• Becca Schwenk

5 Ways to Soothe your Overwhelm

Updated: May 3

These days, our physical worlds are more compact. A single dedicated space now houses a lot more than we ever thought it would. Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by an over-steeped bag of tea.

As we move our hot beverages from windowsill, to bedside, to the drain when the time-sensitive heat factor slips our minds and lukewarm chai doesn’t carry the same comfort; we tow along mixed bags of emotion.


And while sometimes we love a mixed bag, sometimes they’re just not ideal (read: off brand trail mix). This melange of feels in conversation with one another tends to bring up one feeling to overthrow them all: overwhelm. It seems COVID-19 has created the perfect climate for communal overwhelm – and that can be difficult to soften.


We’re with you: overwhelmed as ever, so ready to dismantle anything that doesn’t serve us (not just feelings – we’re looking at you too, systemic oppression). Since distancing is our new routine, and we love a little disruption, we thought it best to chip away at overwhelm in community. Here are 5 ways we’ve come up with:


1. Accept some stillness

In any given moment, if neither our body nor our mind is in motion, a colonial-capitalist dream dramatically implodes. Although our physical spaces are limited, when we’re not going anywhere we actually have more time in the day. Contrary to indoctrinated calls for productivity, taking this time just to be and hang out helps soothe our nervous system.


2. Make a stream of consciousness word puddle

While overwhelm may be the most immediate and visceral mood, once it’s unpacked it’s a lot easier to give the other emotions due weight. Write down every feeling that comes up. Grief, guilt, power, nourishment, disappointment… They can coexist, but they tend to work better together when we name them so we really know what we’re dealing with.


3. Change up your look

And by that we mean cut your own bangs. KIDDING, you’ve probably already done that. Kidding again, that is dangerous territory for most. One amazing thing about staying home is getting to wear what you want. Maybe you’re living in loungewear in lieu of business attire. Maybe you miss crafting an accessorized masterpiece. Either way, it can feel good to switch it up even if you aren’t going to see anyone. Different fabrics and colours can feel soothing, motivating, grounding. And the mirror can be a reliable source of self-loving validation.


4. Clean up your social media

Many of us follow questionable accounts that we love to hate. Sometimes their content lights a fire beneath us, sometimes it’s critically-engaging. But when it’s contributing to our already overwhelmed psyche, it’s helpful to mute or unfollow – even if temporarily. Scrolling in peace is an underratedly blissful feeling. 20 minutes of social cleaning can make distant-connection much more enjoyable.


5. Become everyone’s favourite penpal

Contribute to the wholesome resurgence of letter writing. Check in on your loved ones, maybe sketch a memory you’ve shared, and safely send it away. The sheer cuteness of this act is soothing in itself.


Even with these 5 tricks for bringing overwhelm to a simmer, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, that’s okay too! Sometimes it can be good to sit with those feelings. But when you need a solid breather, these tips have helped us immensely. What are some ways that you’ve been soothing your overwhelm?


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The making of this conference, and the broader work of Cicely Blain Consulting and our co-conspirators takes place on stolen, unceded, and occupied Indigenous land including, but not limited to the land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. 

© 2019-2020 Stratagem. Brought to you by Cicely Blain Consulting.

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