More and more people are feeling overwhelmed, but meditation offers a solution, and as an expert meditation coach, I’m here to help you.
Whether you’re emotionally overwhelmed or overwhelmed at work, it shows. Things that usually don’t bother you, like being unable to find your keys, suddenly make you feel intense anger. Little wrongs, like your significant other not calling you, make you an emotional mess. You’re short-tempered. Basically, you’ve had enough. That’s what it feels like to be overwhelmed.
The feeling of being overwhelmed can strike at any time, and often unexpectedly . Sometimes it comes from a major event in your life, such as the death of a loved one. But it can also be caused by a long string of small stressors that snowball out of control. You miss the bus, you’re late to work, your boss notices you coming in late and criticizes you, your colleagues see and you feel embarrassed, now you’re stressed and it affects how you work so you make a bunch of mistakes, you get angry and say something you regret that massively impacts your position at work… it all adds up to make you feel overwhelmed.
Truth is, we all experience moments of overwhelm in our lives. But how we react to it is everything. If you react to overwhelm in a positive way, it will probably stop soon enough. If you react badly, it could lead to a series of events that leave you with burnout and have a significant effect on your life.
But just how, exactly, can you respond to being overwhelmed in a positive way? It’s a challenge. Try the following meditation for overwhelm.
Meditation for Overwhelm
How Meditation Helps When Overwhelmed
Modern life is, by its very nature, overwhelming.
According to Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, modern life is so complicated that most people feel “in over our heads” and it’s affecting our happiness and our performance. Being overwhelmed is making us slower, more forgetful, and often exhausted. But we can change.
Indeed in my lessons I have been able to help many people to overcome overwhelm, such as Barry, an executive who was so overwhelmed he feared to even look at his inbox, but together we made a few lifestyle changes that put him back in comfortable control of his career and his life.
Yes, we can overcome overwhelm and there are many ways to do so. For instance, just choosing one or two unessential tasks to take off your plate can make a huge difference, as can setting boundaries and learning to break hefty tasks into more manageable steps. But for me, the number one solution is to use meditation for overwhelm.
Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on specific things (such as the breath) in order to produce certain physiological benefits (such as relaxation). And it can have a wonderful effect when you feel overwhelmed. Indeed there are many reasons why meditation helps when feeling overwhelmed.
For starters, meditation is incredibly relaxing. When we meditate we activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest system) which produces feelings of calmness. You can literally feel this transformation taking place as you meditate, it’s like a wave of calmness washing over you. While meditating you also balance neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and all of that helps us to balance our emotions and to reduce stress.
Meditation is also very beneficial for information overload, which you are probably suffering from if you are overwhelmed. This is actually one of my favorite aspects of meditation; it gives the mind some quiet time that is like a mini-vacation away from all the noise. Not only does this quiet time help the mind to heal, but it also gives the brain time to process information, which helps you to make decisions, to release built-up information, and to work more effectively.
Finally, meditation makes you more productive so you can actually get things done. If you are suffering from overwhelm, you probably have a backlog of tasks you need to complete, but your stressed mind Is struggling to get things done. Because meditation reduces stress and increases concentration, it makes us more productive. That means that by spending ten to twenty minutes meditating, you will be more likely to complete any leftover tasks that you have on your To Do list.
But how do you meditate when you’re feeling so overwhelmed? This is actually one of the main things that I do in my lessons. I help people to meditate when they think it is impossible, and I have special and highly effective meditations for handling overwhelm. But to help get you started, I’ll share one of my meditations, along with some tips.
How To Use Meditation When Overwhelmed
1: Focus on simplicity: If you are feeling overwhelmed it means that you are struggling with the complexity of your current situation. The solution to complexity is simplicity. Therefore, focus on doing just the simplest of meditation techniques, such as mindful breathing, taking a mindful walk, or mantra meditation.
2: Go easy on yourself: Because you are feeling overwhelmed, your mind will race and you certainly will be distracted by thoughts when you try to meditate. That’s fine. Just go easy on yourself. Do not judge yourself for having imperfect focus. Realise that you’ve been through a lot and so your mind is full of thoughts. Do continue to meditate, but do not be a perfectionist about it.
3: Meditate more frequently but for shorter durations: Because you are overwhelmed, when you try to meditate you will experience thoughts like “I’m not doing enough, I can’t just sit here meditating, I need to do X, Y, Z.” If you try to fights these thoughts, things will just get worse. Instead, opt to do shorter meditations (ten minutes or even just five minutes) a few times a day rather than one long session.
4: Remember that meditating will make you more productive: You will feel inclined to stop meditating and to get up and focus on your To Do list. But that would be a mistake. While your mind is wracked with thoughts you are unproductive. Remember that by spending ten minutes meditating you will make yourself more productive for the rest of the day. Hence, you are not losing time by meditating, you are actually gaining time.
5: Meditate somewhere relaxing: If possible, get away from your home and from work when you meditate. Go sit somewhere different, somewhere neutral. That is, a place that you have not filled with mental associations and memories. A local park is a good choice. You do not want to be surrounded by reminders of all the things you need to do. You want to be somewhere calming instead.
Many people today are suffering from overwhelm because of the complexity of life. If you are feeling stressed, tired, riddled with thoughts, and wondering if you’re ever going to get it all done, then you might be overwhelmed. If so, the meditation for overwhelm above can help. Focus on easy meditations such as the guided meditation for overwhelm that we did above. And for my help, book a lesson with me today.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison