My coaching client (let’s call her Yvette) is a smart, high-achiever. She’s super successful professionally, and a committed wife and mother as well. Problem is, she just can’t find time for herself. Her days are packed, and she’s running on empty. She’s exhausted, overwhelmed, and overeating. She came to our first appointment frustrated with herself because she couldn’t see a way out of the cycle of stress, overwhelm, and overeating she felt trapped in.
Yvette was stress eating, and her emotional eating left her feeling out of control and “like a constant failure” (in spite of her huge professional successes). She constantly felt behind and unable to catch up. This was taking a toll on her confidence and she wondered out loud if she could ever take charge and feel effective.
When I asked her how she was feeling, Yvette said, “I don’t even know.” She had been so busy “doing” her life, she was disconnected from herself. She was living in her brain and not her body and she wasn’t connected at all to her emotions, her needs, or her real levels of hunger.
This isn’t uncommon. It sometimes happens to me when I get overloaded and I’m betting you can relate a bit too.
This disconnection leaves us frazzled and empty and overwhelmed and causes emotional eating, numbness, procrastination and a loss of focus–among other delightful symptoms.
When we feel like we’re spinning out of control, a common mistake is believing that the solution is to run faster so that we can catch up. It doesn’t work and only makes the vicious cycle worse. The real solution is figuring out a way to stop spinning—or get grounded and connect with ourselves again—so that we can move forward deliberately.
Getting grounded and reconnected was the first step for this client – it’s always the first step.
When Yvette and I began to explore the things that help her feel anchored, she landed on some strategies that she had used in the past—they only took a few minutes but involved time alone, breathing deep, and being present in the moment.
She agreed to try them out for no more than five minutes over the next few days. The next time we talked (by phone), I could hear the relief and the smile in her voice. “The results were immediate—and that really surprised me,” Yvette said. She then reported that in the week since we talked, she felt less stressed, more rested, and happier. Even though she was taking a bit of time out, she was getting more done and felt like she was handling tough situations with more calm. Yvette was amazed that her mindless overeating – the autopilot eating that had been so frustrating to her – was almost nonexistent.
Knowing how to ground and connect with yourself is one of the most empowering things you can do but it’s a strategy busy women often skimp on.
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1. Set a timer for 60 seconds, sit back in your chair, close your eyes, place your hand over your heart, and just breathe and feel your heart beat.
This works for me because it slows me down and gets me out of my head and into my body. It connects me to what I am feeling, both physically and emotionally and this connects me to what I need for me. Am I hungry? Thirsty? Tight and needing a break to stretch out my shoulders? I know at the end of the minute.
2. Imagine a place that is peaceful, safe, relaxing, and happy. Give yourself a one-two minute vacation.
Kick back, close your eyes, and imagine yourself there. I’ve worked with multiple clients who have actually learned to lower their blood pressure using just this simple technique.
3. Get into your body.
You don’t need to do a long vigorous workout (although these can be great too). Stand up tall and adjust your posture. Stretch or do some yoga poses. Pay attention to how your body feels. You have to be aware of your physical self to be grounded.
4. Unplug. If the TV is always on, turn it off.
When I am stressed, I go for a run – alone and with no music. I let my brain rest and I pay attention to me. I’m always amazed at how therapeutic this is. Try a mindful walk (no headphones), a mindful cup of tea (no phone, no book), or a peaceful ten minutes sitting quietly outdoors.
5. Do something—anything—with your full attention.
Wash the dishes and concentrate on being fully aware of the warm soapy water and the feel of the dishes. Weed for five minutes and focus on being completely present in the moment. Mindfully shampoo your hair. When I’m stressed, I go for simple and a few minutes of absolute focus can really calm me down and refocus me.
My challenge to you: pick a few grounding strategies to try and give yourself permission to stop long enough to use them. Once you find what works for you, don’t expect yourself to always remember to use them. Instead, create rituals and routines that allow you to include these in your busy life on a consistent basis.
Take good care,