Overwhelmed and exhausted? Check your boundaries!

“Boundaries are, in simple terms, the recognition of personal space.” 
Asa Don Brown

I woke, overwhelmed and panicked, at 3am on Monday morning.

This isn’t usual for me. I’m by nature calm, centred and strong.

I knew part of why I was awake. An old friend had died the day before in an accident – and the news had left me shocked and upset. Apart from that I’ve got some pressing deadlines right now and I’ve had too much on my plate. We have ongoing family worries. Some of the people around me haven’t been carrying their share of the load, leaving me stressed and with more work to do and more decisions to make.

This is a week whose energies suit focus and mindfulness. I decided yesterday to revisit my priorities, to delegate more work, to clear a few more things from my to-do list or postpone them. I thought I’d sorted things out. I felt much better in myself.

And then I woke again this morning at 2am, crippled by anxiety.

Why, Nicole? I asked myself. What’s going on?

I meditated, which helped a little, and then sat down at my desk. And there was the problem…

Thirteen new facebook messages since 6pm with people asking for advice, guidance or support. Three of them serious, urgent issues. Twenty-seven new emails of the same nature. Six of those equally serious. Two urgent text messages on my phone. Somehow, over the past two years I have become an unofficial emergency help-line for my community and beyond.

It’s an avalanche of desperation, and I can’t keep up, although I have been trying.

As I deal with these urgent messages my own work is lagging behind, my own life is being relegated to second place. Or third. And none of that work is paid.

While I sat at my desk in the cold, lonely hours – overwhelmed by the pain of others, and my need to help everyone as best I could – I realised that my tank was almost empty. I’m neglecting my own relationships, needs and well-being to tend to the needs of others.

And I knew then what I needed to do.

I need to find a better way. A better way to help. Better boundaries for me. Some new fences and gatekeepers. A bigger team.

I knew I’d come to my truth because the sense of relief and clarity was palpable.

So this morning I’m asking you the same questions. Because I’m worried about you. Because I know you’re like me and you’re feeling it too:

  • Where do you need to build new fences?
  • Where do you need to create or maintain boundaries?
  • How can you find more time just for you?
  • What do you need to start doing differently, in order to make your life work better?

This is the only precious life you get – this one will never come again. And your wellbeing is tied to boundaries as much as it is also tied to living with an open heart.

I’m holding you in my prayers and meditations, and sending you so much love,

Please accept my apologies if I haven’t answered your message. I’m swamped. There is only one of me, and I just can’t keep up. Let me find a better way for us, okay?
All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Breathe in, Breathe out…

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” 
~  Amit Ray

 

One of my favourite stress-busters is breathing.

That may sound simple, and it is.

Anxious, worried, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, overcome, swamped, exhausted, defeated?

Try this.

Breathe in slowly and mindfully. Close your eyes if it helps.

Hold for just a second with your lungs full. There’s a tiny point of calm there. (Try it and you’ll see for yourself.)

Breathe out slowly until your lungs are empty. Hold for just a moment. There’s that same tiny point of calm again, and a sense of being grounded back into your body. (It might be fleeting, you might need a few slow deliberate breaths but you’ll find it.

Breathe in again slowly and mindfully. Pause for a moment. Breathe out fully. Pause.

Begin again.

With each conscious breath cycle you can incrementally calm your body, relax your mind, bring your scattered energy back to whole.

It only takes a minute, but it can make a world of difference when life gets all too much.

It’s one of my favourite coping strategies, especially when life is fraught and stressful and I still need to be present and to carry on. It’s also great to calm you before sleep.

Sending so much love your way, and my intention that you find your feet on that path back to inner peace today, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Mala Beads – How To Be Calm Anywhere!

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
~ Pema Chödrön

 

 

Sometimes I find myself in stressful situations or noisy places where I want to calm myself, soothe anxiety or practice mindfulness, and where my normal meditation techniques aren’t effective or appropriate.

Take travel for example. Travel can mean crowded airports, uncertain schedules, crazy traffic, and jet lag to name a few common stressors. It’s not always possible to find a quiet corner, or to sit down, close my eyes and zone out.

When I travel I always wear a mala beads around my neck, or as a bracelet. It looks like fashion, but it is very functional fashion. I can discretely slip my mala off and then work the beads between my fingers.

This technique has worked miracles for me as I have sat stuck in an airport with a flight delay, or in an airplane during heavy turbulence, or in a hotel room where I can’t sleep.

As I roll each mala bead between my thumb and first finger I have a few simple options for my meditation. Here are my top four:

  1. For each bead I can consciously breathe in and then out, after which I move to the next bead and repeat. This is brilliant as a sleep aid. Sometimes I breathe in light and exhale grey – and I see the grey as fatigue, illness or worry leaving my body. Gradually the light fills me up and I come back to calm again. If you suffer from panic attacks this is great for you!
  2. For each bead I can pray for someone like this; ‘Imogen, I pray for you. I intend for you flow, health, grace, love and miracles. (or I might hold an intention for a specific healing outcome, which I name by saying ‘I intend for you ________’) Bless you.’ Then I hold their face in my mind’s eye as I breathe in and out, consciously sending love and energy to them.
  3. For each bead I can repeat a simple affirmation. One of my favourites, and the one that has been the most transformative for me over time is: ‘I love and approve of myself.’ If I am super anxious I affirm: ‘I am watched over and cradled in love. I am safe and all l is well.’
  4. For each bead I hold the face of a loved one, friend or client in my mind. Silently I say ‘I love you. I wish you well. Bless you.’ And then I move onto the next bead, choose a person and repeat the process.

I finish every round of my mala (from the marker bead or tassel, around the mala and back to the beginning) by saying ‘And it is so. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

Many of you may already have a mala that you wear as a decorative item. Some of them are so pretty! But I promise you, the real value is in using them as a focus tool for a pathway to calm in even the most stressful situations.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole <3 xoxo

 

Here’s a little video of my silently praying my mala yesterday while I waited for my shuttle ride to take me to the airport: