Coping with Overwhelm

You found out you didn’t follow procedures for sending the secure email and now the entire process needs to be restarted.  Again.  You didn’t double check your suitcase and forgot your cell phone charger AND your asthma prescription for your week-long business trip.  Ugh.  You finally decide to refinance your home and the list of items you have to complete is daunting.  Sigh.  You are in the throes of overwhelm and it can be paralyzing. Whoa!


My husband, dog and I have been in the middle of The Bureaucracy of Overwhelm after our home was flooded a few weeks back.  Moving out, moving into temporary housing, contacting FEMA, SBA, our Insurance Company, Mortgage Company, Contractor, Debris Bins…the list is overwhelming.  Endless. Ceaseless.  I am not saying that I have handled this without any stress or crying, but the coping is getting easier.


So this is what I have learned about coping with overwhelm:


  • As Creighton Abrams famously said, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  I had three (yes, three!) clients have this exact same insight this week.  One was refinancing a home, another was planning on selling a home and a third was working on a big project.  We all cope with the overwhelm of a big project.  It’s so important to break it down.  I felt like the universe was giving me a hint with the three separate clients all quoting the same quote.  I learn more from their insights than my own.  So what did I do?  I focus on one agency a day.  FEMA one day, SBA the next, the mortgage company the day after that.  It’s too overwhelming to deal with all of them at one time.  Break it down into manageable pieces.


  • So what do you do if your routine was to meditate and take a 30-minute walk before the flood?  You need to be meditating and taking a 30-minute walk after the flood.  Even if you are in a new place, and you don’t know where you want to walk or what space you want to meditate in, figure it out.  Develop and adapt to get your routine back in place.  We’ve been living in temporary housing for exactly a week and I finally used this fabulous routine that my friend Susannah recommended called “Qi Gong: 7 Minutes of Magic (for Health).”  I had been using it every morning pre-flood.  Now I need to add it back into my routine post-flood.  It is magic.  Put your routine back together to help alleviate the stress of overwhelm.


  • For the past year, I have been trying to move from scarcity to abundance.  I had committed to golfing in a charity golf tournament pre-flood, but had not yet written the check.  The tournament was a week post-flood.  I wavered.  A hundred and fifty dollars is a hundred and fifty dollars.  But I was coming from a place of abundance.  “I always have money coming my way.”  I wrote the check.  We played and had a great time.  It felt so much better than cowering at home gnashing my teeth, hoping for an insurance adjuster or FEMA representative to show up.  Fire up your internal flame for abundance.


  • It’s amazing how we are surrounded by wonderful, caring people.  We have had countless offers of support, whether it was moving debris, moving out, financial help, offers of temporary housing and even gift cards for dinner.  I knew that everyone was supportive, but when there is a disaster and there are so many that are worse off than us (at least we had a roof over our head for the first few weeks post-storm), it is humbling to receive so many offers of  help and support.  Being grateful is a much better space for me to be in mentally than the “Why did this happen to me?” headspace.  Remain positive and you’ll reduce the overwhelm.


  • I really could not have survived all the overwhelm without the love and support of my family.  My husband and I are constantly taking stock of each other.  “I couldn’t do this without you.”  “I love you so much for being there.”  “I can’t believe you took care of the debris bin.”  My son drove all the way from Miami to help us move out and my daughter came home to move her belongings after being ill.  My husband has gone from a king size bed to a queen.  Two bathrooms to one.  His own office to sharing a computer in our living room.  They went above and beyond out of love.  Love helps me cope.


As my husband said yesterday, “I’ve never gone through anything like this.”  I responded by giving him a big hug.  I recognized the experience of feeling overwhelm but getting through it together…..priceless.

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