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  • Caroline Langston

Things Which Can Be Done To Help When Feeling Overwhelmed.

I had several things go wrong at the beginning of last week all of which were quite serious, but also completely beyond my control. For a very short time my brain decided to go on shutdown.



I am an Executive and Personal Development Coach. I think I am a reasonably intelligent person who deals with stuff well. I had never experienced this before and it frightened me. Luckily, as I said, I’m a Coach. I have a toolkit and a number of questions which I can ask myself to start moving forwards. What did I do to pull myself out of this?


I changed physical state

The area that I usually sit in to work became a place that I had associated with one of the incidents happening. I moved away from the space, firstly went for a walk, and then sat down away from the space and mentally made a list of the best things I could do right there and then to make myself feel better. As it turned out at that moment in time the best thing for me to do was to sit down, switch off my brain and immerse myself in another world. I sat down to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Knowing that I didn’t have to be in that place and moving into another place completely mentally and physically was essential for me to start understanding where I needed to be to feel differently.


I have also used physical exercise or some kind of movement every day to help me reframe and change focus. When you go into feeling overwhelmed, frightened, or panicked, this is a fight or flight response and your body takes a large proportion of your blood from your non-essential operating system and organs (including your brain) to your muscles to get ready to do one or the other fight or run away. Therefore getting up and moving helps increase your circulation, move that blood from the muscles, increasing blood flow back to your brain so that you can start making better decisions.


I wrote stuff down

While I was sitting on the sofa I started writing out a doable action plan that I was in control of that I knew I would be able to execute. You can use writing in many ways. You may want to write down how you’re feeling. You may write down how you want to be. For me writing a plan of small steps I could definitely carry out was very important. This helped me move into a resourceful and creative state looking at possibility.


I spoke to someone

It can be really difficult to say out loud how you are feeling. I do not often talk in much depth about what I am really thinking or feeling, especially when it’s more serious. I usually turn from my extroverted self into a huge introvert and cannot speak to anyone. However, for me, last week, having the ability to verbalise what I was thinking and feeling helped and allowed the people around me to understand and do what they can to help me during this time. If you really cannot speak to anyone try saying the words out loud on your own. This may help as well.


I practiced self focus and mindfulness every single morning when I woke up.

Simply paying attention to my breathing and being in that moment scanning my body from head to toe, relaxing and really focusing on my breath in my body really helped. I also then imagined a positive place where I could be and placed myself there. Thinking about how this would look, how that would feel what I would say and what I would hear in that positive place. I did this for around 20 minutes every morning when I woke. When I got out of bed I always felt better. When I have been out walking I also look at my surroundings, listen to what’s happening mindfully taking notice of what is happening around me and within me. Focusing and paying attention deliberately to now.


I changed my internal self talk.

I had a deep conversation with myself about what I was going to do to move towards my positive outcome. I repeated this to myself again and again. How I was going to do it, what I was going to do and what the outcome would be. I choose to move towards the outcome that I want.


I thought about being able to let go of certain aspects of what was happening in order to move forwards. I needed to let go of the fear of all the areas I could not control and move towards what I can control with my positive outcome in focus. Along with clarity and the intent to succeed.


This reframing of my situation allowed me to become fully functional in a very short period of time. If you are in a place where you are feeling overwhelmed, of course seek professional help if you need it and can access this. If you really can’t, then using some or all of these techniques may help.


I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Take care everyone.


Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an executive, personal and career development coaching company in Hong Kong, with her partner Patrick Bennett founding the practice in New York. She is also the Founder of Recruiters Give Back, a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is a Certified Professional Coach at International Coaching Federation standards. Certified Team Coach and is also degree qualified with further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com www.recruitersgiveback.org

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