Director's Message: How do you handle being overwhelmed?

Take this quiz to see if you are connecting with what has meaning in your life.

When you're overwhelmed, it's easy to feel powerless and immobile. Everything feels too big. It's not just everyday busyness and packed schedules. When you're overwhelmed, making it to work on time or just making dinner become monumental efforts. Take the Thriving quiz below to see how well you've learned to deal with being overwhelmed.

True or False

1. I try to remember that I don't have to do everything myself. I ask others for help and gather a support team around me.

2. As often as I can remember, I have stopped for a moment and taken several deep, relaxing breaths.

3. I just say no to new requests for my time, and I try to renegotiate previous commitments so that I can regroup.

4. I resist the frantic voice inside that yells, "You don't have time!" and take a little break to sit or lie down for a bit, because I know it will make me feel as though I actually have more time.

5. I watch a funny video. (Laughter has a very positive effect on brain chemistry.)

6. I light a candle and keep it near me.

7. I go outdoors for a few moments or even a few hours. Taking time to notice the glorious details of nature — a leaf, a snowflake, a ladybug — is very regenerative.

8. Even if for only 10 minutes, I do some form of movement — dancing, jogging, walking, or jumping jacks. (Exercise increases adrenaline and endorphins, the body's natural antidepressants.)

9. When I need to drown out the negative chatter in my overwhelmed state, I sing quietly or hum to myself. It soothes me and helps me focus on "one step at a time."

10. I meditate or pray each morning. This keeps me tethered to myself during the times I'm overwhelmed and want to scatter my energy to the wind.

11. I write in my journal as fast as I can for 15 minutes without editing or judging; this "brain dump" helps clear my mind and move away from being overwhelmed.

12. On my walks (with the dog or alone), I whisper to myself all the things for which I forgive myself.

13. I keep a list of all the things that help me reconnect with myself, that help me recollect and refocus my energy inside, so that when I feel overwhelmed, I can remind myself of things that have worked in the past.

Overcoming being overwhelmed isn't really about measuring accomplishment. It's about connecting with what has meaning for us, and with what feeds and enlivens us. Feeling connected then connects us to the natural fuel for getting things done.

Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

Director's Note: I invite you to participate in a wellbeing study. Learn about yourself and what you need to thrive in these crazy unsettling times. You can join the study in June 2009. It's completely anonymous and easy to do. The study code for dental professionals is "oral health." Click to learn more.

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