Overwhelmed? Try these quick remedies

Caution - quicksand! sign in Dutch

Caution! Quicksand (Photo by Ralf Schulze; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

You know the feeling–everything needs to be done at the same time; there aren’t enough hours in the day; the avalanche of demands is so enormous that you get paralyzed and can’t take action.

When that awful feeling of overwhelm hits, try one or more of these quick remedies.  They won’t solve all the problems that assail you, but they may get you unstuck and moving forward with some ease.

  • Take a walk.  Get outdoors, move your body, and enjoy a different perspective that comes with spending time in the natural world.
  • Sit in silence for five or ten minutes with no expectation that you need to accomplish anything. Just let your mind wander, count your breaths, or dive into meditation. Give your worries a break for a few minutes.
  • Write down all the stuff that occupies your mind and causes anxiety. Make a list or write in a journal. Get it out of your head and onto paper, where you can take a fresh look at it.
  • Ask yourself this question: What is the one thing that I must get done today in order to sleep well tonight?
  • Take action on something that you feel overwhelmed about, even if it doesn’t seem like the highest priority thing to do right now. Just taking action can move you out of the paralysis that often accompanies overwhelm.

Each of these techniques helps you to regain a sense of empowerment and forward motion. Rather than getting stuck in the quicksand of overwhelm, you can step away from it and then take action based on a revised perspective.

What do you do to overcome overwhelm? Please share your experience in a comment.

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

© Pat Daniel, Ph.D. and wizardofease.com, 2011.
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The natural connection

Advice from the Princess of Ease:

Cat in the windowBefore summer disappears, spend some quality time with nature.

Posted in Nature's Teachings, Princess of Ease | 1 Comment

Admitting reality

Reality:  I’ve neglected the blog for over three weeks.

Those initial good intentions to write two posts per week have been supplanted by demands from other parts of my life.  I wish it were otherwise–that I could recreate history and relive those weeks with the discipline that started this Wizard venture.

So what does this have to do with ease?  It’s about telling the truth, about admitting reality. How often do we carry guilt and unease because we are denying something that is truly true?

While absorbed in the work that took me away from the Wizard, I’ve held a sore spot in my emotional consciousness–remorse, regret, recriminations for disappointing you dear readers, and disappointing myself.

But instead of admitting it, I continued to go along thinking maybe the problem will go away or I’ll fix it eventually.  Ha!

The remedy: ‘fess up to reality.  Then something can be done about it.

Reminds me of the first step in Twelve Step programs:  “We admitted we were powerless over (addiction)…”  Just plain admitting it starts a process that eventually leads to a life of greater ease.

Anybody else out there have trouble admitting reality?

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

© 2011, Pat Daniel and wizardofease.com.
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Cooling the context for ease

Millions of people in the U.S. have been experiencing day after day of extreme heat. Records are being broken throughout the country for temperatures and drought. Over the past year and more, we’ve endured severe weather events to make our heads spin and our wallets thin.

Image in public domain

It’s times like these when we need to look at the environmental and political context for our personal ease. How is it possible to be comfortable and relaxed while worrying about the threat of heat-related health emergencies? Where is the ease in losing your home and personal belongings in a tornado or flood?

Of course there are many things we can do to ease the stress of the external circumstances such as the current heat wave–stay in air conditioning, drink extra fluids, be flexible about daily plans, let go of expectations, be mindful of others who are in need.

But this post is not about personal measures to ease our bouts with weather and climate. It’s about taking responsibility for understanding the larger context in which these trends are occurring.

Consider, for example, the piece by Heidi Cullen in the New York Times a few days ago, or Thomas Friedman’s review of the new book The Great Disruption.

There comes a point when we need to understand that in order to insure some sense of ease over the long term, we need to look at external circumstances in our world, and specifically the impending climate crisis.

Try this:  Get involved in the effort to cool the planet — for your own sake, and for the ease of future generations:

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

© Pat Daniel, Ph.D. and wizardofease.com, 2011.
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What’s your margin?

How much margin do you have in your life?

  • Are your days filled to the edges, with no “white space” to spare?
  • Is your desk overloaded with papers and other objects, with no extra space available?
  • Is your checkbook suffering from negative margin–i.e., not enough funds to cover expenses?
  • Are you always the last breathless person to board the subway, train or plane?
Paper margins

Image in public domain

Inserting some ease into your life has a lot to do with “buffers” or reserves — the extra time, space, energy and other resources that you have to spare. If you chronically run on low margin, you’re probably not feeling easeful, and you’re adding unnecessary stress to your system.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Dr. Richard Swenson describes the equation “Power – Load = Margin.”  Power includes the various resources (e.g., strength, time, supports) you have available. Load refers to responsibilities, expectations, and obligations. If the load is greater than the power, you have no leeway or extra capacity to handle the demand.

Try this:  Begin paying attention to margin in your work and personal life. Notice how close to careen toward deadlines, how tired you are at the end of the day, how pinched you are for pennies.

Consider what kinds of buffers you could create to give your life a greater sense of spaciousness and room to maneuver. What could you do today to give yourself the gift of margin?

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

© 2011, Pat Daniel and wizardofease.com.
Posted in Stress Management, Taking it Easy with Time, Tools for Ease | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clarity creates ease

Clarity facilitates ease in work and in life. Just think about what happens when you’re not clear:

Mirroring a landscape

Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

  • When we’re uncertain about the purpose of work or the parameters of the task, we aren’t efficient with our use of time.
  • If we don’t have clarity about our goals in life, we have a hard time moving forward.
  • When we’re not clear about what the problem is, then we can’t fix it.
  • When we don’t know the root of the problem, then the attempted solution probably won’t work anyway.

Achieving clarity is one of the easiest ways to foster greater ease—whether in managing a project, finding a new job, navigating a life transition, or just being happier and more satisfied with life.

Clarity is about discernment, bringing a greater sense of understanding and focus to an issue. When we do achieve clarity, we are often surprised by how quickly the issue is resolved or resources become available. It’s as if the bewilderment and resistance melt away so that energy and change can flow uninhibited.

Quakers use a practice called the Clearness Committee. It’s a group of people who help the “focus person” achieve greater clarity about an issue in their life, whether spiritual or practical.

The committee meeting follows a process that includes the focus person describing the issue and committee members asking neutral questions–i.e., questions without opinions, solutions, or hidden agendas masked within them. Through this process, the focus person’s layers of confusion are gently peeled away, exposing an inner guidance that knows the answer.

Try this:  Consider where in your life or work you might need clarity. In what ways do you feel befuddled, aimless, or uncertain? Try being your own clearness coach and write about it until the issue comes into greater focus and definition. Or ask some trusted friends or colleagues to serve on a Clearness Committee for you.

To your ease!

Pat Daniel, Ph.D.

© Pat Daniel, Ph.D. and wizardofease.com, 2011.
Posted in Mental Ease | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment