Never, in the history of ever, has telling someone to calm down actually helped them to calm down.
As I started writing this my auto-rotating background was a lioness staring the camera down with her intense yellow eyes. I decided to name her Augusta. How fitting a photo to pop up for an article about dealing with overwhelm.
Can you imagine being the photographer? Starring through your hopefully long magnifying camera lens and knowing if Augusta decided to charge you nothing under the sun would save your life. At the same time you’re having a precious, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture this image and to be in the presence of a truly amazing creature.
All of that in and of itself creates a balance of tension. There is a definitive con, being mauled to death by a lioness, and definite pro, an amazing experience. But what happens when the scales are out of balance?
2016. That’s what.
No matter how you look at 2016, the scales tipped, smacked into the ground and busted. I mean Britney Spears did what she could, releasing her greatest album, but even that bliss couldn’t withstand the onslaught of 2016. We’re now three fourths of the way through 2017 trying to fix the scale before we can even balance the scale. This is the era of overwhelm.
Regardless of how you feel about Britney Spears and lions, these are tense times we’re living in. How do you overcome overwhelm? Same way you accomplish anything in life: one step at a time.
Step 1 is to admit you’re overwhelmed in any capacity. What follows are the next steps. Don’t worry about getting the order right. There is no right order in life. These are my suggestions to you. Having been deeply steeped in the nutrition world for the last decade I did a mix of nutrition and life tips. Take what serves you and leave what doesn’t. Share with friends, family and the other humans in your world, as we could all benefit from finding our peace.
Water is magic.
In moments when it feels as though the whole world is caving in, find a quiet as possible space and drink 12 ounces of water. Sitting is optimal, but leaning up against a wall or standing will do. Focus only on each sip of water. Taking a deep breath in and out in between each sip. Absolutely no phone!
When you’re done, take a deep breath in counting to 4, hold it for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Here’s what’s happening. Dehydration increases stress, anxiety and poor cognitive function. Irritability, anxiety, trouble focusing, and exaggerated reactions all stem from and/or are made worse by dehydration. Drinking water can break this cycle and meet your most basic human need for water. The water goes into your bloodstream, thinning your blood to normal levels and thus reducing your blood pressure.
The deep breathing and detachment from the stressors puts a halt to frying your nerves. It calms your nervous system and gives all your tissues fresh oxygen to function.
Counseling is where you discuss your experience in this life through the lens of your perspective and then a licensed mental health care professional gives you tools to help you build the life you want. Your perspective lenses will change as you go through the process. A lot. Several times over.
Counseling is not something to be ashamed of or do later. If you have an overflowing toilet, turning off the water and fixing it are not things to be ashamed of or do later. Dealing with overwhelm is your brain overflowing with…
It’s also not exactly magic. You get out what you put in. If you want to get magic out, you’ve got to put magic in. Helpful hint: You and your boundless potential are magic. Go all in. Go all in in your counseling sessions. Go all in on your life. When time allows for it, go all in on a nap.
If you are one of the fortunate that have health insurance and or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) use it. Use it for your wellbeing. Use it for the benefit of all your loved ones. Use it to get the skills to get that major promotion or make that side hustle your only hustle. If it feels right and you want to honor your pettiness, use it to get everything you can out of your employer. You can cover pettiness in your counseling session.
This article, and no article on the internet, can replace the care of a licensed mental healthcare professional. Venting on social media cannot either, but it can spread your tension, negativity and anxiety to others dealing with their own struggle.
When you’re are stressed – acute, chronic, physical, emotional – your body basically hemorrhages zinc. The one nutrient you need the most to combat stress. This is about as logical as the female having prolonged periods in response to low iron levels. The human body is a miracle, but it’s got some definitive shortcomings.
Other things that increase zinc loss/deficiency: vegetarian diet, diarrhea, excess supplementation of other minerals, vitamin D deficiency and anxiety.
Signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency: diarrhea, ingrown hairs, ingrown nails, dandruff, chronic infections, ridged-fragile nails and high stress levels.
Before you run out and slam a zinc supplement or give up your valid vegetarian diet, here’s some insight. 1.) Zinc is a metal. Supplementing with a metal can upset your stomach. This metal can give you a metallic aftertaste for hours plus extreme nausea. 2.) Your vitamin D has to be on point or supplementation is moot.
Throat lozenges with zinc can be a great solution as long as they are free from toxic food additives. If you choose to take a zinc supplement, I would recommend every other day, right before bed. Vegetarians make sure your multi has zinc and take it at a separate time than a zinc supplement. If you’re taking any meds, find out if zinc interacts with them.
Zinc rich foods include oysters, red meat, zucchini, yogurt and pumpkin seeds. Zinc from plant sources is less bioavailable due to oxalate.
What would a self-made bagillionaire do?
When I’m feeling like my back is against the wall I use this trick. What would Oprah do? What would Tony Robbins do? What would Mel Robbins do? What would J.K. Rowling do? What would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson do?
All of these humans went from nothing to top of the world because of 2 things:
I’ll bill you for that recipe for success later.
They know what it’s like to have nothing and what it took to have everything. They also now operate from a capacity where money is not an issue. If you remove the cloud of money worries you can see solutions. Operate from that place. The money will follow.
Self-made success Marie Forleo would tell you that, “Everything is figureoutable.”
Oprah, well Oprah would get real with you. Some tried and true Oprah-isms that guide my every moment are practicing gratitude and “keep taking the next right step.”
There is always something to be grateful for and in the moments gratitude seems the hardest to come by are the very moments you need it the most. Oprah overcame poverty, sexual assault and a lifetime of dealing with bigots to be able to pay someone to go count all the trees in a forest because she was curious how many trees there were. She has remained kind and honest the whole time.
Tony Robbins would tell you to change your physical state. When you change your physical state it physiologically changes your neurons, which changes your mood and perspective. Dude went from not knowing to where his next meal was going to come from, choosing to have faith it would all work out, to self-made billionaire.
Mel Robbins, well she would have you use The 5 Second Rule to 5-4-3-2-1 write down EVERYTHING on your plate. And then pick 3 things you CAN do. Only 3. In fact, a lot of highly successful people and this thing called science will tell you that you can only do 3 things in any given day. Today’s top 3 are important, everything else will either sort itself out or be there tomorrow.
What would J.K. Rowling do? What would the Rock do? What will you do?
75% of people reading this are deficient in magnesium which is needed in over 300 enzymatic functions in the human body, one of which is being the neurological chill switch. Don’t take magnesium citrate, the liquid supplement doctors prescribe to clean you out before your colonoscopy to amend a magnesium deficiency.
Do eat seeds, nuts and beans the most abundant source of magnesium found in nature. Don’t eat anything you’re allergic to. Do take your vitamin D or step outside for 5 to 10 to get you some D, vitamin D that is. Do add Epsom salts to your foot soak or bath, unless you’re diabetic.
Rule: If it doesn’t make you happy, healthy or wealthy, forget it.
I use a different F word than forget, but you get the point. I’m not a self-made bagillionaire, but I can personally tell you that rule took me from my personal rock bottom to a level of pure, sustained happiness that I never knew could exist.
Baby showers – nope.
Toxic friendships – nope.
Gluten – nope.
Pottery – nope.
Wyoming – nope.
Arizona – nope.
Not swearing – nope.
All those no’s have resulted in me living in my purpose experiencing a beautiful life I never could have dreamed of in the best city. My relationships are better, deeper, truer than ever. Every day of my life is better than the last and it’s because I filter EVERYTHING through this rule.
Yes, pick your battles, but more importantly, pick your joy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
See how you’re able to go with the flow from a profound statement to a nutrition topic? Yeah. That’s a great metaphor for the flexibility omega-3 fatty acids lend to your cell membranes. This flexibility of cell membranes in turn improves mental health, cardiovascular health and skin health.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, chia seeds, salmon and ground flaxseed. Unless you’re allergic to one or all of those, then don’t eat them. In that case, and in the case of anyone who cannot consistently get omega-3 fatty acid rich foods in your diet, take a supplement. Unless you’re on blood thinning medications. In that case, speak with your healthcare provider. I am not responsible for anyone bleeding out unless it’s myself or my dog. Your blood is your job.
Cut the Salt
High intakes of sodium increase your blood pressure and emotional tension. It’s this whole long story about sodium-potassium pump and having as many neurons in your abdomen as you do in your brain.
When you go out to eat, those foods are generally high in sodium. I know you were just about to tell me you only eat salad, but I’ll come right back at you with telling you many dressings, croutons, cheeses and salad toppings are high in sodium.
Read labels and do not salt your food. When you are stressed cut WAY back on salt.
Set a firm input policy.
You decide who puts what info in your life and when. No, I am not saying turn off the news or only watch the news that agrees with your opinion. No. Being woke is not an option. I would love to only watch Oprah videos on YouTube until I was no longer referenced as “marginalized.” But information without action is wasted. Information paired with experience and action is wisdom.
I most likely got that from Oprah.
You can get your news through the lens of humor from sources like Trevor Noah and Steve Colbert. That doesn’t make you a bad person or dumb. You can decide to only check your social media and read news articles at the end of your day. You can unfriend, block or unfollow someone on social media who is a bigot.
When you remove something from your life that no longer serves you, you create space for something great to come into your life. Also, mean people suck.
Swap out a minimum of 50% of your Facebook (social media) time for book time. That input exchange can change your entire life. As the average American spends 2 hours a day on social media, that’s 1 hour a day reading.
Find something simple that makes you stupid happy.
I’m going to end it on this before I go on about cutting out toxic food additives, getting more sleep to decrease your cortisol levels, recommend reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong or talk more about Oprah.
Find something simple that makes you stupid happy – the kind of happy that makes you spontaneously squeal. The kind of happy that requires no thought or effort. The kind of happy you feel when you’re stuck in a giggle with your best friend. That burst of happy when you hear a stranger fart and you’ve got to hold in your laughter. THAT kind of happy.
It doesn’t matter what it is. Find something that lights you up for no damn reason and let yourself find joy in that moment.
Allow yourself to be happy despite, not in spite, of everything.