A guest post for Powered by Intuition by Linda Wolf

Sometimes we wade a bit too deep into emotional waters, and before we know it we’re in over our heads.

You know the feeling – swirling confusion, dread, despair, depression, inability to think clearly, bursts of emotionality, paralysis in making decisions…suddenly your life seems out of control.

When even the smallest step seems overwhelming, you know it’s time for a little emotional CPR.

But how, when you’re swept up by the rip tide, can you possibly look for, never mind grab hold of, that life raft?

Learn Emotional CPR

There are many small and incremental yet forward-moving actions you can take to get yourself breathing again. They don’t require huge effort, just a little attention will go a long way.

Slow down

Often, it’s our “go, go, go” attitude that sends us off the deep end. When we’re about to drown, it’s time to back off, slow down, and take things easier. Remind yourself that getting things done on the task list is not what makes a fulfilling life. Take a breath, take a moment, look around, pay attention, and get present.

What is the one thing right now that you can do to be kind to yourself and ease some of the pressure? Give yourself permission to do that.

Ground yourself

When we have a million things whizzing around in our minds, we are in outer space, not in our lives. Bring yourself to earth by asking what is important right now? Focusing on the immediate moment and what constructive action you can take can bring the wild thinking down to a manageable level.

What grounds you? Quietly sitting with a cup of coffee? Closing your eyes and saying a quick prayer? Going outside and looking at the river? Whatever gets your mind where your body is, do it now.

Ask for help

This one is tough for those of us who believe “If you want something done, do it yourself.” But when things are just too much, it might be time to ask someone to take something off your plate. It’s human nature to want to help one other. When you ask someone for help, you are giving them an opportunity to be of service. Even children can help, and will feel respected and trusted for the responsibility.

What can you ask for help with to ease the pressure?

Take manageable bites

You don’t have to get it all done today! Break those tasks down, and do one small part. Then give yourself a big pat on the back and let it go until tomorrow, when you might do another step in the task. Too many of us suffer from black and white, all or nothing thinking. We might as well be walking the plank. When we take things in small steps, and acknowledge any motion forward as progress, we’re beginning to tread water.

Take one of your “to dos” and make a list of the smaller steps that make it up.

Surround yourself with compassion

Let others do for you what you’re having trouble doing for yourself – give you a little love and understanding. It’s ok, that’s what friends are for. Be good to yourself, too. We all have low points, so give yourself a break, allow that your energy ebbs and flows, and do some intensive self care.

Call a friend, tell him what you’re going through, and let him offer you support.

Refuel your energy source

When we are feeling overwhelmed, we’ve most likely allowed ourselves to become emotionally depleted. We’ve given away our energy without refueling as we go. We must reconnect with a source. Some turn to their faith, others to creativity, or quiet, or a beloved activity or sport. Others spend time with family, or talk to friends. Each of us finds renewal in our own way. Giving ourselves time and permission to rejuvenate is essential to surviving emotional upheaval.

Do something today that you enjoy. Just because.

Self-care, self-care, self-care

Be kind to yourself in all of this. If you’re drowning, the worst thing you can do is panic. Recognize your dilemma, and give yourself choices for self-care. Take breaks during the day. Go on a weekend retreat. Adjust your self-talk to be more allowing and less judgmental. Talk to friends. Do things you love. Allow for fun. Let others help you. Do less. Rest more.

Remember that when you’re emotionally overwhelmed, the worst thing you can do is add to your task list. The key is to take things off your list that cause stress and add others that support relaxing your mind. There is no magic rescue from emotional drowning, but there are plenty of rubber rings and flotation devices that you can hang onto as you steer yourself slowly toward shore.

What is one thing you can give yourself today that nourishes your body, mind, or spirit?

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Linda Wolf writes Insanely Serene (www.insanelyserene.wordpress.com), a blog devoted to her passion for peace of mind and serenity. She shares her experiences and offers practical suggestions for moving from low self-esteem to powerful self-confidence. You can also find her on Twitter at @insanelyserene.

Photo credit from Flickr: Elspeth and Evan.

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