Sometimes life gets overwhelming.
I have moments where it feels as though my brain simply can't (or won't) compute anymore. The details are too vast, the to-do lists are too long, the worry and stress and anxiety are weighing too heavily. My breath quickens, my heart races, my mind is going a mile a minute but not landing anywhere concrete...
Overwhelmed. (That doesn't even seem like an adequate word for it, but it's all I've got.)
And it seems to be happening more often lately.
Maybe I overwhelm easier these days. Or maybe I'm plunging myself into the deep end more often (a-hem, badassery). Or maybe it's a little bit of both.
But I've started paying more attention to my responses in those moments and I've realized something about myself.
When I start feeling that incapacitating level of overwhelmed, I seek out something that will allow—no, force—myself not to think for a little while. It's like an internal act of surrender: throwing my hands in the air and shouting into the sky "I quit!"
I know that doing so doesn't actually solve anything that's going on in my life. It doesn't cross anything off my ever-growing lists, or provide answers to the challenges I've been wrestling with, or tackle my inbox for me. But, you know what? In those moments, it doesn't even matter.
There is greater benefit for me (both short-term and long-term) to turn off my brain before it self-destructs (because that's certainly what it feels like is happening when I'm that overwhelmed). I force myself to focus (or, I guess, it's more like not focus) on something—anything—that has zero bearing on my life. Something that isn't my problem to figure out. Something that isn't dependent upon me in any way.
I know full well that when I return to the "real world" afterward, my situation will be exactly as I left it. That everything that weighed on me before will be there to weigh on me again. I know that. But for those moments, however short and fleeting, it's all just...gone. My own personal mental blackout.
Ahhhhh, that's called escapism, you say?
And, to be honest, I'm okay with that. I'm not talking about peacing out on my own life when things get hard, and I'm not talking about denial of reality. But I think small doses of "retreating" can be healthy. At least for me. It clears my mind enough to be able to take those weights back on, and suddenly, for a little while anyway, they don't feel quite as heavy, paralyzing, and constraining.
So sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I plop on the couch, turn on Netflix, and hit play. And then I watch the next episode. And then the next one. And the next one.
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I pour myself a glass (or two) of wine. It forces me to slow down, take deeper breaths, and embrace calm.
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I text a friend about something random—anything but what my brain has been stuck on.
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I open the fridge. Or the pantry. I'm one of those people who easily eats when she's bored—and when she's stressed. "Oh, I don't have time to do everything I need to do? Let's have a snack."
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I'll distract myself with fun errands (rather than the ones I should be doing). I'll decide I'm in the mood to buy shoes—and as a non-shopper I should embrace those moments when they hit me, right?!
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I'll blare music and dance around my house... or, better yet, go out dancing with some friends. And believe me, I can't actually dance. But I sure have fun trying (even though I know I look ridiculous).
Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I'll crawl back into bed.
And, apparently, sometimes when I'm overwhelmed...
I write blog posts.
What do you do when you're overwhelmed?