Does meditation help with feeling overwhelmed?

Now, more than ever, we need an outlet like meditation to balance our hectic lifestyle. Where we’re constantly juggling the demands of a busy home and work life, hoping the never-ending to-do list will miraculously disappear. It’s no wonder we feel stressed and overwhelmed!

Perhaps you are feeling the burden with managing your daily workload. And if you have kids, you’re juggling everybody’s needs, leaving little time for yourself. In fact, your needs are often at the bottom of the list (if they even make it onto the list at all!). I’m sure this all sounds really familiar to you!

When you develop a regular meditation practice, you become more aware. This awareness trains your mind to deal with stressful, overwhelming situations.

Your state our mind is calmer. You feel more present and grounded. Through meditation, you develop the ability to observe a situation from a different angle; We call this being the witness.

By observing your thoughts and emotions, you become more connected to that inner part of yourself. It’s almost like you have a moment to pause, which empowers you to decide how you will react and deal with the situation. You take control over your thoughts rather than letting your thoughts control you.

Meditation and feeling overwhelmed

There have been several scientific studies that validate how Meditation and Mindfulness support our health and wellbeing, particularly for the symptoms of  overwhelm, stress and anxiety.

As early as 1975, Dr Herbert Benson, who is the pioneer in scientific research into meditation, praised the benefits meditation has on the human body. including reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and brain activity – All of which are common issues in our modern society.

A more recent study, undertaken during the time of the pandemic, showed improvements in measures of anxiety, depression and pain scores with participants who practised meditation and mindfulness. The results from the study revealed structural and functional brain changes in the brains of long-term traditional meditation practitioners and  in people who have had completed the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program.

The study concluded that introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice to people experiencing stressful and overwhelming situations in their daily lives proved to be a valuable and low-cost method of offering support.

Meditation and Mindfulness support you when you are overwhelmed
Symptoms of overwhelm

When you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, even the smallest problems can feel like a mountain. It is a common reaction to panic, and I’ve often found myself overreacting to a situation when I feel overwhelmed.

It is also really hard to focus and concentrate when everything becomes too much. You may even feel that there isn’t a solution to your problem – purely because you cannot see things as they really are.

Your mind is so full, there just isn’t the capacity for anything else. I remember very clearly the sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach, the creeping anxiety through my body, and a feeling like “I’m drowning.”

Learn to recognise when you feel overwhelmed.

It’s very important to learn to recognise when you feel the symptoms of overwhelm or stress arising. Through the practice of meditation, you develop your awareness and the ability to witness. The ideal is to be more present in your day-to-day activities, fostering a valuable connection with yourself.

Through this connection, you become more attuned to your body, recognising when emotions and other symptoms start to arise. You are able to observe your mind, thoughts and reactions without getting caught up in them.

The vital skill we rarely learn is to sit with our emotions. It is part of the process of acceptance. By noticing the sensations as the arise, feel the emotion and then allow it to pass, you train your mind without trying to control, reduce, or escape the emotion.

Try this practice when you feel overwhelmed. It’s a way to observe everything that is happening physically, emotionally and mentally.

Close your eyes.

How is your breath? Is it shadow, fast, do you feel shortness of breath?

Are you grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw?

How is your heart rate? Do you feel tension or pain in your chest?

Are you feeling anxious?

Is there any tension or tightness in your neck, shoulders and upper back?

Is your mind feeling sad, depressed …what emotions do you feel?

Have you lost your appetite, or are you eating impulsively?

Do you experience an upset stomach like reflux, diarrhea, constipation?

How is your sleep pattern? Are you sleeping less or more than normal?

Do you experience fear, panic, paralyses, anger, are you irritable?

Finding time for yourself to manage overwhelm
Find a slice of the day that is just for you.

The first step to develop a meditation practice it’s to find a slice of the day that is just for you. In our busy lives, it may seem challenging to allocate time for ourselves, but the good news is that you don’t need a big chunk of your day to meditate!

Just 5 minutes a day will make a big difference. A scientific study revealed that a five-minute mindfulness meditation could effectively decrease stress.

Consistency is Key.

The most important aspect is regularity of practice. Begin with 5 minutes a day, and if you feel comfortable, gradually increase to 15-30 minutes daily. Remember, it’s better to practice for 5 minutes daily than 1 or 2 hours once or twice a week.

The best time to practice is early in the morning or before bed. Personally, I prefer practicing in the morning when my mind is clear and rested from the night. At night,  my mind is usually busier with the activities and events of the day, making it harder to concentrate.

Find a quiet place at home where no one will disturb you during your practice. It’s recommended to always use the same place. You may like to create a little nook or little temple that’s just for you and your practice.

Learn a meditation technique.

With so many different kinds of meditation techniques available, it can feel like climbing a mountain. Each technique is like a different face of the mountain, whichever one you choose, they all lead to the top.Some paths may be a bit more difficult, rockier, or steeper, suited to more advanced climbers. However, at the beginning of your meditation journey, the important thing is to choose a practice that is accessible and fits easily into your lifestyle.

If you would like to read more about this, click on the link to help you to find Which type of meditation is right for you?

If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also like to read…

Five ways to manage the feeling of overwhelm

How to meditate properly

Find the right meditation posture for you

Free Meditation practices:

We have included a couple of links to 2 different meditation practices that you may like to try.

Here’s a link to access to a 10-minute meditation practice that will help to quieten the mind and balance your emotions.

Why it’s important to be mindful, is a video that talks about the importance of being in the present moment. Further in the video is a mindfulness practice that you should try. You can access this by clicking here.