The stifling heat seems an appropriate backdrop as we feel our way into freedom.

Freedom at any time is a funny beast, often accompanied by a frisson of fear (apologies for my overindulgence in alliteration)

“What price will I pay for this freedom? And can I truly allow myself to enjoy the thing I crave so badly?”

Freedom from Covid restrictions seems more than usually hard to embrace, coming as it does with uncertainty around infection vs hospitalization numbers, vaccine efficacy, not to mention the logistical and financial effects of isolation on our workplaces and businesses.

We all cope differently but if you’re feeling a little more anxious than normal, I’d say that’s understandable, and a reasonable reaction given the circumstances. You may have concerns about work, children, parents, finances, your own health, things which on their own wouldn’t throw you but feel overwhelming when they arrive together.

This isn’t a time for platitudes and vague advice. It is also not a time to be pushing through because ‘There is no time for self-care’. That might work for a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks but there will likely be a pay back in the form of physical or emotional exhaustion, illness, or just an inability to be as you’d like.

You may not be able to change your external circumstances but there may be pockets of time in which you are able to influence your emotional state.

If possible, cross items out your diary under the heading of ‘things that can wait or are not so important right now’. Look at your week and highlight moments, however fleeting where you can stop. Half an hour is great, 5 minutes is better than nothing. These are opportunities to break the cycle and pause to regulate emotions such as fear, uncertainty and worry that can escalate to panic.

How you fill those moments is up to you. I have some suggestions and you will have ideas of your own. The actual activity isn’t so important, the act of doing something, is crucial.


I know you’ve heard this one soooo many times, breathing exercises are perhaps the most obvious and frequently recommended activity for managing overwhelm. Like paracetamol, also often derided, breathing exercises are easily accessed and very effective if used well. Five breaths, belly breathing, square breathing, in my opinion it doesn’t matter. All are very effective at downregulating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a great option for those few moments between patients.

Bridging Rituals

Many of you will have heard me reference these before. They are small conscious activities that help you compartmentalise and prevent emotional overspill from one area of your life to another. A bridging ritual might be a cool shower at the end of a work shift, literally washing away the emotion. It might be a cup of tea outside to change your physical environment, finding a quiet room or corridor and taking those five breaths, listening to a meditation or a particular piece of music on your commute.



Meditations of any length are useful but up to 20 mins can be beneficial. Don’t get too hung up on the method. You can’t get meditation right or wrong and there is no such thing as a good meditation. It is simply a moment, sitting with your eyes closed, using a mantra if you are familiar with that idea, or perhaps focusing on the sensations on your body until your mind quietens. It doesn’t even have to be in a quiet place. I was taught by the most wonderful Irish lady in her 70s called Patrice. When I had questions about my meditation practice, Patrice would look at me with a wry smile and say, “Now Jo, you haven’t been trying again have you?”


This is my final recommendation and like meditation there is no right and wrong way to journal. The method I’m going to describe is useful clearing unwanted stuff that is clogging your brain and adding to the chaos. If possible, make journaling the very first thing you do when you wake up, before your logic brain kicks in. Take a notebook and just write, fast, ideally 3 pages. This is not high prose, and it is not a diary account. It is whatever garbage, boring stuff and occasional pieces of gold your unconscious deigns to transfer through your pen onto the page. Give it a try for a few weeks. It may take some practice, but my coaching clients describe greater feelings of calm and perspective, as well as flashes of inspiration with this method.

There are countless ways to approach the problem of overwhelm but the most important thing is to do something. If not self-care now, when?

I’d love to hear other methods you find helpful, feel free to share in the chat. And if you need deeper support, please feel free open a conversation on Mehub, or book a call with me.

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