31 January 2017 by Lisa Meloncon
Sometimes I look up a word that I know that I know or think that I know. I look it up because I want to read the precision that is often found in dictionary definitions, and sometimes, the alternate definitions provide a layer that I had not considered. Most of us appreciate words and their nuance, and lately, I have found that I have been looking up words more frequently, just to make sure I do know what they mean.
The word I looked up this morning was “overwhelm.” This word has popped up a lot lately in social media posts and in many conversations that I had by folks struggling to find their feet in the new term and in what increasingly feels like a new, and a bit unstable, world. The online dictionary tells me that “overwhelm” means to bury or drown beneath a huge mass; defeat completely; or give too much of a thing to a (someone), inundate. It’s the last definition that I think many of us of are feeling….inundated with too much.
As I have written before, I have no magic words or secret techniques. It’s hard to focus on the everyday-ness of our jobs when it feels like so many other things are more important and need our attention. Right now, those feelings can be overwhelming. So as usual, I turn to the painfully pragmatic as a way to remind myself and to remind you that we do have some control over own lives.
In an attempt not to feel overwhelmed here are a few suggestions:
Practice Self Care
It’s not just a buzz word, but something we each need to take seriously. We need to eat regularly. We need to try and not over do on the caffeine or alcohol. We need to sleep and exercise. We need to have down time to give our minds and bodies and spirits a chance to recover. How you practice self-care is a personal thing. I just want to encourage you to do it.
Step away from social media
I get the fear of missing out and all that, but social media can definitely be a double edged sword. Try to limit yourself or make sure you have down time away from it to see if you do actually feel better and less overwhelmed.
Engage the Mundane and Everyday
While it may seem odd or feel a little wrong, our regular lives must go on. Engaging with aspects of the mundane or everyday can be immensely rewarding. For example, as educators, we’re on the front lines of helping people (try to) see things differently. At the very least, we have the opportunity to expose students to new ideas and concepts. Engaging in the everyday-ness of teaching or a public service project (that we would do anyway) or [insert your thing here] can help offset the feeling of being overwhelmed.
We cannot be all things to all people. This is an important point to try and remember. We do have jobs and responsibilities so anything new we add is, well, new and in addition to. That means it is important recognize our limits and when you take something new on that you should let something else go. (see point 1 about self care!)
Find your comfort zone
We do not all have to engage and #resist in the exact same ways. It is ok if you happen to be doing things differently than the others around you. It is ok for you to find your comfort zone on how (and if) you want to engage with current events. There are no rules to follow but your own. Not everyone feels comfortable doing certain things so the key is to find the types of engagement that work for you.
I have written of this one before, but it has always been a tried and true approach for me. Finding the time to be thankful is important tactic toward keeping things in perspective focusing on the things you can control.
Feeling overwhelmed is a natural response to being inundated with lots and lots of things and feelings. There are no perfect solutions, but remember that you’re probably not alone in feeling overwhelmed. There’s a big community here and willing to help. Just reach out and ask.
Wishing you joy, good health, productivity, and feeling a little bit less overwhelmed.