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Big Steps are Made Up of Little Ones: Mindful Practices for Dealing with Overwhelm

Hey there, fellow life juggler! If you've ever felt like making progress on your to-do list is like digging through a mountain with a teaspoon, you're not alone. We all experience overwhelm at some point or another. Whether it's mounting pressures at work, relationship challenges, or just the chaos of everyday life, it can start to feel like life is getting away from us.


If you're anything like me, you might have the tendency to freeze up or procrastinate when feeling overwhelmed. It can be tough to make progress on our goals when all we can see are the barriers standing in our way.


But lucky for us, mindfulness can help when overwhelm sets in. Mindfulness teaches us that the power to make progress lies in small, everyday practices that often go overlooked. These little steps can build the bridge to a calmer, more centred you.


1. Breathe, Just Breathe

When overwhelm sets in, and you feel frozen with fear or indecision, sometimes it's best to take things back to basics. The next time you notice that frazzled feeling set in, take a moment to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale slowly for a count of four. Repeat this a few times.


This mini meditation can do wonders. It's like hitting the reset button for your brain, helping to calm the storm and bring you back to the present moment.


2. Break It Down

Ever tried to eat an entire pizza in one go? Probably not the best idea, right? Well, tackling overwhelm is the same. Break your tasks into bite-sized pieces. Write down a to-do list and break it down into smaller, manageable chunks. This not only makes everything feel more doable, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment as you tick things off.


3. Embrace Imperfection

I notice that I often feel the most frozen with overwhelm when I'm afraid of making a misstep or an error. The fearful part of my brain would rather not try at all than try and fail. If this sounds familiar to you, then congratulations, you've internalized toxic perfectionism (no judgement here, I'm working on this too!).


It's so important to remind ourselves that mistakes are how we learn, and failure is how we grow. At the end of the day, small, imperfect, consistent attempts at progress will pay off more than waiting until you finally feel prepared to pull something off "perfectly" (whatever that means!). Practice makes progress, and progress is about showing up consistently, trying our best, and learning from the process of creation itself, instead of hyper-fixating on the finish line.


Let's get one thing straight: you're not a robot. You're human, and that means you're beautifully imperfect. It's okay to not have everything figured out. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow.


4. Unplug and Recharge

In this hyper-connected world, it's easy to feel like you're on an endless treadmill of notifications and updates. Give yourself permission to take some time to unplug from other people's agendas. Turn off your phone, step away from the screens, and do something that rejuvenates your soul. It could be a walk in the park, reading a book, or just sitting in quiet contemplation. Trust me, your emails can wait.


5. Practice Gratitude

When life feels like a whirlwind, it's easy to forget about the good stuff. Take a moment each day to reflect on what you're grateful for. It could be as simple as a warm cup of coffee in the morning, a supportive friend, or the sound of birdsong outside your window. This practice shifts your focus from what's overwhelming you to what's enriching your life.


6. Move Your Body

Exercise is like a magic elixir for your mind. Whether it's a jog, a yoga class, or even a dance party in your living room, moving your body releases those feel-good endorphins that combat stress and anxiety. Plus, it gives you a break from the chaos and a chance to reconnect with yourself (and show off your moves!).


7. Say 'No' with Love

You're not a superhero, and that's perfectly fine. It's okay to say 'no' to things that add more weight to your already full plate. Practice setting boundaries and know that it's not about being selfish, but about preserving your mental and emotional well-being.


8. Connect with Your Breath

Remember that breath we talked about earlier? Well, it's not just for emergencies. Throughout your day, take moments to connect with your breath. Feel it rise and fall, and let it anchor you in the present. It's a reminder that you're alive and capable of handling whatever comes your way. Just like your breath, you're constant, unflagging, steady amidst the ups and downs of life.


The process of dealing with overwhelm is not about taking one giant leap, but rather about taking many small, intentional steps. It's about showing up for yourself, even when it feels uncomfortable. So, the next time life feels like it's spinning out of control, remember: big steps are made up of little ones. You've got this!

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