Before checking the news next, try this out. Ask yourself, “Which circle am I in?” The answer will help you determine whether it’s useful to engage in news updates or not. Here’s how to know:
Though different for everyone, some signs of overwhelm could be:
- Feeling flooded with emotion, often challenging emotions
- Body posture is tense/tight, (maybe even body aches or pain)
- The mind may be racing and/or thoughts may be fear-based or reactionary
When we become overwhelmed—and let’s face it, we all do from time to time—we must go all the way back to safety and hang out here until our physiology recovers. We cannot go from Overwhelm to Challenge. Safety is the foundation for learning. Then, the amygdala calms and the prefrontal cortex comes back on line. In other words, coming back to safety actually resets the brain’s ability to learn. Read more about how to find safety below.
Consideration: It’s worth noting that now is a time when many of us are experiencing overwhelm. This is why it’s so important to be extra diligent about self-care. And if you are noticing frequent or constant overwhelm, connecting with a healthcare professional can really help.
The circle, as illustrated above, is where we learn the most. Signs of challenge include:
- Being engaged and receptive to learning
- The ability to actively integrate what you are learning into daily life
- Posture is alert rather than rigidly tense
- Mind is more open, and open to possibility rather than constricted
Consideration: It’s helpful to notice where you are within the challenge circle—closer to safe or closer to overwhelm? If close or moving towards overwhelm, it is skillful to move back to safety. We don’t have to ride the edge of overwhelm to learn and grow. Can you take a more self-compassionate stance and stay solidly in the challenge circle, with a bit of a buffer between challenge and overwhelm?
When in this circle, there is a sense of comfort, calmness and ease in the body and mind. Safety has that feeling/sound of a deep exhalation, “Ahhhhhhh.” While holding back from engaging sometimes happens here, keep in mind this circle is the foundation of learning, and it’s really helpful to know how to move to this circle.
Consideration: Not sure of how to create safety? Try taking care of yourself in a way that creates a sense of well-being (having a warm cup of tea, feeling the soles of your feet ground you, connecting with a friend, watching puppies on youtube!, etc). Below is a list from the MSC program with some ways to practice behavioral self-compassion so you can get back to safety. Take some time to experiment with these, and notice what feels good in your own body and mind.