THE BLOG
01/27/2016 02:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What To Do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

AleksandarNakic via Getty Images

Does the beginning of the New Year overwhelm you a little? Perhaps you started 2016 with that clean slate feel; you released old patterns as we said goodbye to 2015, but now you can't remember that hopeful feeling you had on New Year's Day.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you're not alone.

I feel it, too. The vast expanse ahead, the expectations, the desire to "be better", to "do better," to "look better," to "feel better."

That's a lot of better in one sentence.

If you're anything like me, your mind may be a minefield of what you need to do to succeed.

Add on top of that taking care of others, the emotional work of our lives and relationships, our professional goals, our dreams, our health, sleeping enough, exercising...it's a never-ending hamster wheel of to-do's.

So let's just get off that train, for a minute, for a day, for a week.

Let's find the pause.
Take a breath in. And release.

Let a smile come to your face.
Know that you are enough.
You are brilliant.

Here are 8 ways you can find a weekly pause, or as I like to call it, the 8 M's of Mindfulness.

1. Meditate

Download the Breathe app and find 5 minutes daily (morning, night, on the toilet, on your lunch break) to just be quiet (and meditate). Breathe does the heavy lifting for you; just press play. The more sacred space you create around this, the better -- but if you can't be near your altar or light a candle, just finding some breathing space is perfect.

2. Movement

Find movement once a week. Every body is different, so feel into what works for you. Go on a 10-20 minute stroll. This will get you in your body. It will open up your heart. A walk allows you to be with the world, hear the birds, people watch. If a walk isn't accessible for you, a gentle self-massage or stretch session will help you honor your temple.

3. Masturbate

Make love to yourself once a week (at least). No shame if it doesn't happen, but I highly recommend this ancient practice of pleasure. I believe our sexuality is sacred, as well as sexy. Honor the beauty of your own pleasure.

4. Morning Ritual

Find a morning ritual: making coffee, writing, affirmations, brushing your hair, putting on your make-up. Something that's just for you that you can do daily with love.

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photo by Sofia Rose Smith

5. Make Friends

Reach Out. Have a low key brunch with friends. Call someone. Reach out to those who make you laugh or don't mind if you cry. If you feel lonely and like you don't have good friends, try and go to a Meetup or a coffee shop. Be open to human connection.

6. Make Yoga

Find a yoga practice. This isn't something I talk openly about or advocate, usually. But I have to say that yoga has been one of the most powerful tools in my life since I was a teenager. Saying the word yoga can feel so daunting, so white and thin, so appropriative, and also like something we may have to force ourselves to do in unsafe spaces. But for me, yoga is about finding a home in your own body, finding a connection to Spirit, and calming your mind. It's a medicine with roots in many of our ancestors' lives (the Maya, my ancestors, had a practice of yoga). You can find a ton of free yoga podcasts to try out from the comfort of your own home, too!

7. Make Food

Cook something simple and delicious. There's beauty in nourishing ourselves. There's a sweetness in the slowing down it takes to make a meal: to open the skin of the garlic, to chop the carrots, to stir the miso, to assemble the casserole. Cooking is as ancestral as breathing, and if you have no time for anything above, find time to cook a meal during your week.

8. Make Rest

Sleep in. Go to bed early.

Let these be invitations. Options for what you can do when you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious. Rituals that remind you to slow down and take pause. Take these with you, the 8 M's of Mindfulness:

Meditate, Movement, Masturbate, Morning Ritual, Make Friends,
Make Yoga, Make Food, Make Rest

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes! Comment below with any other rituals you practice that help you when you're feeling overwhelmed.

About the writer:
Sofia Rose Smith is a queer, feminist, intuitive life coach and healer who helps women & queer folks heal burnout, find ritual & joy, and practice radical self-care.

You can find more info about her practice here.