Q. My husband has started traveling for work this year and we have two young children and I work part time. It seems my responsibilities have doubled and I often feel overwhelmed. Although I am competent at my tasks, I still worry that something will go wrong and things will fall apart. This causes me a lot of anxiety, which affects my sleep, ability to concentrate and enjoy time with my children as well as focus at work. Are there ways to deal with these pressures and feel more grounded and confident?
A. Sounds like you have a fair amount of insight into your struggles. Although you sound competent in your various responsibilities, it’s a lot to hold together by yourself, when your husband is away. Is there a way you can increase support, especially while he is away? Of course, other adult family members in the area would be ideal.
There are various ways to feel more centered and less frazzled. Having a simple meditation practice is very helpful. Create a quiet space in your room where you can sit, especially in the mornings for a 15–30 minutes. You can simply start by noticing your breath or repeating a word that is calming for you, such as peace, spacious, or aware.
Walking or sitting in nature is a powerful way of nurturing yourself and feeling connected to the environment. Find a tree, pond or mountain that you are drawn to and focus on it while you notice its effect on your body sensations. Do you notice changes in breathing, tingling, warmth, coolness, tension or relaxation? After a few days of such a practice, you will have more access to an awareness that is less anxious and more grounded.
Feeling overwhelmed has to do with the tasks in front of us. The mind creates an image that is often negative. Then resistance, fear and feelings of being overwhelmed follow. By examining our experiences closely, it is possible to break the familiar mental patterning to make room for new experiences.
Bringing curiosity and awareness to what we are feeling itself has a freeing quality to our feelings. We identify a lot less with our worries and more with our capabilities. This is more expansive and present and less based on the past. Again, notice what’s happening in your body as you perform these inquiries. As your mind changes, you feel more grounded, which will allow more energy to flow within you.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com