are cigarettes and chocolate. And so you continue to think and stay with cigarettes and chocolate. Or stress…. If you know that there is something you need more of in your life, allow the things not serving you to dissipate. Don’t create a story around it. Let them soften. Let them go. And conjure pictures in your mind of the things you would like to see – keep it simple so that it doesn’t become overwhelming [laughing]. When you simplify, and structure your days by focusing on the things you can do, and letting go of the things you cannot do, or those which you cannot control, you will find space. You will notice how simple your life – at home or otherwise – can become. And when you stop to notice, to really notice, you will see how rich it can be. Without the distractions of duties, without the overwhelm, At Home, without the trimmings of being out out. How rich life can be.
It’s easy to become obsessed with foods – over having it, not having it, trying not to be having it – and the negative thoughts feelings and habits that can crop up around this. Well the same happens with the negative thoughts feelings and habits we create around people, our workplace, our friendships, our partnerships….
If you are struggling with a food habit you want to stop, then pick one area in your life other than food (perhaps a Primary food). And shift that.
If you are harming yourself by feeding on a relationship that doesn’t serve you then no wonder you find it difficult not to harm yourself when you eat the wrong foods
And if you find yourself relapsing or making the same mistakes. .. opening that proverbial fridge door again and again. Switch the habit. Find something new and good. And Let this be a simple choice you MAKE. Over and over again. 🙂
When everything is overwhelming, rather thank making another list of the things you want to do, just let go. There’s no need to “tin” anyone or anything. You can do this with love. And it doesn’t have to be temporary. Don’t make a story around it, don’t feel bad about it, just ask how am I able to do this with love and the best intentions for a new beginning? Without anger, without frustration or holding on, if it was good once remember that, and then let it go.
If now is a time where you are having difficulty letting go of a person (or people) from your life. Try letting go of expecting of how things might turn out. Especially if your expectations of the person have never worked out DURING the relationship, expecting a certain outcome from your forgiveness or letting go process probably won’t work either. We make mistakes of our own, that maybe we can control or could have controlled, but we can’t control other people from doing anything wrong or right for that matter. And since we can’t really control any outcome despite our best efforts this is the scariest part- .. uncertainty… emotional risk.
With or without them, if you cannot change the way you perceive.. experience the situation, If it’s just as painful being without them as being with them, perhaps it is time to let them go?
Regardless, whatever we expect or hope for as an outcome, we have got to let that go. It’s the same food, our needs change. Just like the Atkins diet, that served many of us for a season, hopefully not for a lifetime.
With people, and it sounds cold and maybe it is… There does come a time to let go of the ways of living that do not serve us.
There is a beautiful RM Drake quote:
When do you let something or someone go, give it your best shot at letting go with the best of your wishes. and with love. The hardest things I have ever been through have been the biggest lessons of my life. I might not have been grateful at the time but I am so grateful for that now. And there are some things that I’m still not quite at the grateful stage for yet. 😉
Remember that feelings aren’t facts. They’re temporary. Can you find peace in that? That whatever you may be feeling now is impermanent. Life does go on. And goes on differently. If you cannot let go of any feelings of resentment, frustration, disappointment or total heartbreak right now, rest in the place inside of you that knows that it’s not forever. You might not ever forget, but you will move on. You will let go. Just because you’re not holding onto something for dear life doesn’t mean it will disappear entirely or that it can’t be there anymore. But if holding on, gripping to it, is causing you pain or any kind of damage, emotional or physical, to what extent can you let it be there without you playing an active part in perpetuating it? Let it go. Put it down even. And then perhaps it will go away all by itself.