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How overwhelm caused me to have severe health issues

Lisa Hawkins | Oct 28, 2023

I cannot express how important dealing with overwhelm is as it insidiously sneaks up on us. 

In the whirlwind of responsibilities, women often find themselves navigating an energy that can sometimes exert a controlling influence on their relationships. Juggling diverse roles and stretching far beyond one’s capacity becomes an all-too-familiar landscape, especially for single mothers.

This weight can strain relationship dynamics and sow seeds of dysfunction within ourselves.

Please understand, I'm not here to assign blame. It's the excess and lack of boundaries that can pave the way for serious challenges ahead.

This overwhelming sensation propels a continuous cycle, self-perpetuating and elusive. Somewhere within the intricate fabric of our lives or relationships, an imbalance lurks.

Here, deliberate and conscious communication holds the power to bring equilibrium to both life and partnerships.

Over the years, I've observed common traits that can help restore this balance.

In some relationships, partners might not be sharing the load or providing the necessary emotional support. Being conscious of where one's energy is invested becomes pivotal. It's essential to recognize the moments of overwhelming stress.

Expressing the true extent of your exhaustion and overwhelm might not always feel safe. Working on open communication is vital. Society often sets unrealistic expectations for women—excelling as great mothers, supportive partners, successful business runners, all while maintaining a put together woman.

This relentless pursuit can lead to eventual burnout and health issues. I've personally experienced this.

Despite the well-meaning advice on social media to indulge in self-care, the pressure to embody a "Wonder Woman" persona persists.

"Keep going, push through!"—this mantra, while seemingly motivational, brews a recipe for severe overwhelm and exhaustion.

I found myself in this very spiral, one that almost led to a serious state of illness. I was already grappling with other health issues due to unrelenting stress and being overwhelmed.

Life's challenges bombarded me relentlessly, while many dismissed these struggles as commonplace for most women.

Meditation, yoga, relaxing baths—these popular recommendations fell short of addressing the true needs of my body and mind.

To pull out of this abyss, I had to redirect my determination and resilience towards myself. I began vocalizing my needs and demanded from life—health, and time to heal. This wasn't about passively waiting, but an active choice to halt everything when I felt utterly drained and depleted. It was a matter of survival at that point.

I paused everything. I followed Dr. Andrew Huberman's advice and engaged in deep non-sleep rest. Sleep alone couldn’t remedy my overwhelm and exhaustion.

I had to be willing to relinquish everything not directly related to resting, eating, drinking, and breathing. It was a drastic yet necessary step.

An immediate consequence was the gradual withdrawal of some women from my life. Opportunities dwindled as my work suffered or took longer due to my drained energy and weak appearance.

This was because I had disengaged from the "Wonder Woman" archetype. I let go and accepted that I couldn't maintain the facade of having it all together. I had to be okay with that, or else I'd spiral back into overwhelm.

Now, I'm reclaiming my health. I have a supportive circle that values my need for rest and doesn’t expect me to shoulder everything alone.

 Today, my blood work shows signs of robust health, a stark contrast to the past.

Navigating overwhelm is crucial, absolutely crucial! 

Here are the key insights from my journey:

  • Monitor your thoughts, particularly those incessantly revolving around what needs to be done. Learn to intervene and remind yourself, "Right now, all I need to do is breathe."
  • Embrace deep, non-sleep rest. For me, even reading was too strenuous due to sheer exhaustion.
  • Be prepared for things to fall apart. It might provoke tears when relinquishing control and outcomes.
  • Consider therapy or coaching to address underlying patterns driving you to shoulder too much. Uncover the root causes behind this drive.
  • Pause when overwhelmed and question if what you're doing, feeling, or thinking supersedes your health.
  • Treat it with the utmost seriousness.
  • Reach out for help when overwhelmed to the point of feeling disoriented. "I'm overwhelmed and can't think straight." Allow your partner or loved ones to collaborate on solutions. If help isn't forthcoming, let it go. Prioritize self-care as if it's the most crucial thing at that moment—because it is.

Certainly, tackling overwhelm involves much more than just scheduling, time blocking, meditation, and baths. These are merely surface solutions. Dive deep into understanding what you truly need from yourself, your partner, and life to feel complete again.

Sometimes, it's not about doing more to reassemble yourself; it's about daring to stop and unburden yourself.

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