The free online dictionary defines overwhelm as :
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. To defeat completely and decisively: Our team overwhelmed the visitors by 40 points.
b. To affect deeply in mind or emotion: Despair overwhelmed me.
3. To present with an excessive amount: They overwhelmed us with expensive gifts.
4. To turn over; upset: The small craft was overwhelmed by the enormous waves.
As I read this I can definitely relate. With a large amount of work, relationship, family, and other pressures of responsiblities I often have felt like I am burried, drowning, or upset or turned over. The big part of this definition that jumps out as me is:
2b. - To affect deeply in mind or emotion.
Being overwhelmed tends to be viewed with negative connotation but let's view it from this definition. If I am affected deeply in mine or emotion is this neccesarily bad? Bad news could affect me deeply but I could view this as a gift. If I have a lot coming at me and feel that I am getting too much too fast this is the time to step back and if I am affected deeply I will definitely notice that nudge.
Here is an activity I find helps when feeling overwhelmed:
1. I stop - I stop what I am doing, I give myself permission to completely stop, I let go of trying to think, do, or act on anything. Just for a moment, if I do this for 1-5 minutes it will be worth it and I have won.
2. I focus on my breath - I do this gently and simply notice how my breath feels, if my attention is taken from my breath I bring it back to it by simply noticing what my attention to and noticing if i am breathing in or out in the cycle.
3. After 5 or so breaths I start to simply notice the physical feelings of my body. I notice my tensions, my pains, and anything else inside. I treat it like a mental body scan from the top of my head to my toes. I don't try to do anything about these ailments. I just notice them.
4. I slow my breath and focus on long deep breaths, I imagine all the energy that all my ailments in my body are taking up letting go with each breath. I don't try to let go of the ailments, just the energy.
5. I say a prayer and ask for God's will in my life in this matter.
Does this always work completely? yes in that it gives me a cornerstone on perspective. I wouldn't say it is a miracle cure for all anxiety in my life but it is a good tool for dealing with the things that overwhelm me.