This morning I woke up feeling overwhelmed. All my “to-dos” for the day started immediately looping through my head. The needs of my clients and my growing baby felt like a weight on my chest (and belly… literally). The idea of continuing to manage my pregnancy, my practice, and grow this page effectively, without slacking on any of them (plus friends, family, marriage, etc.), felt like too much.
I’m the person who wants to shut down when I get overwhelmed. I want to do nothing and hide from it all. Unfortunately that’s not a choice for me today. So after about 30 minutes of mind numbing perseveration in bed I started working through some of the questions I ask my clients when they come in overwhelmed. Is there anything I can take off my plate today? Yes. But the things I can, such as writing this right now, I don’t want to. Are the things I’m worried about actually in my control? If yes, what is just one thing I can do to feel productive? If no, what is something I can do to let that worry go?
For me I focus on doing. Not doing more, but taking even just one action, rather than allowing myself to feel paralyzed. For other people I might help them find a meditation or calming skill to help manage the anxious feelings. There is some trial and error in this process. Meditating right now, for me, would feel like wasted time and therefore overwhelm me more. It won’t be the same for every person.
Regardless of which behaviors or skills help a specific person, self-compassion is something I preach across the board. Clearly there is something going on in me today that is impacting my ability to manage all my responsibilities like I typically do. And that’s ok. It’s not a new permanent state. So for today, I’ll be aware that I might only get the necessities done. I’ll be aware that I might need extra time. I might need extra self-care. And if I don’t take time for these things, I will probably end up even less effective because that shutdown mode will set in.
These are all the things I would tell myself if I were my own client. It is easier for me to help others through these moments than it is for me to heed my own words. A lot of us do this, right? We know how to help ourselves but think we “shouldn’t” need that help. We love and support and understand when anyone else has a hard day. But we condemn ourselves for the same thing. Working in mental health does not mean I have it all together. I have the same struggles that my clients and my friends do. What I do have is the knowledge and skills to work through these moments. I will do my best to apply them today. And I will do my best to love myself through the process.