On Cold and Coping with Overwhelm

stress management and stress relief for women caregivers momsIt seemed only a few days ago when we celebrated New Year and going full speed with our exciting new goals. Ah, New Year always brings so much hope, energy, and new promises. Then, in what seems like a blink of an eye, we’re at the end of January. This month seemed to have gotten lost in an endless onslaught of snow storms. We’ve had school closings every single week! As I looked out the window, the sky is gray and another snow storm is approaching New Jersey. Sigh.

OK Universe, I get that you’re infinitely abundant. Really, I do. You can stop sending the white fluffy stuff down now. We have more than enough and we thank you!!

In the midst of planning and working on brand new projects, connecting with colleagues and strategic partners, and dealing with the scheduling changes and logistic demands courtesy of snow and ice, our entire family (except my daughter) took turns in a round of stomach flu. Luckily, because of our rather healthy diet and lifestyle, and with the help of Young Living Essential Oils, we all bounced back within a couple days. However, I came down again with a bad cold last week. It coincided with yet another 2-day snow storm, so I took the time to rest and bounced back again quickly.

In my “previous life” as a workaholic, perfectionist, adrenaline junkie who tried to be perfect and do it all, I got my high from completing Mission Impossible at the last minute. I never thought twice about sacrificing my sleep and other self-care routines in the name of getting it done perfectly. It’s quite common that I’d get sick right after a big deadline, or, sometimes even right before that. I also used to get colds, flu and sinus infections all winter long, and migraine was a frequent visitor. I used to pop Advil almost every day and had to take antibiotics quite often. Since I’ve changed my way and am taking better care of myself, I almost never get sick or headaches any more.

Just in case you don’t know, there’s a strong link between stress and your immune function. When you are under stress, whether physical, mental or emotional stress, your body produces stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to help you deal with the crisis. It gives you extra boost of energy and strength for “fight or flight” response. At the same time, your body also turns off the immune system, digestive system and other growth and healing related functions. Cortisol also interferes with sleep, makes you overeat and retains fat in your body. Whether you’re facing real physical danger or a perceived threat (the keyword here is “perceived”), your body responds the same way a caveman did millions of years ago, when being chased by a saber-tooth tiger. Think about it, when you’re about to become dinner of a hungry saber-tooth tiger, you really don’t need to worry about digesting your own food or healing your body, do you?

Now, ponder on this: What would happen to your body if you are chronically under stress and your cells are “marinated” in adrenaline and cortisol?

As I mentioned, I almost never get sick any more. So, when I got sick twice within a month, it really caught my attention. What’s going on? I asked myself. Curious, I turned to Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body, my trusted source for decoding the link between the mental/emotional causes and physical illnesses. I can’t tell you how many times my clients and I looked up the physical symptoms and illnesses in this book, and were shocked by how accurate she is about the possible emotional causes. This time, I looked up “Colds (upper respiratory illness)” and it read, “Too much going on at once. Mental confusion, disorder. Small hurts. or ‘I get three colds every winter’ type of belief.

Ah, too much going on at once. There’s my answer. Since last October, my coach and I have been working on some new programs that I’m very excited about. In the meantime, I’ve attracted a few new opportunities this month alone. In addition, as a proud life-long learner, I’m constantly reading and taking classes. It’s all very exciting, but, they all take up much time and energy. Apparently, too much of a good thing is not necessarily good for you. When I get honest with myself, I realized I’m feeling overwhelmed by all these opportunities. My higher self is trying to tell me to scale back. Now I get it.

Our mind and emotions have tremendous power over our physical body. Sometimes, when our body is feeling neglected, our emotions are not acknowledged, or our higher self is trying to give us a message, and we ignore it, they will have to up the ante and give us a stronger signal — often in the form of a physical illness or injury. I’ve seen this happen over and over in myself, my friends, family and coaching clients. I’ve seen very driven, successful business women get sick or injured all of a sudden, when they are pushing themselves too hard. They wouldn’t slow down or take time for themselves, so, in a way, their body forced them to. Have you experienced this yourself?

One of my previous coaches had an extremely busy year that required a lot of travel. She tripped and fell, and ended up in crutches for 6 months, forcing her to cancel many speaking engagements. A client who is a VP of a large corporation told me that she was always pushing herself so hard, and taking care of everyone else but herself. She said she was extremely stressed and getting increasingly resentful. She is convinced that getting breast cancer is a blessing for her, because it finally gave her an opportunity to slow down and allow others to take care of her for a change. Sounds very extreme, but, she was dead serious when she said that.

Have you gotten sick more often than usual? Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, stop and acknowledge your feelings. Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to handle it all (like everyone else), simply acknowledge your feelings without judgment. Next, take a self-care break to recharge and clear your head. Then you can make better decisions and deal with your situation more effectively.

Here are a few tips for you:

  • Set better boundaries and stick to your priorities. Do you have the tendency to over-commit yourself? Do you have an overflowing plate because you just can’t say no? Then you might want to check out Learn to Say NO, So You Can Say YES to Your Life and my other audio CDs.
  • Learn to Say No Stress Relief CD

  • Be more selective about taking on new projects and tasks. Just because it’s a good opportunity, it does not mean you should automatically say yes. Having more opportunities is not always better. You need to look at your overall vision, plan and goals, both business and personal ones, to determine if a new opportunity fits in or if the timing is right.
  • Allow enough time to work on your current projects. We tend to under-estimate how much time we need to complete our tasks. To avoid overwhelm and running out of time, allow about 1.5 times of your estimate for each project, and start sooner rather than later.
  • Stop trying to do everything yourself. What can you delegate? What can be dumped from your to-do list altogether?
  • Set aside time to center yourself every day. Creativity takes time and clear mental focus. Meditate or simply sit quietly for a few minutes while focusing on your breathing. I also love using Young Living therapeutic-grade essential oils to assist centering myself and getting my creative juices flowing. You can try oil blends such as Clarity, Peace & Calming, Gathering, Inspiration, Motivation, Highest Potential, Magnify Your Purpose, etc. Inhaling or ingesting Peppermint oil will also help oxygenating your brain and give you a boost of mental focus and energy.
  • Avoid information overwhelm. Instead of signing up for more classes and teleseminars that only create more information overwhelm, set a time limit for yourself.
  • Try to eliminate distractions and time-sucking black holes such as emails, social media, and mindless Internet and channel surfing.

In my book Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul: 7 Keys to Nurture Yourself While Caring for Others, I outlined a process called Stop, Drop and Roll out of Overwhelm. It’s key #1 of the 7 keys to creating more peace, joy and time for yourself while caring for others. You can read about the Stop, Drop and Roll process in the free sample book chapters here.

Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Stop beating yourself up!! It’s not serving you or anyone and it won’t help your situation. Practice Intensive Self-Care. Take time for yourself every day. If you do get sick, instead of pushing harder, give yourself permission to rest and fully recover. Your work is not going anywhere. Nobody ever says, on their death bed, that they wish they had worked harder. If you ask someone who has cancer or a major heart attack, they will tell you why. That, my friend, is a lesson I wish you’ll never have to learn first-hand.

About Hueina Su
Hueina Su is an internationally recognized expert in helping heart-centered, successful but exhausted high-achieving professional women break The Good Girl Spell, and find the missing PEACE and BALANCE in their stressful lives. She is an international keynote speaker, certified executive and life coach, best-selling author of Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul: 7 Keys to Nurture Yourself While Caring for Others, and a featured expert in the award-winning transformational movie The Keeper of the Keys along with Jack Canfield, John Gray and Marci Shimoff.

For more information about Hueina’s speaking, coaching, book and other products, visit www.HueinaSu.com

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