Overwhelmed? Recline Back into the Realm of Logic.

Blog Post Pic - Overwhelmed Recline Back into the Realm of Logic

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Wow. How long is it been since our last blog post? Too long.

Kat here.

The cause for our delay is a common ailment most of us are plagued with daily.

You know the one: waking after a too-short night of restless sleep, beginning our day with a to-do list longer humanly possible to accomplish, then praying that nothing unexpected gets thrown onto our daunting pile.

With that last one, we knock on the wood of our breakfast table as we sip our double espresso, hoping to ward off any bad juju in the off chance someone can hear our thoughts.

Because the unexpected always happens, right? A catalclismic weather event, a heart-pounding family emergency, a five-alarm business fire, a debilitating injury.

Or maybe that’s just our household.

And of course, our gargantuan to-do list is always unattainable. Which means disappointment settles in when we don’t quite get halfway through.

(Stone then gently teases me, calling me an overachiever.)

And maybe therein lies the solution. A dose of humor, making light of reality and gauging what any one person is really capable of doing any given day or with an unexpected set of circumstances.

Why do we get overwhelmed?

Perhaps it’s because we lose focus on the specific task in front of us. Because truly, were we to block out everything else, we would be in a state of mindfulness and most efficient with our thoughts and actions. Getting overwhelmed happens when our mind expands outside of the realm of what is in the here and now into every other thing we have on our plate that day, that week, or maybe even that month with the dominoes that would fall if we don’t get all our tasks done.

Adrenaline starts to kick in, a tornado of helplessness follows, chaotic thoughts of trying to order the most important things to be done, maybe chest tightness from the pressure of tensed muscles, dizziness from the shallow breathing, and quite likely a headache from elevated blood pressure.

What have we learned to do when we get overwhelmed?

Stone: *whispers* Be a little like Spock…

We take a deep calming breath (or a few) and break down the bigger picture from a place of logic. Here are some helpful tips we discovered:

1. Remind ourselves that we are human—most of the overwhelmed feeling that we have is coming from a place of emotion—and give ourselves permission to feel the emotion, whether it’s anger, frustration, helplessness, or disappointment.

2. Make a written list of the tasks we want to accomplish today. Place a star beside the three that are most important. Which one do you want to do next? Depending on your level of energy after the “overwhelmed” breakdown, you may choose the easiest. However some may choose the most difficult, feeling if they can get that hurdle over with, it will be a downhill glide from there. Mark a number “1” beside that next task, then rank the others as numbers “2” and “3”.

3. Rely on the list, get out of our heads, and into accomplishing each task, one at a time.

4. If our minds wander back to the dozens of things we had on our original to-do list, as our darned brains tend to do, forgive the transgression and redirect your focus back to the one thing you’re currently working on.

5. Sometimes the overwhelmed feeling is really a worry about one or more of the things on our list, or the consequences of what happens if we fail. Worry is a tricky thing, one we struggle with every day, but in the context of pulling ourselves out of the “overwhelmed”, the best thing to do is decide whether or not there is any actionable thing we can do in that immediate moment about that worry. If so, we should do whatever we can right then and there, then return back to the task that the worry had interrupted. If there is nothing that can be done, then we need to recognize that the worry is defeating our ability to accomplish our tasks. And move on.

6. Stop making such long to-do lists! No seriously, we should be kind to ourselves about what we can accomplish in a given timeframe. And forgive ourselves for not being machines.

7. Take a ten-minute break. Lay down if you can, claim a section of carpet in your office behind your desk, lie on top of your bed, or find a park bench or wide planter edge that will let you lie prone, close your eyes, and focus on your breaths while clearing your mind. That ten-minute break will go a long way as an investment into accomplishing those tasks on the list.

8. Find ways to ease the burden of the tasks on your list. Software programs, shared carpools for kids activities, outsourcing skills to others better suited to the task while we focus on those activities we’re strongest in.

Did you see what I did there? The above is a solution-based list, stemming from logic.

Not only that, one of the things that overwhelmed me personally has been an ongoing hand injury that has been slow to heal. After repeated urging from Stone, I finally heeded his advice and enacted number “8” on the list and set up the hardware and software to utilize Dragon Naturally, a voice-recognition software program. *smiles* And this blog post is the first published fully dictated item created on Dragon.

As a final note, there’s one last, very big, cause of our stress that leads to our feeling overwhelmed: news of the world at large.

How do we deal with the outer world and learn to be at peace with our place in it?

Simple. Turn off the news and focus on our list.

Do you have any suggestions to add? Any tips or hints on how you deal with pulling yourself out of helplessness? We’d all love to hear from you as we search together for a Zenful Life.

Just a couple of Zenful Lifers,
~ Kat & Stone

 

© 2017 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion

Downshifting into a State of Calm

gearshift picture

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Slow is smooth…smooth is calm.

Stone here.

The phrase actually goes, “Slow is smooth…smooth is fast.” In law enforcement and military, it’s drilled into your psyche during firearms training.

Weapon in hand, arm extended, sights lined up, a sharp, steady, slow focus makes all the difference between clean shots, center mass and far-and-wide WTFs. The original mantra is meant to downshift us, removing the building panic that can overwhelm and trip us up, leading to mistakes–sometimes fatal ones.

Earlier this week, I lost patience with my computer–yes, I know, not exactly life or death–and rapid-clicked the damn slow mouse until the system froze. Frustrated, I took a deep breath, exhaled, then reminded myself, “Slow is smooth…smooth is calm.”

That’s my new mantra.

Focusing on a downshifting mantra helps us slow down and regain control in an instant. Typically, when it’s needed the most. A redirect into mindfulness.

What’s yours?

Just a couple of Zenful Lifers,
~ Kat & Stone

 

© 2017 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion

Hidden Beauty in a Shifted Perspective

 

Blog Post Pic of Old Barn Ready to Fall Over

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Stone: How do I look at the world and not want to fix everything?

Staring out the window at one of a handful of problems in our hundred-yard sightline, it was a question asked a few weeks back…one we’ve been working to answer daily since.

In a world of a million problems, some great and life-threatening, others slight and irritating, how many issues are we aware of that we’re helpless to resolve? What can we do to accept that we can’t fix everything? Sometimes, we may even be powerless to fix one thing.

How do we see the beauty in the world through a broken lens?

What if we shifted perspective?

Gaze out from where you are.

What do you see?

A smoker flicking a cigarette into your landscaping as they walk by? A pile of steaming dog shit on the sidewalk? Your neighbor’s rusty derelict car decorating their front lawn?

What do you hear?

The oblivious diner sitting two tables away almost shouting into their cell phone.

Kat: *mutters* They can hear you. We all can hear you.

Or a distant bass boom, growing louder, and louder, until sixty seconds later, your heart reverberates in your chest to the deafening decibels of some inconsiderate driver’s beat…only to have it fade by the time you’re wide awake…at 2:30 a.m.

What about today’s news?

How many millions of refugees are country-less? How many people die daily from famine? What about human trafficking? Community homelessness? Senseless violence? Or the daily barrage of news-cycle sensationalism about who Tweeted what. Really?

Stone: How does all that go with Zenful Life?

Right. Back to the shifted perspective…

Look again.

Listen again.

What do we see if we focus on the rest of the picture?

The decaying barn might be falling, but it’s happening in the middle of a flowering meadow, flanked by towering pine trees, under a blue wispy-clouded sky.

We’re learning step by step, day by day, that with each startling bad thing we’re exposed to, it takes dedicated mindfulness to focus on the positive, on the beauty.

A few things we’ve learned to help us see beauty in a harsh and unforgiving world:

  1. Recognize what broken issue needs immediate action, then provide it: a phone call to an aiding authority, a lending hand, or helpful advice.
  2. Once action has been taken, move on. Be mindful, right in the present moment, seeking to enjoy it.
  3. If we find ourselves dwelling on past events, we gently correct the misstep. A helpful phrase we came up with to help guide us back into the present moment is, “If it’s out of our hands, it should be out of our minds.”
  4. Extend love, acceptance, and kindness to ourselves and others. The world is imperfect. We are imperfect. If we do the best we can with each moment of each day, little by little our world becomes a better place.

Our experiences begin to flow like the well-known Serenity Prayer…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Beauty often lies in that wisdom.

 

Any other thoughts, ideas, suggestions? We’d love to hear them.

 

Just a couple of Zenful Lifers,
~ Kat & Stone

 

© 2017 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion