Overwhelm: When the Waves Keep Crashing

April was a month of waves. I was trying to outrun them, but I couldn’t.

Just as my head popped up to take a breathe another one slammed down right over my head.

Old programming: When it’s all crashing around you, do more. Keep plunging through. Can’t stop. Don’t stop.

So I broke into an old pattern: put EVERYTHING on a TO DO list and waste no minute.

I’m hella good at that hustle. But here’s the truth: the more I add to my plate, the louder my internal voice gets. Resentment for having to “do it all,” disappointment that I can’t do better, and frustration because I’m exhausted.

Mid-month, I just couldn’t keep up anymore. You know when you’ve been wound so tight that you can’t unwind?

That tight control meant waves of anxiety rocking my body. I couldn’t find a place of stillness. I could run 10 miles but that’s still wasn’t enough. I suddenly felt the need to be away from ALL THE PEOPLE and ALL THE THINGS!

So there I was – at at the ocean for 2 days and I couldn’t even sit on the beach and enjoy it because there were SO MANY THINGS ON THE TO DO LIST.

There wasn’t anything more “to do” that was going to fix this.

The only way was through, in, and with.

I sat staring at the ocean (ok, I was sulking) and started to wonder. “What if I just kept choosing to dive through? The ocean ALWAYS has the next wave for you, after all. So instead of trying to make it to the end faster, what if I just took one breath after another and rode the dang wave?

I looked at the ocean. “Fine,” I said.

I hate the cold. I’m not a huge fan of salt water. Also, WHO KNOWS WHAT IS LIVING IN THAT WATER?! But the next wave of anxiety was crashing over me again.

I was going to dive through this damn thing.

I walked into the water and as the next wave approached, I dove.

  • Ringing cold.
  • But I felt alive!
  • Deep breath of air.
  • Safe. Open….
  • Still anxious.

FINE THEN. Wave #2 approached, I dove.

  • Less Cold.
  • Still alive!
  • Deep breath of air.
  • Less anxious.

I let my body be carried by the next couple of waves before I dove through again.

Each dive was like taking charge. Each time I chose not to dive and just let my body be carried by the crests, I surrendered to the flow of life.

Then I walked back out. Through the current pulling me back in. Laughing. As I walked back towards my chair, I felt played out for the first time in weeks. I had loosed my iron grip and let go of my false sense of control.

For the rest of the afternoon, every time the anxiety returned, I would begrudgingly huff my way to the shoreline and walk in that water.

Wave of anxiety.

Deep Breath.



Gasp for breath.


I am here now. I let go. I flow with life.




Gasp for breath.


I am here now. I let go. I flow with life.


When I was done, I walked back out.


It’s the diving through AND the walking out that is important. Knowing that sometimes you must go through AND you must also schedule time for yourself (sleep, a walk, meditation, a good song).

When you’re drenched because you’re:

  • slammed at work
  • moving
  • in relationship transition
  • grieving a loss

Do you try to frantically make your way out of the ocean? Beat her at her game?

That wave is coming down. Breathe. Dive. Breathe. Dive. Then walk right on outta there.

Sometimes, there’s nothing to do but honor the wave. Fighting it makes it harder and leaves you gasping for breath.

Instead turn and dive through.

Honor the wave that is coming. You’ve got this.

Big love + Bold laughter,

This post originally appeared at www.jessicaleighlyons.com and was reposted here with permission.


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